Greatness is often discovered on the side stages of music festivals, typically witnessed by only a few thousand people during the early sets leading up to the headliners. Most in the crowd are previously hungover, traveling to the bathrooms/concessions as they now join the diverted migration of people congregating in mass around the unmistakable sound of real talent. Upon returning to their friends, they are extraordinarily tardy with whatever task they were supposed to accomplish and now life-long fans of whoever was able to pied-piper them away in the first place. There was no greater example of this phenomenon then what occurred at around 2pm last Friday in Grant Park when Del Water Gap owned the Chi for an afternoon. The impressive skyline an appropriate setting for ascension of a previously unknown star, now burning too bright to ignore.
The audience had tripled in size by the end of their hour long set with me frantically searching for more live footage of this new revelation, becoming more excited with the scarcity of it on the web. After extensive research I found the general info on Spotify and debut album was in fact the only backstory so far of Holden Jaffe, who resides in Brooklyn and is inspired by “romantic encounters in dimly lit rooms.” Playing through his NYU days with rotating members the band ultimately dismantled into a solo project named for a scenic national park he thought had a “cool name”. Pretty incredible that this guy almost quit music two years ago but as we all know, life happens.
Performing for Holden has been a learning experience on taking care of himself. He admits that he goes through highs and lows of life.
“not taking care of myself, not sleeping, drinking a ton, losing my voice, getting freaked out and then like ‘Great!’ So then I quit drinking, I’ll drink tea, meditate, take some supplements and sleep a ton and take care of myself, do a lot of mindfulness practice. And then I forget, and I slip back.”—Holden Jaffe
His stage presence is that of a seasoned veterans but with the obvious enthusiasm of a rookie just happy to finally be in the “show”. Their sound is impossible to pinpoint to other artists because they resonate so many different ones at once. A blend of the better music that has emerged in the last quarter century they are an homage to childhood influences and yet completely original, which is the real trick to Jaffe’s musical genius. The obvious connection between him and the band is blatantly beautiful. Playing off each other with a flawless sense of anticipation, an unwritten intangible that usually takes years to perfect was on full display last week in the second city. Personally, I have never seen a more natural rock-star who isn’t famous…yet.