By Tom Dellinger //
For the third stop on their current six-week tour, Portland-based band Fruition hit The Chapel last Thursday, playing long, hard and deep to the delight of a near-capacity crowd. Currently touring in support of their latest release Labor of Love, all five band members were in top form as they ripped through a pair of sets that lasted until almost 1 a.m. If you were looking to get your weekend started early and with a jolt, this was the show to be at.
After a set from Bay Area four-piece Steep Ravine, Fruition opened with the smooth soul of “Santa Fe” from their new LP and kept things going from there. Moving into the night, they drew heavily from Labor of Love and their ever-expanding catalog. I saw the quintet open for Animal Liberation Orchestra last year, and it was exciting to experience Fruition’s significant growth that was evident during this visit to SF.
Playing shows in their hometown and beyond along with stops at some of the country’s top music festivals, Fruition sounded tight, focused and seasoned at The Chapel. Both sets had a nice balance of energy as they took us on a ride that was always rock solid, varied and often dazzling. With Jay Cobb Anderson (vocals, lead guitar, harmonica), Kellen Asebroek (vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), Mimi Naja (vocals, mandolin, electric and acoustic guitar), Jeff Leonard (bass) and Tyler Thompson (drums, banjo), they showcased songs that were both sonically complex and satisfying.
Fruition draw from a number of genres — including folk, soul, blues and rock — to create an Americana feel, and on Thursday night, they leaned heavily on their rock ‘n’ roll tendencies. While their first set offered a tasty mix of styles, it also offered glimpses into their full-driving rock sound. After a short break, the second set came on strong and remained there for a while as they hit it hard and loud.
As The Chapel rang and shook with impossibly rich guitar tones and flying mandolin runs coming from Anderson and Naja that were backed with the fullness of the band’s rhythm section, the crowd responded loudly as the room once again came roaring back to life. In addition to many moments like this, it was also laced with gems like the psychedelic jam “Early Morning Wake Up” and the heavy blues rock of “Death Come Knockin'”. Throughout the night, there were many aspects to enjoy. Anderson and Naja were equally impressive in fulfilling their duties as lead vocalists and while harmonizing with Asebroek. By the time it was all over, Fruition had played a solid, two-hour show that left the fans thoroughly happy.
With a history that began with a folk-based string sound, Fruition have continued to evolve over the years, and this show in SF was solid evidence of that growth. While Labor of Love remains a joy to play over and over again, the band’s live performances take its sound well beyond what a studio recording can convey. Keep your eyes peeled for Fruition on festival lineups this summer and at your local venues — an evening of fiery chemistry, excellent musicianship and good times will most certainly be your reward.