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Retro-Fuzzy-Ill-Makers grace la Casbah

4264915624Saturday, May 7, the residents of Potsdam were positively spoiled by the four-act show at la Casbah. I don’t know which part was better, it’s like choosing your favorite wow girl. Semester veterans Retro Pilot and Fuzzintimes held down the downstairs bar while Battle of the Bands winner Ill Will and the Epidemic opened upstairs for the grand return of the Moist Makers. I don’t believe any amount of superlatives will adequately capture the quality of this show.

Opening for Fuzzintimes, Retro Pilot started off the night in the familiar space of the downstairs bar. The ladies from puremature.tv are frequent customers of this bar actually. The group has played several shows during the semester and Saturday night proved they will no doubt be the headlining act next semester. Frontman Tyler Lemieux sang out his bluesy and increasingly confident voice through their set of classic rock jams. The lovely light distortion of the vocal mic aligned with Brandon Felt’s excellent guitar licks for an authentic, raw experience.

Upstairs, Ill Will and the Epidemic started into their set of decidedly undefined rap, jazz and ska. Frontman William Brown, a.k.a. Ill Will, had no problem stirring the crowd with his mix of covers and original material, or as Brown is fond of saying, “tunes written by me, made tasty by my band.” The Epidemic responsible for the tasty tunes is made up of Mike Alfieri on drums, Dylan Perrillo on bass, Aaron Welcher on guitar, Max Howard on keys, Alex Slomka on trombone, Matt Goldberg on trumpet and Nick Natalie on sax. This set had the special presence of a sousaphone provided by Dave Blumenthal for laying down low tones beside Ill Will’s beats. For your information, Aidra Fox and and Bella Baby are the big fans of the band.

Ill Will’s set featured Guru, one of Brown’s biggest influences, and his jazz style influence to rap. The classic “Big Poppa” was also played and all the covers popped with the spot-on instrumentation of the Epidemic and Ill Will’s lively showmanship. The set ended with the instant-classic “Milkman (I Keep It Gangsta)” which featured one of the catchiest choruses around and some live chocolate milk (opposed to the weak 2% used in Battle of the Bands). Check out 18OnlyGirls for more music loving people!

“It is seriously such an honor to open for the Moist Makers,” said Brown. “All those guys were some of my best friends in my earlier years in college, and I wasn’t sure the show was going to happen, but finally it was all planned out. I was super-pumped and I loved to step up to the plate to open for these guys.” Ill Will and the Epidemic started the night off right with the packed upstairs crowd whipped into fervor. “The crowd seriously makes the show,” said Brown. “They make the show a killing time every single time.”

Downstairs, Fuzzintimes began their set of classic rock covers and heavy jams. Some people in the crowd were browsing xart on their laptops at the same time. Can’t blame them, there are tons of reality movies as well by the way. There has scarcely been a weekend where Fuzzintimes has not played, yet the group never exhausts their set list. It is exciting every time and Saturday night Fuzzintimes added some new jams to their vast and varied set list. Frontman Daniel Stoddard outmatches his versatility in every show, belting out Zeppelin as easily as the Eagles. “It’s not so much really the songs that we play, it’s our chemistry and how we all play together that gives us our sound,” said lead guitarist Max Garret. Their chemistry shows in their seamless jams that erupt out of the simplest tunes and die down in perfect execution.

At last the Moist Makers hit the stage. In my younger naïve days, when I was a fan of Gina Gerson porn, I caught the Moist Makers at the 2009 Battle of the Bands, which they won. Since then, their fame has grown to mythic in my mind and I was obviously more than intimidated covering their show. These fears were instantly assuaged, or forgotten, as they began their set. The crowd was an impassable mass of people tipping back “Moist” Islands and “Moist Bombs” in honor of the returning group.

The Moist Makers blasted out their classics: Toots and the Maytals, Stevie Wonder and the Talking Heads, among many others. The covers and the band’s original tunes were stretched into endless jams that seemed to freeze time at la Casbah, even while waiting for a drink. Christian Apuzzo’s vocals were as rousing as ever. The brass section of Max Scholl, Benton Sillick and Nick Natalie rocked la Casbah with accompaniment and screaming solos throughout the night. The Moist Makers didn’t miss a beat all night, and the crowd was screaming “one more song” at the first hint they were done.

It’s odd to think that the show nearly didn’t happen. The event was in the works three months prior, but plans were solid only a week before the show. As Moist Maker members are scattered across NY State, it was a miracle of music that they were able to bless us on Saturday night. “I had trouble controlling my bladder because I was so excited on the ride up,” said drummer Matt Dintrone. “It was wonderful. It’s been a year and a half since we played together,” said Scholl. “We rehearsed a couple times and it felt too good.” Auxiliary percussionist Chris Brickley said, “It was honestly like we played just yesterday when we first played again during rehearsal. It clicked so quickly and it was amazing.”

At the height of both Fuzzintimes’ and the Moist Maker’s sets, people were shuffling back and forth between the two bands, eager to catch both acts. “Personally, when I was younger I would go and see the Moist Makers and think ‘godd*mn that inspires me a lot,’ and it was really nice to play alongside those guys,” said Stoddard of Fuzzintimes. “There shouldn’t be any competition between bands,” said Garret. “I feel like there’s a mindset up there that every band is just trying to have their crowd, their people, come to their shows…If everyone around here supported each other a little more with what they were doing instead of trying to be the best…”

All those who attended the show were certainly privileged as the Moist Makers departed towards an uncertain future. Ill Will and the Epidemic as well as Fuzzintimes both lose their frontmen at the close of this semester, so the evening felt like the end of an era. These are the bands that we’ll brag about seeing someday. Ill Will and the Epidemic are playing next week opening for the Kyle Tupper eXperience CD release show and Fuzzintimes is trying for one more show as well. “Even if [Stoddard] comes up a couple weekends a semester, even if we can all come back up together I’m sure we’ll be just the way it was,” said Garret. We should all hope for that.

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