Reno soul/funk band The Sextones filled The Saint on Saturday night with both eager fans and their vintage sound. Since the band finished its newest album “Moonlight Vision” it’s been on a roll, with high profile out-of-town shows, creative promotional roll-outs and a string of positive reviews from popular blogs such as Okayplayer, Popdust and Purevolume. And it was apparent from the well-planned, slow building set intro that The Sextones weren’t going to let any of that momentum go to waste.
Like a carefully curated casino performance, the musicians worked their way through the set with pinpoint precision. From synced up step-togethers during the Archie Bell and The Drells’ 1968 hit “Tighten Up” to their fastidious crowd interaction and banter, The Sextones supplied a night’s worth of entertainment in each song. Great showmanship, however, means nearly nothing without the talent to back it up and The Sextones have plenty of that.
Their terrific musicianship shared center stage with classic original songwriting and throwback covers that hearkened back to their main demographic’s heyday. Drummer Dan Weiss was the driving force and relentlessly funky while bassist Alex Korostinsky was stoic in stage presence but boisterous with his playing as his melodic lines wormed through each song. Lead singer Mark Sexton, a supremely gifted guitarist, wooed the crowd with the style of Adam Levine and a voice that falls somewhere between Chris Isaak and Delbert McClinton. Coupled with his chameleonic playing, Sexton is a more than charming performer.
The highlight of the set was when, as their original tune “Goodbye Yesterday” was ending, Sexton exclaimed “I wanna rock out!” and launched into the album’s title track “Moonlight Vision.” With Hendrix-esque guitar playing and Sly Stone phrasing, the tune enveloped the crowd.
The primal sounds of Hopeless Jack initially seemed a bit out of place at The Saint with its hip decor, exposed brick, and older patronage. In fact, during Hopeless Jack original “The Deal” a few members of the audience looked genuinely frightened by the duo’s intense delivery and performance. But as the night wore on, the bluesy two-piece from Reno ingratiated themselves to the growing crowd and won them over with their heavy take on classic Delta blues.
Having just come off a monthlong European tour where the band played “28 shows in 26 days,” drummer Spencer York and singer/guitarist Jack Beisel were in sync and confident as they worked through a 45-minute set filled with greasy slide playing and growling vocals.
The set’s highpoint was a song called “Firefly” from the band’s 2013 release “Don’t Waste Your Time No Money Here” that encapsulated everything there is to love about the band; pounding drums, no-nonsense guitar and high-octane performance.
The sound, run by house soundman Dustin “Dusty Bones” Nevis and guest engineer Todd Rold, was impeccable and continues to be one of the high points of the establishment. The great turnout and pleasant atmosphere last night furthered The Saint’s reputation as “the Brew Brothers of Midtown” — high praise coming from some Renoites.
Related story: The making of “Moonlight Vision.”