This one time I went to a party in what the kids used to call Alphabet City. I didn't know whose house it was, just that there was a roof and the possibility of some booze. It turned out to be a super party, and it turned out the host was the bass player from Sam Champion. Sam Champion is one of those ubiquitous New York bands that seem part of something really cool going on in the city right now. With Big Sleep, My Best Fiend, Favourite Sons, and Levy all offering different takes on what it means to be a rock band, Sam Champion is holding up the Neil Young/the Band end of the spectrum. Back in the day it seemed the band was headed more in the Pavement-vein of indie rock, with singer Noah Chernin's yelpy drawl leading the band through clever pop songs. What floored me most about last night's show was the way Sam Champion seem to have grown into a full-fledged rock band.
Instead of indie-rock insecurities, Sam Champion chug Crazy Horse-style through alt. country stompers. Hell, they even brought out an old-timey slide guitar player for one track. Noah and guitar/keyboard player Sean Bones both rock harmonica on a couple of tunes, upping the country ante. Bassist Jack Dolgen kicks in the rock edge while Ryan Thorton keeps the whole thing moving on drums and some classic harmonies. I haven't been to a show that I smiled as much at as Sam Champion at Bowery last night since I saw Hog Operation in Kentucky last month for my Grandpa's 77th birthday. Seriously. Not only is it great to see a band really seem to come into itself, but god damn if they aren't a good time. Kids were jumping up and down in the front, singing along with all the words to songs off last year's Slow Rewind and people all the way to the back of the room were bobbing along. Sam Champion brought the party last night to Bowery. If you are NYC-based, like Built to Spill, Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Band of Horses, Phosphorescent or any band that knows how to write a song and use an acoustic guitar with as much muscle as an electric, go see this band.
Photo Credit: Wes