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  • An Intimate Performance in a Bar with No Name from Durand Jones

    Oct. 2nd, 2017

    A blank, black building with darkened windows, No Name on Fairfax is intentionally nondescript. It sits across from Canter’s Deli, a smartly dressed woman with a clipboard standing sentry outside the door the only indication that it is open for business.

    The venue strives to maintain an air of exclusivity - only recently have they begun taking dinner reservations from the general public. It is a spot haunted by musicians and celebrity clientele, drawn by the quiet atmosphere (no photography is allowed anywhere in the club) and excellent live music. It feels a bit Lynchian (if David Lynch were to cater to hipsters) with exquisite vintage furniture, beautifully quirky artwork, hunting trophies, and a chandelier that looks a bit like an underwater mine lighting the velvet bedraped stage. A perfect venue, then, for the soulfully vintage sound of Durand Jones and the Indications.

    The band takes the stage and an immediate hush of anticipation sweeps through the room. This silence doesn’t last long - Durand Jones is a performer who is able to funnel his energy into a crowd and make the air vibrate with his music. A septet ranging from brass to keys, the group grooves with the ease of seasoned performers. Each member is prodigiously talented - the playing is album-perfect but still feels completely effortless. At times, it is impossible to say who is the star of the show. They channel the spirit of classic soul music wonderfully - a homage that still manages to feel original.

    Seeing Durand Jones and the Indications perform is a bit like discovering Otis Redding for the first time - the intensity of the experience is that invigorating. “I never thought I would be a singer,” Jones says halfway through the set. At first, this seems implausible as he is such a natural talent, but the playfulness with which he conducts his band belies a joy that only a newfound passion can inspire. He banters with the melodies full of a vivaciousness equal to that which he uses on the crowd - it truly feels like a participatory experience, with the audience lending enthusiasm to the players on stage.

    On “Can’t Keep My Cool”, the band plays with the rests - building tension with silence, and then drowning the room in a burst of noise. Jones invites audience to participate in call-backs and sing-alongs, all of which feel exhilaratingly authentic. At one point, on “Is it Any Wonder”, Durand reveals the band’s “secret weapon” - switching to backup vocal duties to allow the multitalented drummer Aaron Frazer to play double duty on both vocals and drums. The youthfulness of the group, which was formed while playing college parties, is surprising given how strong the performance is.

    The energy never runs dry with each song melding perfectly into the next. Great performances like this are incredibly satisfying. The show feels intimate and huge all at once - and sans encore, leaves one craving for more, and humming the whole way home. Should Durand Jones and The Indications make it to your locale, it will be an unforgettable and unmissable experience.