Jeremy Greenspan fronts Junior Boys at Black Cat on Feb. 24, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Junior Boys, a smooth Canadian synth outfit leading into R&B, recently returned to Black Cat after roughly seven years away with a new album, Waiting Game, to soothe our restless spirits.
Cloaked in darkness on the stage of Black Cat on Feb. 24, the quartet began its set with “Must Be All The Wrong Things” from the Waiting Game, released last year via City Slang. “Must Be All The Wrong Things” opened the show quietly; band principals Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus took positions at synthesizers set at the front of the stage, and the gents slowly coaxed a gentle drone from their rigs. With the tone of the song and the dim light, Junior Boys set an atmosphere of wonder and anticipation for things to come.
Toward the end of the song, Jeremy Greenspan vocalizes a few sweetly melancholic words, but “Must Be All The Wrong Things” was primarily an instrumental number that set the table for the rest of the set. By the set’s third song, Junior Boys were rhythmically filling the air with chill melodies, such as that of “Night Walk” from the new album. Jeremy and Matt were backed by a bassist and drummer who kept the pace light and added a breezy character to the smooth and reflective compositions.
Watch the official music video for “Night Walk” by Junior Boys on YouTube:
Right before the show’s midpoint, Junior Boys played the title track from Waiting Game. Compared to some other tracks, “Waiting Game” was positively rousing with inviting synths and a fully realized lyric from Jeremy. The tranquility of the song contained layers — introspection, loneliness, and also optimism.
The latest six-year break between albums aside, Junior Boys generally have been a prolific outfit since their first record in 2004. The band has released six-full length studio albums and two EPs in that time. The show at Black Cat drew on most of them, weaving two songs from debut record Last Exit in the middle of the set. One of those two songs was the uptempo standout “Teach Me How to Fight.” But aside from four songs from Waiting Game across the 16-song set, Junior Boys favored Big Black Coat (2016) and So This Is Goodbye (2006) with three selections from each.
Big Black Coat’s title track closed the main set, and it appropriately saw Junior Boys off at their most raucous. Jeremy sang with a repetitive urgency while techno-like beats bubbled up throughout the song. The encore included fan-favorite “Banana Ripple” from 2011’s It’s All True. The shuffling tune kept spirits high; energy rose through the show as the songs generally became faster-paced, and “Banana Ripple” was a full-blown dance epiphany, sending the bustling audience at the Cat with a high.
In performance, Junior Boys manifested as laidback and chill, and this provided an opportunity for friends to gather and shift their positions around the club. Jeremy and company felt like good company who dropped by for an evening of enlightening chat, and you didn’t necessarily feel compelled to stand fixed to one spot for the entire night. This was a good thing, and the openness of the crowd made it easy to absorb the sounds of Junior Boys, engage in a drink or a dance, and ruminate on what you were hearing.
Here are a few more pictures of Junior Boys performing at Black Cat on Feb. 24, 2023.