Greta Valenti is talking about the temperature in the downstairs room at Temperance when she says, “You want to know what Louisiana is like? It’s like this. All the time,” before the band she fronts, Beaux Gris Gris, plays “Fistful Of Dirt,” but she might as well have been discussing the band itself.
Loose (there’s a setlist literally under my feet which is essentially ignored), relaxed, and gifted, Beaux Gris Gris And The Apocalypse are what I’ve always imagined it to be like when you wander off Beale Street in New Orleans. Go into any bar, in my mind at least, and you’ll find a gifted band in the corner. This has the same vibe.
And it does so right from “Trouble Is Coming.” This is a band with no image, really, and no gimmicks, not unless you count having superb songs as a gimmick at least.
Temperance is tiny and there’s no real stage, but even so, Valenti goes for a stroll around in “Heartbreaker” before what happens is they essentially distill rock ‘n’ roll down to its purest form and call it “My Baby Was Rich.”
“Thrill Me” is a contrast, with its dark, gothic feel, and if that’s the first time really that Robin Davey (who, along with Valenti, is the foundation on which BGGATA is built) lets himself go, it’s not the last.
It is a feature of the band that each member brings something disparate but which works. It’s keyboard player Emma Jonson’s turn on “Baby Baby” (and these are her last shows with the band) before “Louisiana Good Ride” ends the first set.
Doing it in two due to the heat, after “Gris Gris,” then the songs are noticeably more chilled after the break.
A sultry version of Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” an interesting take on Portishead’s “Glory Box,” and a jazz-infused “Bungalow Paradise” are all examples of that, but there’s a freewheeling feel too. Not just with the setlist, but a sense of fun too.
The layout of the venue means that several people, MV included, are in a room adjacent to the show to escape the heat and the cramped seating. It’s about 5 feet from the stage, and the band plays “Bastards” from in there, seemingly unplanned. Most things are, it seems.
“Fill Me Up” sees them all back together, and a band brimming with ideas plays two new songs as if to underline it. “I Told My Baby To Go” and a soulful “Sad When I’m Dancing” are both excellent additions too.
They don’t go off for an encore, but if they did, you suspect that it would have come before the lust-filled “Make It With You” and their signature tune, “What’s My Name.”
They’ve been on stage (give or take an interval) for two and three-quarter hours at this point, but there’s still one more: “Nothing Compares 2 U” is given a slight makeover.
And there isn’t. Not really. There are plenty of bands mixing all kinds of styles, but no one quite does it with the twist of Cajun that Beaux Gris Gris And The Apocalypse do.
What’s their name? Watch them live, and you won’t forget it. It’s quite the spectacle.