The Covid-19 pandemic has likely changed the music industry in some ways forever. The early and late socially distanced shows at Crystal Bay’s Crown Room were a gateway for both fans and bands to ease back into enjoying one another in person, while operating within the guidelines set forth by state government.
Bay Area band Con Brio, named for an Italian musical direction meaning “with spirit” and creating up-tempo R&B and soul, fittingly played the last of these split set shows on June 26, as it’s full speed ahead at Crystal Bay from here on out.
While I attended what I affectionately refer to as the 7 o’clock AARP set, frontman Ziek McCarter doesn’t know the meaning of wading in slowly. As he always does, Ziek brought his unmistakeable energy and charisma from the opening notes to get the modest crowd out of their seats and moving for the brief 75-minute set.
Seeing McCarter front an energetic band that’s been paying together for more than 10 years always is a treat. His smile is infectious, his moves smooth as silk, and when he drops the occasional King of Pop falsetto, the hair on your neck stands up.
The band was a bit toned down compared to what the later set likely held. But there were still some bright moments with solo and duet work from saxophonist Marcus Stephens and Brendan Liu on trumpet. Ben Andrews can really bring it on guitar, and his solo on the last song of the early set was just a snippet of the chops he possesses.
To defy Ziek McCarter and the entire band Con Crio when they’re in the pocket and swaying side to side in unison to a groove, its just not possible to stand still, and it deserves the full rooms of the future. Come back soon Con Brio.