Grand Romance Riverboat (Long Beach)
See Also: [Photos]: Jeramiah Red's EP Release Party on a Riverboat! 8/2/13
An uneven line of palm trees hung in a pink, glowing sky at the Long Beach Harbor on Friday night, where a who's who of the Orange County roots rock scene bustled in front of 'The Grand Romance Riverboat' at Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor in anticipation of Jeramiah Red's EP release party. The Winter Tick is the sophomore release from the Orange County rockers, and to celebrate their efforts they held a rock concert on a riverboat and invited a handful of their favorite OC bands to join in on the party. The off-kilter event was the brainchild of the group and their manager, Bill Bennett, and showed an inspiring commitment to the local Orange County Music scene -and still managed to be one hell of a party.
Boarding The Grand Romance felt like walking into a bit of time warp, with the three tiered, smoke churning, paddle-driven boat looming in the harbor. On the third level of the grandiose vessel Ranger (a.k.a Nicole Vaughn) kicked off the event, with her folky tunes and inviting vocals opening the night up for a progression of styles. Following her set, The Devious Means drew a crowd downstairs that was ready and willing to shake up the tempo. Though the boat had yet to leave the harbor, the pop rockers transported the crowd into a danceable frenzy.
Drawing in the crowd with a vigorous indie pop-rock sound, the energy piqued as the boat eventually pulled away from the dock making for one of the most memorable moments of the evening. Keyboardist/vocalist Rachel Anderson moved in and out of the songs like molasses, supplying keys, brass and hypnotic vocals. Drummer Jason Mize later came forward rocking a captain's hat and lead the crowd in a very apt, impromptu sing along of “Row Row Your Boat,” before the band got back to business and wrapped up a satisfying set.
The stacked lineup created a bi-level stage setup, and Moonsville Collective drew the crowd back upstairs where the old-time tunes were overflowing in a crowd of predominantly flannel shirts. The group offered songs about love and life that were laced with a variety of strings and a charming sense of humor. In between songs of the Americana inspired set, multi-instrumentalist Corey Adams joked with the crowd, “I'm gettin' all hot and bothered up here,” and after swigging his drink continued, “I think I popped my G string.” Upright bass, banjo, mandolin and washboard in tow, the performers may have been the band best suited for the southern-style, throwback venue.
Moving along with the flip-flopping stages, Robert John and The Wreck primed the crowd back downstairs for the headlining act. The energy accelerated the moment the southern-fried jam rockers started playing. Frontman Robert John settled into his vocals while the rest of his band fused into a musical force to be reckoned with. In a haze of red lights and flying mic stands, the group tore through a high-energy set that included “Rhythm of the Road” and “Georgia Mud.” They opened the door for a welcome bit of rock and roll hurt that charged the water bound crowd. After RJTW's set, blues rocker Parker Macy popped in for a three song surprise appearance, and following his warm reception handed over the stage to Jeremiah Red.
After a well-crafted under card, the boys of Jeramiah Red finally satiated their manic fans and took the stage. Relaxed and ready to kick off their set, the boys invited up Ranger and Victoria Foxtrot up for their opening song, and while the two songstresses make guest vocal appearances on The Winter Tick, having them in the flesh for the riverboat party added to the community feel.
By the second song, J Red officially hit their groove and the dense crowd fueled a connection that sizzled throughout the riverboat. Churning out “My Baby” furthered the electricity, where the crowd sang along with the addicting chorus. The new track “Cut and Shuffle” was a high point, where the ripper of a rock tune allowed singer Wes Dickson to ravenously unleash his vocals. Ranger and Foxtrot came back up for “Break My Fall,” and shortly after guitarist/vocalist Ian Cullen sang the group's inaugural ballad “Tangled Up” which was remarkably relatable. The new ballad shows growth on J Red's part, and the same can be said of The Winter Tick in its entirety. The boat docked and Jeramiah Red rallied for their last song of the night, crowd favorite “Can't Help Myself.” The vibe of Jeramiah Red's set was fun and engaging, and the only downside of the night was that their set rushed to a premature ending.
There's something moving about an intimate show that sails into the night, encouraging fans to move from level to level and interact with all the artists on the bill. Going in and out of the fresh ocean air while jamming along with some of OC's finest made the evening more than a good time, it made it a night to remember.
Overheard in the crowd: “Dude, I thought I was wasted but it was just the boat turning!”
Random Notebook dump: Congratulations to Jeramiah Red percussionist/harmonica player Travis Ruiz who proposed to his girlfriend during their set. You win for coolest proposal.