Photos By Ryan Kelly, Words By Jeb Gavin
Smoke machines? Check. Strobes? Absolutely. Guitar hero antics? On point. I think I’ve become BYT’s expert on J. Roddy Walston and the Business and it feels good. Their Friday night return to the 9:30 Club wasn’t a return to form so much as a continuation thereof.
This time the Business brought with them Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas from out of Detroit. While certain elements of their performance were distinctly Motor City, their set felt more like a road trip through major cities of the Midwest, starting in Detroit and winding down through lounges in Chicago, and dance halls in Saint Louis and Memphis.
Fuzzy guitars and a lagging bass layered over pounding drums and double floor toms gave off this beefed up, rockabilly vibe. The fact that Hernandez channels the still living Wanda Jackson doesn’t hurt. The stab of the trombone or grinding dirge of an electric keyboard added an element of rock steady to more than a few of the songs. They were a fun opener for the Business, but I could do without the occasional turn towards psychobilly vamping.
As for the main event, I’m not sure there’s much I can add over the last time I tried explaining what you missed when Mr. Walston comes to town. As the band is “from” Richmond and/or Baltimore depending on when you signed on, D.C. is a homecoming show of sorts. They treat it as such.
The only appreciable difference between this weekend’s show and the one 15 months ago was the mix. In the past the piano has been at the forefront, both physically and sonically, a focal point for both the records and the live shows. Where other bands might rest or somehow retreat- playing more straight up and down guitar rock, the Business sounds more mature by equalizing their sound Allowing guitarist Billy Gordon free reign on both the stage and the fretboard they suddenly sound more like a cohesive unit than ever before.
Near the end of the encore that evening Walston announced to the audience, the point of the evening was to have a good time, to enjoy each others company. It reminded me of the dozens of times I’ve seen Craig Finn tell his Unified Scene that we are all -the band, the audience, himself- The Hold Steady. Perhaps moving forward, any time people are partying on a Saturday night, enjoying great rock and roll and the company of like minded individuals, we are all now The Business.