The Majestic Theatre celebrated its 5th Grand Re-Opening anniversary this weekend with an exciting slate of music Friday and Saturday night. On Saturday night, the theater welcomed the Dirty Projectors for their true anniversary, but Friday featured a trio of bluegrass bands with Kalamazoo’s Greensky Bluegrass as the headliner.
Concertgoers venturing into the Majestic were treated to a night of feverish banjo picking and guitar strumming. Setting the tone for the evening was Evergreen Grass Band from Eau Claire followed by The Deadly Gentlemen, who came all the way from Boston to play an impressive opening set. The musicians were welcomed with approving foot-stomps and areas of dancing as the crowd filed in. Once the floor was full and the balcony modestly occupied, Greensky Bluegrass took the stage and began their set to the cheers of a warmly receptive audience.
Early on in the set, the band’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” pleased the crowd, who wholeheartedly sang along to the tune. It was a common theme for the night, indicating a number of fans entirely familiar with the group’s catalog.
The set list was marked by a frenzied pace often associated with bluegrass, while also showing the capacity to perform a few numbers that were more intimate and melodic, and ran with a slower tempo.
Unfortunately, these slower-paced segments were at times lost on the crowd, whose boisterousness carried over from the high-energy songs. The excitement elicited during the faster numbers, however, stayed consistent throughout the night, leaving the band and audience undaunted by brief technical disturbances.
By the end of the set, the audience was clearly enthused by the performance, calling for the encore by stomping their feet in unison, as they had done at many points already.
The aesthetics of the Majestic offered a fitting venue and provided great acoustics for the show, and Greensky fit the bill well. Even though the band showed moderate energy at best during the show, their sheer talent wholly made up for any lackluster showmanship.
The group’s ability to improvise became evident throughout the set as band members swapped leads, each drawing applause from the audience. Mandolinist Hoffman and guitarist Bruzza were particularly lauded by the crowd for their stringed virtuosity. But beyond the band members’ apparent individual musical capability, the group played as a unit with seamless transitions and tight vocal harmonies.
Greensky played a show to please the real bluegrass fans, who made up most of the audience. The show also offered a remarkable display of musicianship that could easily entertain more casual listeners or fans of musical talent in general.
There may not have been much to engage patrons who didn’t share those preferences, however. But for those whose tastes it suited, the performance left little to be desired — the crowd displayed satisfaction through enthusiastic cheers, stomping and vigorous dancing. For bluegrass fans and those who appreciate musical prowess alike, this show was certainly worth the price of admission.