It was a night of firsts for musicians Max Vernon and Dan Fishback, who are about a decade apart, sharing the bill for their Joe's Pub debut. They have different music styles, but both are clever songsters and have the Charm factor sewn up.
Max Vernon rolled out a more poppy set than usual, playing solo on the piano, guitar, or keys and featuring the band in groupings or as a whole. It was an assemblage of diverse parts, whether acoustic, synth, cool backup vocals or the bow cello percussion it was smart-ass planning. In prime form were Vernon's magnificent vocal talent, smart as-hell songwriting, and piano chops that ease across the keys. He was so relaxed that he shared stories behind the songs. They were poignant, topical, or downright sassy. When he played his only slow song, "Pastels," fans in the rafters were cooing, and he replied, "I guess I got a hit." "Sirens" sounded great with the full band, and he strutted his tall frame at the keys with another new one, "The Morning After," with a little cool splice of Lady Gaga's "Just Dance." Max Vernon is spectacular to look at. His long, lean six-foot-three-inch frame is always styled to delight. Eye Candy, yes, but what really shines is his sincere and charmingly awkward way. Case in point as he entered and left the stage with a goofy wave. He could have soaked up the adoring attention and milked it with a long-deserved bow. Talent like his does not come around too often, and at twenty-one, his ability and determination will bring him a successful, long-lasting career. I'm just happy to be able to witness and document it from the beginning.
Dan Fishback's very high voice is pitch-perfect, clear, and pristine. He is proudly gay, reflected in his songwriting, and usually performs alone with his acoustic guitar. But for this performance, he pulled out all the stops with a very tight accomplished band featuring guitar, piano, and drums. In stark contrast to the serious side of the instrumentation were his comedic and witty lyrics. One example was the song "Make Out"/ I'm going to make out with everybody who philosophically disgusts me /.
Not familiar with his music, the first thing that came to mind was John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, reflecting a certain rhythm and ongoing dialogue tied together with a great melody. A delight was the guest appearance by Sammy Tunis of the band The Lisps joining Dan for an acoustic duet. He ended the set with a proud anti-folk chorus contingent who joined him on the stage for the finale. His cutest remark of the night was when he said, "he didn't have time to write any new material because he was happily in love." His charming, sweet demeanor and cool geeky exterior were beyond endearing and a delight.
Photo tragedy: Dropped my camera, and the memory card fell out! So hopefully, the other photographers there will publish the real event. Max Vernon shot is a Faux Photo. Damn, I had some great shots now enclosed forever in a vacuum bag.