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Alternative Orchestral, At Large

Petoskey, a nine-piece chamber folk band out of Portland, is on the up and up, fresh off performances at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. 

“It’s been a hilarious and cantankerous tour so far, full of mishaps and good things,” says Angie Kuzma, a founding member who plays guitar, violin and sings in the group. 

Among other hap-hazardous adventures, the band recently survived a sand storm on the way from Austin to Tucson, which lead to a night of drinking and an impromptu performance at a hole-in-the-wall bar somewhere in New Mexico. They are still at large, and heading north.

Top-notch musicians with an addiction to composing thickly layered multi-instrumental soundscapes, Petoskey is Kuzma’s attempt to create an alternative symphony. “All nine of us have a strong appreciation for meticulous (musical) arrangement,” she says. “I grew up playing in big orchestras and that’s the sound we’re trying to recreate.”

Ghostly, trance-like and at times a little twangy, the band’s 2011 debut Bombs Away is a standout freshman album. You can hear influences from all over, which is to be expected from such a large and diverse collection of musicians — everything from Merle Haggard, to Bill Callahan, to Beach House — and Kuzma’s vocals possess a haunting resonance. Petoskey’s live show is homegrown and warm, perfect for a cold night in cozy bar. If you love neo folk, chamber orchestra pop or simply appreciate full-sounding bands with classically trained players, you don’t want to pass up this show. 

Petoskey plays 9 pm Thursday, March 29, at Sam Bond’s; $1-$5.