1. Gregory Alan Isakov takes the stage with a fellow band member and there are no theatrics. No stage lifts or fireworks. Just two musicians with their instruments—Isakov on the guitar and Steve Varney on the banjo. They begin to play “San Luis” from Isakov’s 2018 album Evening Machines. It’s a heartfelt song about a flitting time in the narrator’s life, and a song that perfectly captures the indie-folk sound that his fans have come to love.
2. As the set goes on, Isakov is joined by the rest of his band. I realize the room has filled in and there is a decent crowd, but also that this unique artist, who shows hints of bluegrass throughout his discography, should be appreciated by many more.
3. While the Brooklyn Bowl venue is rather spacious, the stage and floor is perfect for an up-close show. It seems like everyone in the pit has an ideal view of the band. The adjacent bowling lanes lined with couches for relaxing help to create a special, intimate setting. It’s like having a jam session with your friends, except you don’t have to settle for the leftover beer and snacks in the fridge because there are better options at the Bowl.
4. Isakov’s humor throughout the night also helps to build that hanging-out-with-friends feeling. When introducing “The Stable Song,” an older but popular track among fans, he jokes, “We realize we don’t have any hits, but we heard this one at the grocery store, so that’s pretty cool.”
5. Before it’s time to go, Isakov tells the crowd he wants to leave us with something “happier,” and we see him thinking about what song to play as the crowd shouts different song titles. In the end, a song called “Idaho” wins and the band prepares the proper instruments; Some musicians played multiple instruments throughout the night. It’s a pleasure to see them interact with the audience and understand the material so well, they could play through the song beautifully with no excuses or hiccups. There is no mistaking how talented every musician on the stage is.