Photo by Dino Perrucci
By this point, people know what to expect at a Trombone Shorty show. Along with his backing band Orleans Avenue, Troy Andrews has spent the better part of the last decade building up a reputation as an artist who can reliably turn in a thrilling performance, night after night, from New Orleans to New York City to Tokyo. Celebrating the release of his new record Parking Lot Symphony, his debut on the historic Blue Note label, Shorty brought the party to Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom with the kind of show that turns doubters into believers and believers into disciples.
Andrews stepped on stage like the kind of rock star the music world is severely lacking these days; full of a self-confidence that bubbled with just enough cockiness, and intent on providing a great time not just for the audience, but for himself and his bandmates as well. His arms were held high, a trumpet in one hand and a trombone in the other, as the Orleans Avenue boys laid down a groove that only hinted at what the night would bring. All it took was Shorty putting a horn to his lips to elicit a wild cheer from the crowd, and with the first brassy blast the mood shifted from one of charged anticipation to electrified intensity.
For much of the night, the setlist proved more like a guideline as Shorty and co. bounced around through moments of New Orleans-flavored revelry, R&B and hip-hop, somber jazz, and blistering hard rock—including a monstrous instrumental cover of Green Day’s “Brain Stew” with a tease of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade,”—at times rolling all of those into one funky stew. The songs that left the most lasting impression, more often than not, were those off the new album, including the joyful march of “Here Come the Girls,” a song written by the late Allen Toussaint, and the slow jam-turned-anthem “No Good Time.”
Ultimately, though, above the virtuosity and chemistry of the band, above Shorty’s ownership of the stage, it was the way the room fed on its own increasing intensity that made the evening what it was. The Bowery Ballroom is an intimate spot for Trombone Shorty, as evidenced by his announcement of two shows at the more-than-five-times-bigger Terminal 5 in October, and it was filled to the brim with a mass of bodies ready to move. Every person there was there to get down; dancing, headbanging, and egging on the musical wave until it was a full blown tsunami, crashing over everyone with a reminder of just how good music can feel.