Last Friday night, Northern California-based Hot Buttered Rum played a spirited set of newgrass songs to a group of equally vivacious fans at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. The quintet wasted no time in their hour-long set, kicking off their show at 10 p.m. with fast-paced and lively bluegrass tunes complete with rambunctious fiddle solos. The band’s instrumentation isn’t typical of Santa Barbara–rather than the traditional bass/guitar/drums/vocals lineup well-known to the area, Hot Buttered Rum brought along a fiddle, an upright bass, a banjo, an acoustic guitar, and drums to accompany their three-man harmonies. And how can you possibly stand still when there’s a man onstage shredding on a fiddle? You can’t.
By the third song, most of the crowd was dancing playfully together in a large group near the front of the stage. Others were clapping their hands and stomping their boots to the beat. While many of the concert-goers wore boots specifically for this reason, others of us danced carelessly in flip flops and sneakers. It’s impossible to say whether the band’s effervescent enthusiasm was fueled by the crowd’s energy or vice-versa, as the relationship between the two seemed symbiotic as the night wore on.
Hot Buttered Rum’s set consisted mostly of original works, many of which the audience wasn’t familiar with, but was delighted to hear nonetheless. The band also performed a boisterous bluegrass rendition of “Polythene Pam” and “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” by The Beatles. Halfway through the night the band announced that they would be releasing three EPs in the next year, each with a unique stylistic focus. Next time Hot Buttered Rum rides through Santa Barbara, they may have an entirely different sound, but no matter what they have in store for their future music, this band promises to bring the energy and merrymaking that their name implies.