San Fermin at 9:30 Club


images-uploads-gallery-san_fermin_band_photo_credit_denny_renshaw San Fermin performed a powerful set last Wednesday evening at the 9:30 Club. As brassy sounds and haunting vocals filled the historic DC venue, it was impossible to be just another passive spectator. The band performed old favorites from their self-titled debut album and tracks from its newest record, Jackrabbit. The eight-piece band is quietly led by Ellis Ludwig-Leone who serves as San Fermin’s primary writer, while John Brandon (trumpet), Stephen Chen (saxophone), Rebekah Durham (violin/vocals), Michael Hanf (drums), Charlene Kaye (lead vocals), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar), and Allen Tate (lead vocals) bring to life the intricacies of Ludwig-Leone’s compositions.

Admittedly, I am a latecomer to the San Fermin game but I can assure you I will never miss the opportunity to see this band live again. Ludwig-Leone, classically trained at Yale, has created a unique classical, pop sound that is unlike anything I have ever seen performed live. The stage teemed with talent and it was inspiring to simply be in the same room and breathing the same air as these 8 musicians.

There was no sense of band hierarchy that you'd maybe expect with 8 musicians on the stage. Each member of the band was enthralling in his or her own right. Charlene Kaye was charismatic and energetic in the spotlight as she led vocals, alternating with Allen Tate’s fittingly reserved, but commanding, presence and distinct, haunting baritone. The rest of the band, took turns in the spotlight at opportune moments to showcase their individual talents and by the end of the set it felt as though we were watching our close friends jam in a tiny bar.

The Breakdown:

Highlight: The massive singalong that ensued during “Sonsick,” a standout track from the band’s 2013 debut album.

Crowd: Energetic. Respectful. Many couples. NPR’s Bob Boilen!

Final Thought: Disappointed in myself for not seeing them before last Wednesday. Do not miss this band when they are in your city.

San Fermin recently wrapped up 2015 with three shows at New York’s Bowery Ballroom but luckily the band will head back out on the road Mid-January and again in April. To view a full list of tour dates click HERE.

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