Concert Review: John Krautner expands on bubblegum and we all danced

When John Krautner prefaced Saturday night’s Blowout set at Small's with an explanation of how each song he would play corresponded to “a different flavor of gum,” I was, to put it kindly, a little dubious. But, to be fair, I’m not a sunshine, rainbows, and bubblegum type of girl. John Krautner (formerly of the Go and Conspiracy of Owls) also doesn't claim to be anything that he’s not.

Gibson Maestro in hand and red bandanna tied unceremoniously around his forehead, what you see is what you get — a true rock 'n' roller hellbent on making you have a good time. His debut solo album Fun with Gum Vol. 1, recently released on Burger Records, overlords of all chilled out/irreverent rock, is more than appropriately titled. Opening with the first song on the album, “I Need Sugar,” John explained that this here is your traditional, pink bubblegum flavor, and sure enough the crowd started dancing carefree and suddenly I remembered summer is just around the corner and Kids in the Hall was the best show ever. It doesn’t hurt that Krautner is backed by band members Ben Luckett on drums, Steve Nawara on bass, and Justin Walker on lead guitar, each one a talented musician with their own rock 'n' roll pedigree. The band delivered nearly every song off the new album and highlights included “Lion’s Eyes,” a song about a guy roaming from loud parties to midnight shows maddeningly confronting people who “don’t know how to live” and “Music is The Thing” featuring dreamy Byrds-esque harmonies and an effortless guitar solo (check out the trombone on the original recording). The audience wasn’t afraid to talk back, ask questions, and dance with abandon as the flavors got a little more psychedelic (I recall “Stairway to Heaven” gum). A truly good time was had by all, and really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

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