Punch Brothers Continue to Defy Expectations at Town Hall

Let’s get one thing straight: Punch Brothers are not a bluegrass band. Not strictly speaking, anyway. Their sound is an ingenious conglomeration of rock, blues, funk, jazz and classical; they just happen to have a prodigious knack for bluegrass and the right instruments.

Last Thursday night, they didn’t hide their delight in playing the classic Town Hall. Their set was preceded by Jesca Hoop, whose grim themes are glossed over by poetic, abstract lyrics. She plucks her electric guitar like a banjo, and her breathy vocals belie her underlying edge.

Punch Brothers, meanwhile, use the mandolin and violin to mimic an electric guitar with surprising success. In their sliding blues notes, minor keys, thrilling harmonies and grooving bass lines, they expose an edginess as seductive as it is haunting. Their experimental approach unearths sounds, laden with beguiling textures, that those instruments didn’t know they could make…

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