by Joey Haney
The California Honeydrops brought their brand of feel-good party-blues to Lost on Main Street last Friday. They are kicking off a North American tour, and Chico was lucky enough to be their second stop. Word had been spreading for weeks that they were coming to town, and by Friday night a line had already formed outside of Lost. Before long, hopeful concert-goers were queued up past Main Street Pizza, vocally worrying about the odds of buying tickets at the door.
The audience’s excitement on the street only increased inside, as the crowd swelled in the hour between the doors opening and the Honeydrops taking the stage. Their set started with “Like You Mean It,” an upbeat ode to loving lustily. The audience responded immediately; the beer-swigging standees near the stage instantaneously morphed into a frothy mass of dancers. The California Honeydrops are obviously their own best warm-up act.
They Honeydrops segued smoothly into “Junker’s Blues,” a spritely paean to the pleasures of cannabis. The biggest cheer of the night came when lead singer Lech Wierzynski proclaimed that “…just one hit off this reefer is all this Polish boy needs.” The crowd at Lost was especially moved by this song about marijuana and ice cream cake, and they wiggled and bounced excitedly as the band launched into the first of several musical breakdowns during “Junker’s Blues.” Wierzynski stepped back from his microphone to toot the trumpet during the mid song jam.
The audience at this point was entirely under the influence of the party atmosphere. Each song dissolved into upbeat jam sessions. Wierzynski pelvic thrusted his way around the stage, blowing trumpet whenever he wasn’t seducing the crowd with this honey-sweet vocal stylings. A woman fell off her seat at the bar, and laid on the ground laughing while the beleaguered bartenders tried to keep up with an increasingly thirsty crowd of celebrants.
The drummer, Ben Malament, occasionally exchanged his simple but effective drum-kit for a washboard. These folkier, almost Appalachian tunes did little to slow down the crowd. Couples were swinging and spinning one another around throughout the dance floor. Half the band jumped off-stage to perform, sing, and dance with their adoring audience. Everyone seemed to be pushing their limits.
Wierzynski tried to kick it up yet another notch. He called on the audience to divide into two groups, and challenged them to a “freak-out dance-off.” One side would scream, leap, and writhe as hard as they could, defying the creeping exhaustion of a night already spent dancing. The other half the room then took their turn to try and out-wiggle their opponents. The band goaded and encouraged the increasingly sweaty displays of enthusiastic prowess. And though one side was more explosive than the other, everyone was a winner.
In the end, the Honeydrops were definitely a show worth going to. It takes a special kind of band to get a red-eyed crowd up and dancing the way they were at Lost last Friday. The band is talented and obviously having fun. They give it their all, and by the end of the night, as they performed “I Want to Go Home” during their encore, they had obviously played their hearts out.