Vans “Acoustic Basement” Tour Kicks Off At The Space

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Geoff Rickly performed tracks off his 'Mix Tape 1' solo release at the kickoff of the Vans Acoustic Basement Tour. (Nick Caito)

Geoff Rickly performed tracks off his ‘Mix Tape 1′ solo release at the kickoff of the Vans Acoustic Basement Tour. (Nick Caito)

When the Acoustic Basement was added to the 2012 Warped Tour, its purpose was to give fans a chill, relaxed, and intimate show with the musicians. Meeting with success last summer, its creator, the ex- Therefore I Am guitarist and Connecticut native Brian Marquis, was tasked with making it an official, month long tour.

Friday’s show at The Space in Hamden was the first of the tour, which goes through the midwest and up the east coast.  If giving fans a relaxed and interactive basement show was the goal, it was certainly accomplished.

From Koji (described simply as an artist, activist, and adventurer from Pennsylvania) fixing technical difficulties and telling stories of merchandising woes to Vinnie Caruana enticing big crowd singalongs, it was a fan’s playground.

“I’m super stoked that people are excited about all the artists on the tour and the idea of the tour,” said Marquis. “It’s really fun.”

Koji recounted a few stories with the audience, from merch and travel woes to philosophical takes on community and punk. (Nick Caito)

Koji recounted a few stories with the audience, from merch and travel woes to philosophical takes on community and punk. (Nick Caito)

The atmosphere was in no small part due to the actual venue. The performance area at The Space is, literally, in a basement. Originally the tour was set to begin at the Webster Underground in Hartford, but crossed wires resulted in a conflicted booking with the Hopeless Records ‘Take Action’ tour. The mix up resulted in Marquis booking the Hamden venue shortly after a performance at The Outer Space in December.

“I already like the room,” said Marquis.  “I’ve played here three times now. It just kind of worked out. It wasn’t planned, but it’s nice that it came up.”

Vinnie Caruana played solo songs as well as tracks from his groups The Movielife and I Am Avalanche. (Nick Caito)

Vinnie Caruana played solo songs as well as tracks from his groups The Movielife and I Am Avalanche. (Nick Caito)

“It’s like The Bronze from Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” said Geoff Rickly, the former Thursday frontman, about the venue. “Huge compliment, by the way.”

The Acoustic Basement Tour is only the second round of solo performances for Rickly (the first being a series last fall with Anthony Green), whose group disbanded early last year after 15 years together. Rickly was open in expressing mixed emotions at the new phase in his life, both in private conversation and while on stage.

Matty Arsenault of A Loss For Words brought more punch to the Acoustic Basement, though they also dropped a few tracks with heavy R&B vibes. (Nick Caito)

Matty Arsenault of A Loss For Words brought more punch to the Acoustic Basement, though they also dropped a few tracks with heavy R&B vibes. (Nick Caito)

“It’s weird, a learning experience. Exciting, lonely. It’s great, I get to do whatever I want, which is fun. There’s lots of great stuff, but super bummer stuff, because I really miss those guys,” Rickly said. “Just their company, being on stage and having my favorite group of players in the world behind me. Knowing that they’re going to be great no matter what I do, no matter what I fuck up, that they’re going to be incredible.”

Rickly’s set mostly consisted of work from his “Mix Tape 1,” (download for free here) including his creepy/cool (but not-so-acoustic) rendition of Usher’s “Climax,” as well as a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” Rickly said his new work is drawing from a range of influences, from PJ Harvey to country and R&B.

Geoff Rickly talks with a fan at The Space. All the artists spent most of the evening behind the merch table hanging out with fans. (Nick Caito)

Geoff Rickly talks with a fan at The Space. All the artists spent most of the evening behind the merch table hanging out with fans. (Nick Caito)

All the performers stuck around to talk to fans during and after the show, with Matty Arsenault of A Loss For Words posing for at least a dozen fan photos. At the end of the night Brian Marquis was happy and looking forward to a good tour.

“It’s been a lot of planning for me, like four or five months of planning, so it’s nice to just finally be on the thing I’ve been working on for so long,” Marquis said. “I’ve been doing a lot of non creative work, and it’s nice to just get out with my boys, play some songs, and have a good time.”

For more area tour dates and information go to acousticbasement.com

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