“How you doin’ tonight, y’all?” That ordinary question came out pretty odd, considering Robert Randolph asked it around 2:30 in the afternoon. But don’t hold the time slip against him—the hard-touring pedal-steel guitar wiz had never headlined a daytime show until Saturday and Sunday. Welcome to the world of Brooklyn Bowl’s new “brunch” sets.
The concept still has some catching on to do, judging from Sunday’s turnout. Despite $10 ticket prices and a bonus free-bowling-for-locals incentive—not to mention the proximity of ideal brunch eats just feet from the music room—the Linq venue’s long wooden floor sat overwhelmingly empty, as most of the small crowd watched from the lanes, the adjacent restaurant and tables near the back. Parents of interested, young music listeners, in particular, missed out on a great opportunity; the shows were all-ages, kids under 12 got in free and those who did attend conveyed their appreciation at the rare opportunity to witness a significant touring act by twirling and dancing gleefully.
If Randolph and his five-piece Family Band were bothered by the numbers, they never showed it, putting forth their usual high energy for a full 90 minutes. The group has few live rivals when deep within a funky groove, and the 33-year-old Randolph remains the spellbinding presence at its center. Late in the set, when fans near the front bought him a beer, he gulped it down smilingly, then used its glass in place of his slide, guiding the empty receptacle along the strings. It felt spontaneous and joyful and wonderfully weird with the sun still shining outside.