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Junip's vintage, bearded rock played to capacity crowd at the Earl

Great show all around. Except that U2 cover. Perhaps it's the ultimate ironic statement.

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A friend of mine noted one day that he who grows a beard, spots a thousand more around him. I can't grow a beard (consequence of spotty genetics) but I needn't one to notice the plethora of fortunate, and unfortunate facial hair swarming the main room at the Earl Sunday night for Junip's second-to-last performance of their current tour.

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I don't mean disdain; more than a symbol of awesomeness, beards have become a defining characteristic of the I-know-it-when-I-see-it neo-vintage roots-organic aesthetic that gets tons of air-time these days. It's a simple fact.

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And if there ever was a band that played to those vintage inclinations, with a sparkle of 2010 chic, it's Junip. Led by guitar virtuoso José González, the Swedish three-piece, sometimes five-piece creates folkster rock on a canvas of yesteryear acoustics, driving bass lines, and effects-pedal accents.

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Sunday night it played a dozen or so tracks from their latest release, Fields, to what seemed to be a capacity crowd at the Earl. Their set progressed at a firm pace, with impressive precision, through most of the up-beat tracks, using songs like "Rope & Summit" and "To The Grain" to slowly build up the energy in the room.

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The high mark of the show was a prolonged and remixed "Sweet & Bitter," taking an effects pedal up to the mic, González and crew extended the electric vibes at the end of the song for a good minute plus. I wanted the excellent Elias Araya to bring back the boom-bap beat on the drums and keep the song going for another five minutes. Not so, like a few of the other songs, the band simply collapses into silence when you least expect it. Only for the crowd to eat it all up.



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