In perhaps as inspired of a double bill as Boston has seen this fall, Adam Arcuragi and Spirit Family Reunion both descended on Berklee’s cozy Cafe 939 on Friday night. Despite the early start time, the room quickly filled with a crowd that was equal parts attentive and enthusiastic as the two rising Northeast-based bands – each an author of one of 2012’s finest albums – dueled over setlists composed backstage on paper plates.
Arcuragi and his standout band, the Lupine Chorale Society, played first. The quartet stuck largely to material from its January release Like a fire that consumes all before it, hitting on highlights “Oh I See” and “Port Song,” breathing new life into the arrangement of “The Well” and also dipping into Arcuragi’s back catalog for “Broken Throat” and a spirited rendition of “Bottom of the River.” Arcuragi is a criminally underrated singer and songwriter, and an equally deft bandleader. The group’s time on stage was perhaps my favorite 45 minutes of live-music-listening of 2012.
Spirit Family Reunion, on the other hand, is riding significant buzz generated by tireless touring and a standout performance at this year’s Newport Folk Fest. The six-piece acoustic ensemble from New York City did not disappoint in a slightly lengthier set that touched on both of the group’s studio releases, well-chosen covers and even some new material. If you were shut out of this performance, don’t sleep on tickets for this one – Spirit Family returns to play TT the Bear’s with Joe Fletcher on Nov. 30.
Adam Arcuragi & the Lupine Chorale Society
Spirit Family Reunion