The University's prodigal sons returned to the Downtown Mall Friday night to celebrate Valentine’s Day near the Grounds where they got their start. The theme for the night was “Loveboat Supreme” — a funky and energetic take on John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” masterpiece. The night began with Erin Lunsford — a powerhouse vocalist who easily filled up the Jefferson’s high historical ceiling after taking a break from her band, Erin & the Wildfire, to support her solo side career. Standing on stage alone with only a microphone and an acoustic guitar, Lunsford roused the gradually increasing crowd with her soulful belting of original songs. She debuted selections from her upcoming album, including a song entitled “Virginia Brother.” Lunsford and her band are Charlottesville natives, the fact of which enhanced the bond between crowd and singer. Louis Smith and Ryan Wood from Kendall Street Company came out armed with a percussion egg and wooden sticks to accompany Lunsford on a song.
Disco Risque followed Lunsford. Following in the theme of the night, Disco Risque also hails from Charlottesville, but the juxtaposition between Lunsford’s simple act and their overbearing, energetic and raucous performance exemplifies the diversity of Charlottesville’s music scene. All clad in classy suits and ties, the foursome spent their set driving the energy of the crowd to an all-time high. A fusion of hard rock, funk and reggae created a fun atmosphere. John Bruner on the bass specifically excelled in his performance, unrelenting and immensely impressive throughout the show.
Despite not having lyrics for the first ten minutes of their show, Disco Risque morphed the crowd into a mosh pit of hoots, hollers and constant motion. After playing a few original songs, Disco Risque covered “Stronger” by Daft Punk while lead vocalist Ryan “Swimsuit” Calonder and lead guitarist Charlie Murchie took a quick break offstage. Smith and Jake Vanaman from Kendall Street also accompanied the band onstage — as well as Ben “Peaches” Laderberg — to finish out their set. Calonder’s skills on the trumpet give Disco Risque another factor to remember them by, besides the energy of their show and on-stage antics.
Kendall Street Company finally came on in their totality to an ecstatic crowd — a perfect Valentine’s date night for musically-minded Charlottesvillians or just a great show to see with a group of friends. Pulling out their small, bohemian carpets to the stage, the band stood barefoot in front of the crowd — a familiar facet of their act whether you are seeing them at the Jefferson, Coupe Deville’s or at a festival. Many locals know of Kendall Street Company’s success, but to play a show in front of a packed house of peers while achieving their dreams must feel pretty good.
The band is eclectic, with Brian Roy wearing a long iridescent robe and — at the other end of the spectrum — Vanaman wearing a preppy pink button up with a white bowtie. Despite this contrast, it all comes together in a very cool, collegiate acceptance of personal style. Kendall Street began their set with a faster rendition of “Love Supreme” perfectly timed with a balloon drop from the middle balcony. Smith’s voice and Vanaman’s saxophone stand out and help create the band’s distinct sound — groovy jam band with elements of jazz and rock.
The band played their well-known and loved “Space for Days” to a devoted audience, then followed with a cover of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” for all the love-struck couples in the crowd. Kendall Street Company played for an hour straight with barely any break in music, frequently launching into jazzy jams and switching the lead between the five of them — until a curt nod or some other indistinguishable gesture alerted the band to move on. They brought Calonder, the lead singer and trumpist from Disco Risque, out for a few songs in between another cover of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and an entirely Spanish song.
Another guest star during the set was flutist Roger Fox who joined Kendall Street Company for “Cherry Tree.” The “Loveboat Supreme” show displayed exactly why Kendall Street Company deserves all the success they have garnered over the years — including a spot in Lockn’s 2020 lineup, where just three years ago they won the “Rockn to Lockn” competition to play at the festival. Just like their never-ending jams, Kendall Street Company is not slowing down anytime soon.
Correction: This article previously misstated that Disco Risque's trumpet player's last name is Colander, Ryan Vanaman joined the band on stage, Wood wore "a long, iridescent robe," Robert Fox joined Kendall Street Company on flute and the name of the song played is "You're the One I Love." It has been updated to reflect that Disco Risque's trumpet player's last name is Calonder, Jake Vanaman joined the band on stage, Brian Roy wore the robe, Roger Fox joined Kendall Street Company on flute and the song played was "Cherry Tree."