- Written and Photographed by Jacob Cutler -
The large ensemble of Calexico emerged onto the stage of a sold out Sinclair. There wasn’t a silent member of the crowd. Without much delay, Calexico jumped straight into “The Town & Miss Lorraine” off of their newest album, The Thread That Keeps Us. The beautiful piano melody mixed with Joey Burns’ smooth voice instantly captivated the crowd. In some of Calexico’s songs like “The Town & Miss Lorraine,” there is an absence of a horn section. However, in the live setting they do a superb job of integrating their horn section into some of their songs that are missing such horns. From this moment on the crowd was eating out of the palm of their hands and only grew rowdy during select moments.
Throughout Calexico’s set they go back and forth between songs off of their newest album and other hits from their extensive discography.
Over the course of Calexico’s career they have released songs of all different sounds. During their set they played songs that had heavy zydeco, hard rock, singer-songwriter crooners, and too many latin styles. As a result of lineup and instrumental changes, Calexico are able to seamlessly transition between songs from their vast catalogue without any issues. It never sounds like a different band is playing. It is not a distraction and keeps the audience on their toes.
At different points in the set their trumpet player, Jacob Valenzuela, and their lead guitarist, Paul Niehaus, would take over vocal duties from Joey Burns. It was an interesting change of pace to see Burns take a step back and dance around strumming his guitar while his band members would sing. The songs that both Valenzuela and Niehaus performed were very lively, upbeat, and hit home for them. They sung entirely in Spanish and it did not seem to bother the crowd. Looking around there were just as many people singing along to their songs as there were people singing along to the songs sung in english.
Burns explained how the accordion became a part of the Calexico sound.
He talked about why the band has a history of writing and recording waltzes. The accordion was played by both his grandfather and drummer John Convertino’s dad. He then advocated, jokingly, for more accordion bands, and hoped to see more the next time that Calexico came to Boston. After this banter they began playing one of their favorite songs to play live “Sunken Waltz”.
In little over an hour the band left their stage after their wild song “Crystal Frontier”. After a few minutes of the crowd endlessly chanting and cheering, Joey Burns returned to the stage with a couple of choice members. Scott Colberg came on with a standup bass. A new face also emerged - a violinist whom Burns introduces as Lauren. He announces to the crowd that it is her last night.
They then start playing “Fortune Teller” - a beautiful ballad heavily featuring Lauren’s violin. There was not a dry eye in the room. Afterwards, the rest of the band returned to the stage and played two more songs. Finishing the night off with Guero Canelo. It was impossible not to dance to this song. Throughout the instrumental breakdowns, Valenzuela lead a call and response with the crowd. There was not a single person in the crowd not responding. As well as this - each instrument had their own spotlight from guitar, to trumpet, and even the keyboard. This high energy mambo left the crowd exhausted and satisfied. There was not a single moment in which the crowd was not fully invested in Calexico’s set. Everyone had danced to their heart's content and thoroughly enjoyed Calexico.