"Not bad for a Thursday night," a member of the Family Robinson band said settling into their set at the Red Room in Kennewick. "That's what I always say ... Every Thursday," replied band leader Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, with a laugh.
They were speaking to a lackluster crowd, made up mainly of fans on the teen side who totaled fewer than 40 people in a venue able to hold up to 350. It was a hastily put together show, evidenced by the scant crowd, especially considering the status of Robinson as a true up-and-coming singer-songwriter. His self-titled debut album features the playing of members of TV on the Radio and Grizzly Bear. The band also will be opening for TV on the Radio for a few weeks, with the next stop in Portland.
The Brooklyn folk-rock quartet did put on a great (although short) set though ripping through quite a bit of Robinson's first album. They carried the stage well even though three out of the four band members were sporting flannel. Sadly I didn't get the chance to ask, if A) it was an homage to the Northwest, B) making fun of it, or C) the grunge movement has somehow resurfaced in the concrete jungle of Brooklyn, N.Y.
They closed with a three-song blast of new tunes including "Summer of Fear" and the final song where Robinson put down his guitar for the first time and sat down at the keyboard. Robinson's voice Thursday was like a split personality. At times on the lower notes he came off scratchy and gruff sounding like The National's Matt Berninger. But as soon as he cracked through the block it turned rich and powerful. And after hearing him clear his throat multiple times and listening to him on record, I'd say his chords have been workin' overtime. But it didn't harm the music, adding depth if anything.
Opening for Robinson was a great trio from Hailey, Idaho, called Finn Riggins. Describing themselves only as "Idaho rock" they put together an impressive blending of styles from their instrumental composition "Box Elder" to their Pavement-driven dirty riffs and keyboard squall on "Glove Comprtmnt." They had great energy that was elevated by lead singer and guitarist Lisa Simpson. She had a great voice — soft and sweet when it needed to be, but able to kick in the fire of Sleater-Kinney's Corrin Tucker to amp things up. She also had great play with Eric Gilbert who pitched in some good solos and call-and-answer singing with Simpson, especially on "Comprtmnt."
Next up at the Red Room is Earlimart on Sept. 27. Go to http://redroomcoffeeandconcerthouse.com.