Review: The Grecian Urns bring gang-vocal-love-jams to Green Bench Brewing (video)

A look back at the May 31 reunion.

It’s been more than three years since The Grecian Urns hung up their tambourines and gave up writing sunny songs together to pursue careers individually that were, for many of them, outside the musical realms, from nursing to filmmaking to teaching.

The dissolution was met with general disappointment. Full-length debut LOVEDREAM was indie folk pop perfection – infectious, charming and carefree, with perfect boy-girl vocal harmonies singing exuberant choruses and joyful exclamations, instrumentals lushly embellished with flute, trombone and violin, and an overall feeling of warm and pure nostalgia, the sort that exists before the real pining for the past sets in and you know the good times are coming to an end ... but that end still seems so far off.

The ensemble’s reunion show this past Sat., May 31 was a much-anticipated affair primed to be a jubilant comeback – free admission, brimming with one-time Urns family, friends and fans, and taking place a pretty cool venue, Green Bench Brewing Co. The night wasn’t overly warm, but the extensive mass of people spread out on the lawn and reaching all the way to the fence that enclosed it on either side made the air still, hot and muggier than it should’ve been, bodies jammed in thick up front and inside waiting for beers, and thinning out further from the stage while simultaneously spilling onto the sidewalk outside the brewery. 

The expectation was high and excitement heady in the crowd, especially a few feet from the stage, where the chatter was loudest and the faces still seemed so youthfully earnest. After finally acquiring a lost tambourine, the Urns kicked off the set and the LOVEDREAM began to the sounds of noisy cheers, shouts and much tapping of percussives.

Likely we’ve all weathered much since the last time this band played, but I'd like to think that each of us tapped into that special sense of bright wonder, happiness and light-hearted satisfaction the Urns bring when they hit those cheerful go-team choruses, like the “Ohhhhhhh, yeah!” of “Muhammad Ali,” or launch into the whistling, snapping and "Da da da da's" of “We Are Stories.” All the old favorite numbers got dusted off and delivered with rousing spirit, and even if sometimes the vocals weren’t perfect or the PA not loud enough, the feeling of fellowship remained intact, as did the quality of the music overall. There were plenty of audience sing-alongs (“gang-vocal-love-jams” as frontman Bryce McGuire refers to them) and the usual feel good vibes that pump through the air at a Grecian Urns show. And of course, they ended with the “Bring Your Own Percussion” jam for set closer “Breezy Bayou,” everyone with something to bang on or shake invited to the stage to join in and and make noise, Brandon McGuire surfing the crowd at the song’s close. (Video below.) When everyone who remained demanded an encore, the Urns returned and performed the sole song they had left, a cover, The Band’s “The Weight.” Scattered sparklers were lit and waved around in the crowd, casting a warm glow on the end of the evening and making this particular reunion feel truly special.

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