Smile Politely

Andy Frasco’s electric night at Canopy Club evokes Jimmy Buffet ethos

A rock concert is in full swing, the stage awash with the glow of blue and white lights. The lead singer, clad in a yellow shirt, commands the stage from atop a piano, microphone in hand. To their side, a guitarist strums a vibrant red guitar, while the bassist plucks at the strings of a blue bass guitar. Behind them, the drummer keeps time on a drum kit complete with cymbals. The audience, visible in the foreground, is caught up in the energy of the performance, their hands raised high in the air. The backdrop to this lively scene is a large screen and various pieces of stage equipment.
Derrick Philips

Last week I published my Five Things in September article, and I listed seeing Andy Frasco live as one of my top suggestions for the month. I had missed his set at Summer Camp, but many people had told me it was among the best of the festival. Last Friday night, in a relatively full Canopy Club, a palpable shift in energy marked the transition from the opening act, Dogs on a Pile, to the headlining performance by Andy Frasco & The U.N. Dogs in a Pile, though technically proficient, seemed to lack the kinetic energy necessary to invigorate the crowd. The room was filled with a sense of anticipation, a collective yearning for something more. Enter Andy Frasco, a man who might just be the millennial’s Jimmy Buffett.

Frasco bounded onto the stage to his band jamming, donning a LeBron James jersey, a lit cigarette in his mouth, instantly altering the room’s atmosphere. It was as if the spirit of Jimmy Buffett had been reincarnated, not with margaritas, but with a modern twist of ganja-infused laid-back attitude. The crowd, once static, was now animated, swaying and dancing as if propelled by the music’s boundless energy.

The night was particularly special due to the presence of Richie, Frasco’s son, who was filling in on bass. Throughout the evening, the band engaged in a playful yet challenging exercise: they would spontaneously insert cover songs into their set, forcing young Richie to adapt in real time. From the grunge anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana to the glam-rock classic “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard, Richie demonstrated astonishing musical agility, much to the delight of the audience.

The stage is set for a performance, illuminated by white and blue lights that cast an ethereal glow. A large screen dominates the backdrop, featuring a cartoon image of a man with striking blue hair and a vibrant green shirt. The text above the image announces “Andy Frasco and the UN”, hinting at the act to follow. Musical instruments, including a drum set, are poised on the stage, ready to bring music to life. The background is swallowed in darkness, allowing the stage and its setup to take center stage in anticipation of the performance.
Derrick Philips

The setlist was an exhilarating ride, commencing with “Let’s Talk About It,” a funk-infused, hallucinogen-themed number featuring an electrifying saxophone solo. But the music was merely one facet of the experience that is an Andy Frasco & The U.N. concert. Frasco is a consummate entertainer, interspersing his songs with humorous anecdotes and engaging storytelling, thereby fostering a sense of communal participation.

Midway through the performance, the members of Dogs on a Pile returned to the stage, setting the scene for an extraordinary collaborative jam session. The atmosphere was electric, charged with a sense of musical adventure. The two bands seamlessly melded into one, blurring the lines between individual and collective artistry. Drummers from both bands initiated an intricate drum solo, swapping kits without missing a beat. The synchronicity was astonishing, as if they were two sides of the same rhythmic coin. The drummers switched places in the middle of the solo, yet the transition was so fluid that it felt like a single, continuous performance. Two guitarists pulled off a similar feat standing nuts-to-butt with the guitarist in the back strumming the strings while the other moved his fingers up and down the fretboard, delivering an amazing two-headed solo.

This jam session was more than just a fusion of two bands; it was a celebration of the limitless possibilities that arise when talented musicians come together in a spirit of creative exploration. It was a moment that encapsulated the essence of what makes live music so magical: the capacity for spontaneous, unscripted beauty that emerges from collective improvisation.

A dynamic scene unfolds on a stage bathed in blue and purple lights. In the center, a person is immersed in playing a black drum set, their body language expressing the rhythm and energy of the music. They are dressed casually in a gray t-shirt adorned with orange text. The drum set itself is an impressive array of various drums and several shimmering cymbals, all waiting to be struck in the next beat of the performance. The background is swallowed in darkness, allowing the vibrant stage lights and the drummer to take center stage in this captivating moment.
Derrick Philips

Andy Frasco seems to be carving out a similar niche for himself among Millennials that Jimmy Buffett has long held for Boomers and Gen Xers. Just as Buffett became synonymous with a laid-back, margarita-sipping lifestyle, Frasco is emerging as a symbol of a new kind of escapism—one that resonates deeply with a younger generation. It’s a vibe that’s less about tropical beaches and more about the freedom to be oneself, to break the rules, and to find joy in the chaos of life.

Buffett’s music has always offered an escape, a mental vacation to “Margaritaville” where the worries of the world fade away. Frasco’s music offers a similar kind of refuge, but it’s updated for a generation that’s less about sipping cocktails on the beach and more about finding moments of liberation in the midst of life’s complexities. His songs are anthems for those who seek to live life on their own terms, to find happiness in the here and now, even if the here and now is messy, complicated, or downright challenging.

Moreover, just as Buffett’s concerts are more than just musical events—they’re communal celebrations of a shared lifestyle—so too are Frasco’s shows. They’re gatherings of like-minded souls, places where fans can let loose, dance like no one’s watching, and embrace the joy of the moment. And like Buffett, Frasco has a knack for making everyone in the audience feel like part of a larger community, a tribe of free spirits united by a common ethos.

But perhaps the most striking parallel between the two is their ability to bridge generational gaps. Buffett’s appeal has always transcended age; his concerts draw fans from all walks of life, from grizzled Parrotheads who’ve been following him for decades to college kids discovering his music for the first time. Frasco seems to be achieving a similar kind of cross-generational resonance. His music speaks to the Millennial experience, but its themes are universal enough to resonate with older fans as well. And his live shows are a testament to this broad appeal, drawing a diverse crowd that spans multiple age groups.

A band is in the midst of a performance on a stage, under the glow of colorful lights. The members are engaged with various instruments - guitars, drums, saxophones, and keyboards, creating a symphony of sound. The stage is further enhanced by a large screen in the background. In the foreground, a crowd is visible, their presence adding to the energy of the scene. They seem to be thoroughly enjoying the performance. The band members, casually dressed and some sporting colorful hair, add a vibrant touch to the scene.
Derrick Philips

In a world that often feels increasingly fragmented, artists like Frasco—and Buffett before him—offer something invaluable: a sense of unity, a reminder that despite our differences, we all share the same basic desires for freedom, joy, and a life well-lived. And in capturing the spirit of a new generation, Andy Frasco is proving that the spirit of “Margaritaville” is alive and well—it’s just found a new home. Simply replace the margarita with a joint.

As the night neared its end, Andy Frasco & The U.N. pulled out some of their most iconic tunes, much to the delight of the crowd. “Dancing on My Grave,” a song co-written with SUSTO, is about a macabre subject (Andy imagining his own funeral), but the lyrics are literally a celebration of his life. It was a moment that seemed to encapsulate the band’s ethos—living in the moment and embracing life’s ups and downs. Then came “Smoking Dope and Rock and Roll,” one of Frasco’s more popular songs that had nearly everyone in the venue singing along. The song, a staple in their repertoire, was a high-energy anthem that perfectly captured the band’s irreverent spirit. It was clear that these songs, deeply ingrained in the band’s identity, were also etched in the hearts of their fans.

This night at The Canopy Club, it was evident that an Andy Frasco & The U.N. show is more than just a collection of songs; it’s a communal experience that leaves you feeling connected and uplifted. Their unique blend of funk, jazz, and boundless energy has made them a must-see act in the festival scene. In a time when many of us feel increasingly isolated, the band offers a refreshing sense of community and a reminder of the simple joy that comes from sharing a great live music experience.

A rock band is in the throes of a performance on a stage, bathed in the ethereal glow of purple and blue lights. The lead singer, microphone in hand, has climbed atop a keyboard, pouring their soul into the song. The other band members are engrossed in their instruments - guitars, drums, creating a symphony that reverberates through the venue. The crowd, a sea of people in the foreground, mirrors the energy on stage, their hands raised in unison, swaying to the rhythm of the music.
Derrick Philips

Music Editor

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