There’s a problem with a lot of “positive” music. It can sound fake, overdone, so that it comes across less inspiring than preachy and annoying. This is not a problem that we had to worry about with Jahman Brahman, who played on New Years Eve at Asheville Music Hall. The music was an eclectic mix of just about every genre you can think of, and somehow none of it clashed. It was upbeat without ever crossing the line into pop territory. At times it was a little bit intense, but never overwhelming. The guys in the group looked like they were having a good time, but it’s also clear that there’s a lot of talent and skill behind their happy sounds.
The crowd for Jahman Brahman was probably larger than the one gathered downstairs, at One Stop, to see the Phish simulcast. If you can draw a bigger crowd than Phish in Asheville, even virtual Phish, that’s impressive. But this is a band that connects with its fans and engages them. Jahman Brahman reached out to make the audience realize that life might be a little crazy and sometimes it might flat-out suck, but in the moment, everything was fantastic.
The crowd was obviously feeling the good vibes. The bartenders stayed busy serving thirsty revelers. People danced, laughed and snuggled up in the booths tucked away at the back of the room, just enjoying the spectacle. Asheville Music Hall is laid out well for shows like this, with plenty of room up front near the stage for people to dance, and space at the back for relaxing.
Near the end of the set, Jahman Brahman invited some friends to join the band on stage. Those guests included members of Nomadic and Makayan, both of whom played earlier in the evening. The collective performance of Bill Withers’ classic, “Lean on Me,” perfectly captured the feel of the night: We’re all in this together, and whatever the new year throws at us, we’ll get through it with a smile.