The night was unseasonably warm for the first day of November and we were walking the streets of New Haven in short sleeves, craving some eats. Rudy’s on Chapel Street was the next destination, but the real reason for this trip to the Elm city was to see a band that had alluded me a couple of times in the past six months. Before I move into the rocking show put on by Kingsley Flood, give me a few minutes to rave about some of the best French fries (Pom Frites, Freedom Fries or what have you) I’ve ever had. Rudy’s recently moved from their original location (now occupied by Elm Bar) into a newer more slightly upscale version of itself. There is a great beer selection, I was able to grab a double IPA (Gandi-bot) from local Woodbridge CT brewers New England Brewing Co. Although it’s close to 9% alcohol, it doesn’t feel heavy at all and the hops play a prominent role but are not overpowering. It was a perfect pairing for the large order of perfectly crisp fries that came to the table. I really try to stay on the healthier side of life with my diet choices but I would make this “mistake” again and again. Add in three dipping sauces of choice from a huge menu and you have yourself a phenomenal bar snack.
OK, now that I got that off my chest…we had a solid walk to Cafe Nine to meet our friend and fellow Sushian who happened to be dressed as Jesus (it was the night after Halloween, unfortunately no one else got the memo). We found him walking the streets and blessing cars, which is a natural act for a man dressed as the “son of God”. By the time we made it into the bar, the first band was finishing up and the CT band Little Ugly was about to hit the stage. Before they got going, I was happy to catch up with Naseem, lead vocals from Kingsley Flood. The band gave us a fantastic interview earlier that week and it was great to meet them in person. It sounds like the rest of the band got to explore the pizza culture that New Haven is so widely known for, but Naseem got stuck with a Subway sandwich (also a New Haven product) on his way up from DC, total bummer. On the next trip to New Haven we will have to make it up to him for sure.
Little Ugly, a band based in West Hartford, took the stage, fresh off of an NPR performance earlier that day. This band screams a spot at the Harbor stage at the Newport Folk Festival next year. Along the lines of Kingsley Flood, they are not a traditional “folk” band. Of course elements of folk stream through their sound, however they are much closer to a band like the Avett Brothers than Tallest Man on Earth (to put things in folk perspective). This was my first time seeing the band or hearing any of their music and I was impressed by the polished set along with the response of the crowd. They definitely had some fans in the bar, and in a small space the cheers really give off a huge energy. Keep an eye out for Little Ugly as they make their way through the ranks in CT.
It had been some time since Kingsley Flood played a live show, but if there was any rust then I didn’t notice it. Lead vocalist Naseem Khuri clearly output his lyrics, giving audience members zero trouble in following along to whatever song came next. Everyone (including myself, many times) has been to that show where whether you know the song or not, no matter the venue, it’s impossible to make out the lyrics and it could really put a damper on the night. This was not a problem for KS. Personally, I love the small almost living room type feel of Cafe Nine which is a surprisingly good acoustic environment. Although the six member band seemed cramped on the small stage, they didn’t let the tight space get to them. The newest album Battles was represented to its fullest throughout the set. Fantastic, high energy performances of “Down,” “Pick Your Battles,” “Sun Gonna Lemme Shine” and what has become my favorite track “Hard Times for the Quiet Times” highlighted a set that went an hour plus. The band lived up to my high expectations 100% and I fault myself for not digging deeper to get a better hold on their back catalog (Battles is just that good!). Upcoming dates with Lucius in NYC are already sold out (to my knowledge) however with the band having roots on this side of the country, I doubt it will be very long before they come back to CT and hopefully New Haven in particular.
In summary; go get some damn French fries at Rudy’s, keep an eye out for Little Ugly on the local circuit and finally, purchase Kingsley Flood ‘s album Battles along with some concert tickets to their nearest show.
Images courtesy of Regular John’s Samsung S3