LIVE: Candy Ambulance and Chestnut Grove @ Park Theater, Glens Falls, 02/10/2022

GLENS FALLS – As the lights dimmed within Glens Falls’ Park Theater on Thursday, February 10th, a certain sort of mysticism began filling the air. Those in attendance were about to bear witness to a tasteful blend of original music with an energy level reminiscent of simpler times. Taking the stage that night was Chestnut Grove – a band from Pennsylvania that claimed Glens Falls as their “second home” – and longtime local punk-rock favorites, Candy Ambulance.

Wasting no time in establishing why they were so comfortable calling this area their home-away-from-home, Chestnut Grove blistered right into their set. Playing new material and old, alike, they quickly turned this particular listener – who had yet to catch a show of theirs – into a fan. As members of the band swapped out on various instruments; going from guitars, to keyboards, to drums, for example, the energy and vibe remained consistent throughout. Whether it was a skillful musical motif on an electric guitar, or a tender a cappella moment, this band knew what the hell they were doing and charged unabashedly forward into the fray.

Photo credit: Amy Klemme

Aside from that, what I particularly enjoyed about their set was the interconnectedness they wove within various musical genres. I wouldn’t call them a rock band; I wouldn’t call them a funk band; I wouldn’t call them a new-wave band. What I would call them, however, is damn good, and then some. Blending such genres together into a musical smorgasbord with such ease requires a level of songwriting and arranging talent that these fine folks had in spades. A pleasure to see, I would highly recommend those that have an opportunity to see them do just that.

As Chestnut Grove finished their set to much applause and I began waiting for Candy Ambulance to hit the stage, I found my mind wandering. Shows have indeed seemingly returned to this area – for which I’m thankful – but as a performer myself, I’ve noticed that some things still seem wildly out of place. Almost as if the picture is there but the lens is clouded. Allowing the mind to turn further inward, my mental state was saved as I heard the thundering intro to Candy Ambulance’s “People are Deceitful.” A riff I’ve grown to know very well (having the pleasure of sharing some shows with these folks in years past), I was instantly transported to an era before COVID.

Making their way through their set, I caught songs that make up this band’s discography from its beginning to its current repertoire. It was great to catch the present energy of their playing they put into every song. By doing so, the band thereby re-imagined the material, even if only within the manner of context. Perhaps it was my own weariness as an artist that clouded my view, but I felt as if there was a certain aged-weariness that hung over the band that night as well. That being said, however, it didn’t detract from the performance in the least. In this listener’s opinion, it actually amplified it. It brought a sense of musical camaraderie to me; a certain “we’re in this together” type mentality that I remember from years past of the local DIY scene.

Featuring gritty guitar leads and solid bass underpinnings to all their songs, Candy Ambulance delivered a fantastic set of music. Thundering throughout, the drums added the final crucial piece to their performance. Breaking away from their strictly punk beginnings, I was able to really enjoy their latest material from their record Hard Boiled. In a sense, while it brought me back to times where “positivity rates” were not yet part of our zeitgeist, and with that a sense of remorseful nostalgia – sometimes we don’t know what we have ‘til it’s gone – the show and performances from both bands also brought a much-needed sense of comfort.

Leaving to go home after the show ended, my ears ringing loudly, I came to the all too familiar realization I just attended one hell of a night of music. Shortly before the show, I had the chance to catch up with Jesse of Candy Ambulance and while most of the conversation will be kept private, I’ll distill a sentiment from that conversation that may ring true for artists and creatives around the world during the times we find ourselves in: we all gotta do what we gotta do. Last night, I had to see this band. I’m sure glad I did.

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