“How’s your St. Patrick’s Day so far?” asked Kitchen Dwellers member, Torrin Daniels, at the start of the group’s set. With one glance at the crowd, it was clear that the answer for audience members was somewhere between “good” and “really good.” The cheering in response to this question was uproarious and loud, larger than expected based off of the size of the crowd itself.
Kitchen Dwellers, the bluegrass band, played at Cornerstone in Berkeley on St. Patrick’s Day to a more than welcoming crowd. The band formed in 2010 in Bozeman, Montana and quickly rose to prominence in the bluegrass genre. Huffington Post referred to them as a “bluegrass phenomenon” and at their small Cornerstone show to a crowd that reveled in every moment, it’s clear their fans would have agreed with this label.
The band opened their set with “Visions of Mohr,” extending the six-minute song to approximately 15 minutes. Each time it seemed like an instrumental interlude was bringing the song to a close, either a shift in pace led to the next interlude or Kitchen Dwellers returned to the chorus. With no drummer in the lineup, the sounds of the banjo and fiddle took center stage and kept the overall sound buoyantly flowing forward.
The four-piece lined up in a straight row at the front of the stage, setting themselves as close to the audience as possible without falling off their platform. The members performed with a consistent synchronicity between them, moving together to the varied beats of each and every song. With very little banter or narration in between songs, the members often jumped right into the next tune as soon as the previous one had ended, leading the night with a swift pace.
While the band was jamming out onstage, its members clearly very happy and energized to be playing together, it was difficult to avoid observing and interacting with the crowd. The audience, which included a range of folks in their 20s and older, seemed to also be in sync with each other. They never stopped moving — even in the short moments in between songs, pausing only to slow their movements.
Considering the venue had a fairly small crowd, there was plenty of space for dancing — and those in the audience took full advantage of this. There were couples square dancing in the back of the dark room, moving in perfect sync. Additionally, there were individuals at the front of the room closer to the stage jumping around wildly in Irish step-dancing moves. It was a lively and bustling room fit for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration and reflective of the energy radiating from the band on stage.
After playing for about an hour, Kitchen Dwellers made it around to one of their most popular songs, “Mountain.” The popularity of the song was immediately apparent from the crowd’s reaction, which turned into something even more uproarious than seemed previously possible. But the band was still far from finishing their set.
“Mountain” extended far past its normal length — Kitchen Dwellers played a version of “Mountain” that lasted for about thirty minutes. It was seemingly never-ending, a faster paced instrumental tune bleeding into a slower paced song, which led up to one final round of the chorus, all while the crowd screamed the lyrics of the full song directly at the band.
And when those thirty minutes were up, and the never-ending song finally reached its fruition, Kitchen Dwellers had one more hit that it was ready to play. The crowd sighed in collective relief — the energetic, enthusiastic night wasn’t over just yet.
Contact Nikki Munoz at [email protected].