Review: Jose Gonzalez, Junip bring electric chills to Crowbar in Ybor City
The success of Jose Gonzalez’s solo career has relegated his band, Junip, to second-place status for years. That changed last year when the Swedish trio finally released its debut full-length album, Fields.
Tuesday’s performance at Ybor City’s Crowbar showed that while singer-guitarist Gonzalez may be Junip’s primary draw, bandmates Elias Araya on drums and keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn are equal partners.
Augmented by percussionist Joel Wästberg and bassist Johan Grettve, Junip proved tougher and more groove-oriented than its recordings would suggest.
Araya’s drumming was spare but commanding, propelling even the gauziest numbers. Winterkorn’s keyboards ranged from throbbing pulses of noise to vintage fusion-era electric piano.
Gonzalez’s understated vocals and nylon-string guitar were instantly identifiable from his solo recordings, but Junip placed them in an exciting and electric context.
The mechanical, piston beat of At the Doors recalled Neu!, but with a sumptuous chill all Junip’s own. Gonzalez’s icy calm gave Rope and Summit a subtle menace.
Gonzalez downplayed the frontman role, limiting his patter to thanking the audience every few songs and making a bit of small talk, once declaring Tampa “sticky but nice.”
The band’s dream-pop could be hypnotic but plenty among the Crowbar’s packed house were dancing throughout the show.
Helado Negro preceded Junip with a set of Spanish-language songs about his life in South Florida. Negro backed his song-stories with beat-heavy backing that was most successful when enough melody came through to complement his rich vocals.
Tampa’s King of Spain – Matt Slate and Daniel Wainwright – opened the show. The pair’s darkly melodic pop was an ideal complement to Junip’s similarly minded but sonically divergent approach.
-- Curtis Ross, tbt*