And just like that, there was Park City Music Hall: the newest spot in the northeast to catch a whole lot of really hot ticket shows this spring and summer season. Seated in the center of vibrant Fairfield Ave in Black Rock, Bridgeport—an area where locally curated live music has flourished for years—Park City Music Hall (PCMH) is actually the reincarnation of the old Acoustic Cafe. And while the new joint is bigger and shinier with a full on restaurant and new bar setup, PCMH is also strongly echoing the live music magic conjured up for years by the old beloved space.
Moving ahead after an exciting start in 2021, PCMH is scheduled in the next few months to bring in a wide range of artists, from jazz masters like Will Bernard and The Soul Rebels to jam scene veterans like members of moe., Goose, and more. Heck, at the end of next month you can even see a cast member of Trailer Park Boys throwing a summer block party here.
Yesterday afternoon, PCMH made one of its biggest announcements to date in DJ Logic and Friends, a show set for June 4 which will see the groundbreaking turntable artist perform with John Medeski, two members of Lotus, and Rob Compa of Dopapod (who’s keyboardist Eli Winderman is additionally set to perform with opening jazztronica act Muscle Tough).
Last weekend, The Jamwich was in town to catch one of PCMH’s most well received nights of music yet: the brilliant, collaborative project Talkpeck Soundsystem (TPSS). As the name suggests, it’s a tribute to three titans in Talking Heads, Vulfpeck, and LCD Soundsystem. It also might suggest total gimmick, at least to those are are unfamiliar with the experience. Yet as was assured by a brilliant showing last weekend in park city (which saw a sold out crowd of several hundred people), it’s really anything but.
The performance at Park City Music Hall from this supergroup (on this particular night featuring two members of Lotus) was ambitious and quixotic, yet at the same time so clean and professional (and it wasn’t just the snazzy white suits donned by all members). Essentially an all-star jam session, TPSS in its swanky presentation turns off-the-cuff jamming into TV-ready, album quality magic.
Bandleader Matt McNulty is like the Tony Stark of Talkpeck Soundsystem. In and around a recent move from Southern CT to Philadelphia, McNulty has used his long established musical connections and resources to gather the best local talent from the former alongside heavy hitters from the jamtronica and funk scenes of the latter. The result is a that, on rare occassion, creates nights of searingly tight, explosive nights of live collaborative music.
Aside from his vast entourage, McNulty doubles as a formidable guitar player and lead singer for TPSS and he is—almost surprisingly—incredible. There’s an intensity to McNulty in his role as TPSS’ lead, especially in his vocal performances, that takes one aback. Maybe he’s just channeling the zany ghosts of David Byrne and James Murphy. But one gets the impression that it’s more him getting swept up in the feverous talent being churned out on stage all around him.
Below, you can stream audio of the whole show, courtesy of local taper Mike Deary. As a good example of the above, take a listen to the performance of “I Can Change,” and wait to hear PCMH’s crowd totally lose it in an uproar of elation. Or, skip right to the Vulfpeck bangers like “Funky Duck” and “1612” which feature pop soul artist Elise Testone take lead vocals, who definitely hits close to the original spark of Antwon Stanley. Or, go to the moments with guest sit-in and former player Jeff Engborg (TPSS is a continually revolving project of different people), and hear him and his dynamite synthesizer solos give the show its other clear highlights.
We all know how it goes: at places all across the country, even when bigger artists are booked, sometimes rooms are just tough. Empty. And we know there’s a slew of different reasons that happens.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case right now for Park City Music Hall, a place where on most nights audiences are showing up in full. And that goes for artists big or small and local—expect Black Rock favorites like The Swamp Hogs or The Alpaca Gnomes to very possibly amass similar crowd sizes to those of scheduled legends like Steve Kimock or Eric Krasno. In the long-gone aftermath of the closing of Bridgeport’s Gathering Of The Vibes, the music scene in Connecticut continues to maintain a steady rise, and Black Rock has been taking its place as one of the hubs of that scene (beside still strong sister scenes like New Haven and Hartford). And the newest hub of that hub is PCMH.
McNulty himself returns to the venue in May with a different musical collaboration project, Host of Ghosts, which will feature members of Ghost Light and Kung Fu. Certainly keep an eye on that show but also on everything else that is coming ahead at Park City Music Hall. For for more information, visit their website at https://parkcitymusichall.com.
Check out the full audio of last weekend’s performance from Talkpeck Soundsytem at Park City Music Hall below, below that some more images of the evening.