The deck chairs were arranged in neat rows under the warm glow of holiday lights around the Linen Building's stage, much to the chagrin of the performers at the Broken Resolutions Ball Jan. 12.
Acoustic singer-songwriter Mike Quinn observed mid-opening set that he's used to playing bars—and not used to people sitting in chairs and paying rapt attention to what's happening on stage. It was an observation that would be repeated regularly during the evening, and a phenomenon that gave the event the feeling of being an unplugged concert, rather than a "ball."
But it's not that people shouldn't have been paying attention: Quinn's smooth, sentimental melodies recalled the fading golden sunshine of a late-summer evening. Though his upper-range voice sometimes slipped into adjacent flat notes, Quinn's playing earned the ears of ball-goers with his elaborate acoustic melodies and beach-ready stage presence.
Of particular note was his instrumental performance. Guitar lying flat on his lap, Quinn launched into a dazzling fingerpicking solo, playing his six-stringed axe like a keyboard, all the while patting and knocking its face for an earthy percussion effect.
With even greater polish—but a bit less tempo—was the evening's featured act, Interstate. Despite experimenting with a medley of genres and styles (accentuated by alternating upright and electric bassists), there was decidedly nothing experimental about Interstate.
The performance was clear, engineered and perfect, but the band's flirtations with pop and folk (and Jason Mraz) seemed to straddle the line between genres, the music sliding into a beige, undanceable orchestration, with the exception of when Brianne Gray joined the band for a duet. When a few couples did decide to dance, it was to Interstate's slow covers—which comprised much of its second set—and not to the band's original songs.
Gray's performance was soulful and clean, her voice a refreshing combination of force, precision and personality. Whether performing solo or with Interstate, her vocals rolled and soared.
In the midst of Quinn's California cool, Interstate's clockwork orchestrations and Gray's heartfelt vocals was Poppa Joe, a cause celebre for the song "Summertime in Boise." Joe played a deliciously out-of-place hip-hop set, giving quick props to his fellow performers and launching into his easygoing but amped catalog.
The evening tied up with the Boise hip-hopper and producer's smooth bow. The Broken Resolutions Ball dimmed just in time for a new day—and a fresh shot at making good on those promises the audience made Jan. 1.