Of the many pleasures an event like the Fringe Festival provides, probably the greatest is the ability to occasionally discover hidden gems amongst the line-up. Those times when your decision to take a chance and check out a performance you might not otherwise have given a second look pays off big time. For me, it happened when I decided to attend a performance by folk rock band "The Lonely Ones." I'm not entirely sure what led me to the decision; it may have simply been the fact that in an episode of the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a society of vampire groupies romanticize the monsters by referring to them as "The Lonely Ones," and the name has always stuck with me (sadly, this is not the actual origin of the band's name). But whatever the reason, I'm glad I added the group to my list of shows to check out.
The second-floor performance space at Writers & Books was transformed since I'd been there the previous day for the "Not Wallace Stevens" poetry reading. Simple changes like the curtains being drawn and the addition of some stage lighting gave the room a much more intimate feel. Add in an audience of only about 15 or so, and even lead singer Levi Gangi remarked that it was a nice change of pace from the rowdier venues in which the band is used to playing. The space felt just right for the group's songs, with their emphasis on strong lyrics and tight harmonies.
In addition to Gangi, "The Lonely Ones" is rounded out by singer Samantha Thomas and John Muoio, on upright bass and guitar. In addition to vocals, Gangi alternated between guitar and piano throughout the show. The band played an hour-long acoustic set that included mostly original music, with a few covers sprinkled in.
Things started off with toe-tapping originals "Abilene" and "Smile" before moving on to the piano-driven melodies of "Although I've Never Been to Paris," with Muoio's deep, rumbling bass providing a nice contrast throughout. The fact that "Falling Slowly," from the "Once" soundtrack, slipped easily into the setlist should tell you everything you need to know about the group's vibe. U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" as well as Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold On Me" were also gracefully tailored into the line-up, before closing with another catchy original, "All I Can Do."
If I had one complaint, it was that band felt much looser with Gangi on guitar compared to when he was on piano. But for the most, the show was pretty flawless, and the music provided the perfect soundtrack to a chilly fall afternoon. That hour completely flew by.
The Lonely Ones have another Fringe performance scheduled for next weekend, which will include a percussionist, and the band promise it will be a more rockin' show. If there's any justice in the world, there will be a line out the door to get in. I know I'll be there.
(The Lonely Ones will play again Saturday 9/28 6 p.m. at Writers & Books. Tickets cost $8.)