Chuck Ragan wound down the 2014 touring cycle in support of (my favorite album of the year) Till Midnight (SideOneDummy Records) by getting his band, The Camaraderie, together for a jaunt through most of the northeastern United States. Dubbed the “Winter Haul,” the tour rolled through Cambridge, Massachusetts on a chilly Thursday night in December for a stay at The Sinclair, this writer’s choice for best venue in the greater Boston area. The Sinclair is one of those places that almost feels too fancy or classy for a punk rock show, though it doesn’t seem afraid to book high energy, high intensity shows (I’ve done previous show reviews from Face To Face/Teenage Bottlerocket/Blacklist Royals and Frank Turner/Rebuilder from that venue).
In many ways, it’s a perfect venue for the likes of Ragan, particularly in his solo work. The venue’s sound was crystal clear from jump street, which is important for the dynamic stylings of the Camaraderie. Having seen the same band at other venues, there can be a tendency for, say, Todd Beene’s pedal steel to get lost in the mix, or for Jon Gaunt’s fiddle to come in too bright, or for Chuck Ragan’s trademark field holler to overpower every damn thing in the place. The staff at Sinclair (not to turn this into an advertisement) seem to really know what they’re doing, allowing the band to sound at their absolute best.
And that they did. The lengthy set included Till Midnight in its entirety (though not in order), and a majority of 2012’s Covering Ground, as well as rowdy, rollicking crowd-pleasers like “California Burritos” and “The Boat.” Ragan also dedicated his “cover” of Hot Water Music’s “Drag My Body” to this “day job” band, presently in the midst of celebrating its twentieth year together. Also included was a cover of the great Cory Branan’s “Survivor Blues,” a rather intimidating song to try to pull off live given Branan’s unique vocal phrasing and inimitable guitar style. That said, there’s enough of an overlap between Ragan’s and Branan’s fanbases to turn the song into a fairly rollicking singalong in its own right, and Ragan seemed much appreciative of the crowd’s support and interaction.
Support on this night (and every night on this leg of the tour) came from Little Rock, Arkansas’ Adam Fawcett. Many in the crowd (myself included) were not overly familiar with Fawcett’s work, and as he sauntered on stage, he didn’t cut the stereotypical figure of an engaging frontman. Such a set of circumstances can sometimes lead to a less than enthused reaction from the crowd, but Fawcett quickly silenced any skeptics with his voice that, well, to be blunt, sounds like a goddamn angel. He’s definitely one to get into, and quick.
Check out our photo set from the night below.
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