LIVE: HANZOLO AT LARK HALL, 5/15/2021

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Hanzolo is no stranger to Albany. The funk band out of Cooperstown often makes the 90-minute trip to the Capital City to play before 518 crowds. Prior to the pandemic, the seven-piece band made a name for itself by earning the opening set for Pearlpalooza. That was 2019. The band’s show at Lark Hall on Saturday night, May 15, marked its first return to the Cradle of the Union since virus-related shutdowns started last March.

The grand hall on the corner of Lark Street and Hudson Avenue is a holy place, literally. Icons of Christianity are still visible on the former church pews Jennifer and Justin Miller salvaged from a Watervliet church. The hall’s bar, too, is made of wood reclaimed from the house of worship. Some of those attending the show spoke of a higher energy verberating through the room, recognizing the return of live music. It wasn’t the first show to play the stage. The Miller’s hosted a series of shows labeled “Practice Sessions” that were live-streamed on social media in recent months. It was, however, the first show for many of those masked up and dancing — socially distanced — on the wood floor.

Saturday night’s show featured only six players, but it was still boasting its ever-present percussion and horn sections that have made them stand out. It was the band’s first live show “in awhile,” according to its social media page, but the performance didn’t give up the ghost. A 20-minute delay from its scheduled 8 p.m. didn’t hurt things any, either. Horns and bass drove a danceable beat that filled the expansive room, prompting many in the crowd to get up on their feet to dance. Frontman Carl Loewenguth came out sporting rose-colored spectacles and a classic, gold Casio digital watch — an apt harbinger of brighter, groovier times ahead.

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