Concert Review: Junip

photo credit: Victor Lundmark

photo credit: Victor Lundmark

By: Drew Parrish
The Loft
19 October, 2013

A word, better yet a concept, that I encounter frequently in my general consumption of music is intimacy, especially when referring to a live music experience. One can rationally condense the definition of “intimacy” with the word “closeness.” On Saturday night at The Loft I was close enough to José González, the front man of Junip, that I could see the fuzzy aura created around his head by the colored lights shining through the fringe of his curly hair. Often at concerts there is a gap between artist and audience, it generally looks like a waist high retention rail, an elevated stage, and a few disinterested men in yellow jackets. But that gap deteriorates the intimacy of a concert, a certain closeness cannot be achieved with the presence of physical barriers. That gap is nonexistent at The Loft. It is a place conducive to intimacy, which means it is a place where the music of Junip flourishes.

Intimacy is a great way of characterizing the music Junip makes. I think it starts with the alluring vocals of José González. He sings with a very distinct yet irresistibly pure tone with a tinge of accent that invites you to pay attention and actually listen to what he says. The strongest crossover of González’s folk tilted solo work is heard in his lyrics and vocal melodies, a crossover that imbibes the music of Junip with the intimacy that makes folk music special. Listening to the lyrics in songs such as “After All Is Said And Done” captivated me in an environment of just music and self. Closeness wasn’t even a question. But what really struck me as the most intimate aspect of Junip was what was happening around González and his acoustic guitar.

The five other members of the band combined to make a fascinating soundscape that enveloped the room. Junip employs a fairly heavy use of technology in their music to complement the acoustic instrumentation from González and the precise structure offered by the drummer. At times all four of the other guys all were inputting a sound on a keyboard but constantly making a subtle changes to that sound by turning knobs and manipulating individual components of that sound, such as the reverb levels, or enhancing a certain filter.  They were able to create a psychedelic sound texture that was slowly and constantly evolving. During their rendition of the song “Line of Fire” (popularized by its Breaking Bad appearance) the powerful build up was done by the guys who were focused on the capability of their mixers, and the micromanagement of sound. This had the effect of introducing us to the building blocks of Junip’s music. We weren’t only hearing the finished product of their work, it was more like hearing their work being constructed before us. When you think about it, that is a true achievement of intimacy. To become truly intimate with another person, is to understand and witness the subtle details of that person; it is to know the individual blocks that are combined to create the whole product. That is the relationship Junip offered us with their music, and it was a truly rewarding development in my relationship with their music.