97.3 KBCO & Z2 Entertainment are will present Punch Brothers with The Milk Carton Kids to the Boulder Theater on Sunday, December 9th, 2012. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Friday, July 20th, 2012 at 10:00 am for $26.50 in advance & $29.50 the day of the show.
The title of the third Punch Brothers disc for Nonesuch, borrowed from one of their new songs, is more an exhortation than a taunt. Who’s Feeling Young Now?, produced and engineered by Jacquire King, contains some of the most exhilaratingly direct, sonically daring performances the group has ever recorded. As the five members, ranging in age from their mid-20s to early 30s, have matured together on the road and in the studio, their approach to writing and performing has, conversely, become looser, simpler, and, in a sense, more unaffectedly youthful. In fact, the title song—featuring rumbling bass, skittering violin, and wailing multi-tracked vocals—sounds like hard-charging string-band punk rock. Opening track “Movement and Location” feels like Steve Reich–inspired indie rock, with rhythmically pulsing guitar, bass, and banjo lines and the same flying-by-the-seat-of-the-pants spirit. It came together over a matter of minutes in mandolinist/singer Chris Thile’s living room. At this point, virtuosity is a given among these already prodigious players; the operative word for Who’s Feeling Young Now? is camaraderie.
“I think we’re a lot more comfortable now playing to our strengths and our bluegrass roots,” says guitarist Chris Eldridge. “We kind of came around to a place where that was something we were just as willing to present to the world—it’s obviously part of who we are, always has been—but I feel we’ve been a little reticent, as if playing a simple bluegrass song wasn’t enough. We’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in our skin.”
In 2006, former Nickel Creek member Thile instigated the collaboration that evolved into Punch Brothers when he recruited Eldridge, banjo player Noam Pikelny, and violinist Gabe Witcher to back him on a solo album, How to Grow a Woman; bassist Paul Kowert joined the band three years later. They officially became Punch Brothers, releasing a debut album, Punch, on Nonesuch in 2008. Since then, says Thile, “Punch Brothers has gradually evolved from a band that existed to present the ideas of one guy into a band presenting the unified idea of five guys. I had a very clear vision for The Blind Leaving the Blind and I’m very proud how that turned out, but the reason to put yourself in this kind of situation is to have the opportunity to present a real sense of community to other people. When there are five dudes up there doing something as a unit that encourages people to participate, that’s where Punch Brothers is exhibiting a lot of growth. We can actually bring a sense of real musical camaraderie, creative camaraderie, to people who come to our shows and those who listen to the records.”
Kowert, who joined the group just before the 2010 sophomore disc, Antifogmatic, concurs: “We hit our stride a little more on Who’s Feeling Young Now?, finding our places and our parts a little faster. We were basically playing better as an ensemble. Part of that has to do with the writing we did beforehand, part of that is just performing together longer, being on the road for a longer time.”
The quintet was able literally to see how far they’d come when they gathered in mid-2010 to review material, write new tunes, and rehearse for the upcoming sessions, returning to the same apartment building in Manhattan’s East Village where they’d first convened to tackle The Blind Leaving the Blind. As Pikelny explains, “Thile had moved to Brooklyn for two or three years but he was jones-ing for Manhattan again. He’s a creature of habit, so what does he do? He moves back into the exact same building and is in the unit right above the old one, where we have all these memories of just killing ourselves trying to learn The Blind Leaving the Blind, sleeping on the floor, being woken up by trucks at five in the morning. When we went back there, it was like being in a dream state for the first few hours; it didn’t seem possible, to be back in the building where we first looked at each other and said we wanted to do this. Five years later, we’re in practically that same room, working on our new record. With all that’s happened to the band, it felt quite triumphant. It’s a vindication in some ways that we’ve made this work. And now, instead of sleeping on floors, everyone lives in New York and could go back to their own apartments.”