music // Storming the Barn : Ra Ra Riot, Givers + Pepper Rabbit : Gundlach Bundschu : 2011.01.27

So, here’s the question: what good is a 125-something-year-old tractor barn if you can’t clear it out once in a while, bring in a wildly popular East Coast art pop band and throw a boot-stomping, jaw-dropping, twinkly-lit, Gewurz-fueled, utterly sold-out show that surely must have blown at least a few historic rafters somewhere off into the eucalyptus trees of sleepy Lovall Valley?

The answer to this question apparently ran through Jeff Bundschu’s head one day, as he stood contemplating the mechanical entrails of a nondescript rustic storage facility on the grounds his family’s esteemed 150-year-old winery. What happened in the weeks leading up to the show (and we take it there was much hauling and rearranging and gutting and maybe even some curse words) isn’t so consequential as what happened that night—which was, by and large, magic.

The barn emerged from its makeover as pitch-perfect backdrop, its wood grain glowing under the necklaces of string lights, its girly calendars and power tools left for the sake of, well, some authentic cred. Good wines warmed the brisk January night and elevated the collective mood of crowd that numbered in the hundreds.

We were completely mesmerized by the electric energy all three bands—Ra Ra Riot, Givers and Pepper Rabbit. Their intimate, charged performances seemed to derive, in part, from the beguiling venue and the downright “friendly” crowd. Who knew, as Ra Ra Riot’s producer/sound guy later blogged, that Wine Country could put on such an essential show?

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