If the television show M*A*S*H had a party hall on its military post, The Hangar on the Hudson would receive star ranking.
Sure, sitting quietly, minding its own business at 675 River Street in Troy, NY, the exterior is a squat, darkly painted, unassuming building that used to house a former prosthetic limb manufacturer, with its insides being your typical masquerade of dropped ceilings, carpeting, and fluorescent lights. But haven’t ya heard? Office chic is OUT, funky music halls are IN, and The Hangar’s one where even General McArthur could boogie and throw back a cold one.
The space does, in fact, feel like mini airplane hanger on the inside, with corrugated steel walls blending into an arching ceiling and other elements one might find in a South Pacific aviation outpost, but with a bar constructed out of driftwood salvaged from the Hudson River, and cozy lighting juxtaposed against industrial-sized pulley systems, gears, and rope, the space isn’t nearly as cavernous as many other “standing room only,” venues in the area. There’s literally not a bad spot in the house. And the entire place was set to blast off the other night when I was there for the SOLD OUT JD McPherson show!
Last week, JD McPherson released his third album, “Undivided Heart and Soul,” so he’s now out touring in support of it, and on November 8, he played the Collar City for the fourth straight year. In 2014, McPherson was at the Ale House, but in subsequent years he’s let the good times roll across the street to The Hangar on the Hudson. Last year, McPherson sold out back-to-back nights at The Hangar (I was there!), and it’s one of his favorite venues to play.
“We’ll play there any time they’ll have us,” McPherson enthused. “It’s not the biggest place, but it’s warm and the shows are a lot of fun. Plus, the wings across the street at the Ale House are so good!” (true dat, JD! The man can jam like a rockabilly king and knows a good wing when he sees one? I might be “Head Over Heels” for this guy!)
JD’s entire sound and image is just so vintage and edgy, I love it. It sounds just like 1957. Literally. I remember the first time I heard Northside Gal on the radio, I had to double check the FM dial because I thought I had wandered to an oldies station, but no, I was still tuned in on 102.7. So shoutout to EQX for the psych out – well played, and bless their little music-loving hearts for playing that track and introducing me to the amazing musician that is JD McPherson.
In my defense, I should note that the reason JD has a kind of gritty, vintage sound is because he records on analog equipment through a vintage microphone and a 1960s Berlin 1/4 inch tape machine. I’m not a sound engineer, but I have a feeling that’s pretty old school compared to today’s electronic evolution, and I dig it.
“I’m not bragging when I say that we’ve built our reputation on our live show,” McPherson said. “We put everything we can into it and we take a lot of pride in it. So it’s very high energy.”
Even Troy-native/legend/singer-songwriter Sean Rowe corroborated JD’s claim to his live show energy by writing this caption with a post of the two buds on Instagram, “Fun times with @jdmcphersonpix from @hangaronthehudson last night. Still hands down my favorite live band and the new record is KILLER <3 <3 <3”
An endorsement from Sean Rowe? It doesn’t get any better than that, you guys. I am doing my best not to fangirl over this bromance right now. And I knew I saw Sean Rowe at the show! My friends tried to tell me it was his Troy doppelgänger – joke’s on them!
So, this post is really a twofer: an opportunity to shine a bit of the spotlight on what very well may be one of the Capital Region’s best kept secrets when it comes to live music venues, and to ensure JD McPherson, modern-day rockabilly badass and honorary Ale House wingman, is on your musical radar.
When I told the crew at The Hanger my theory on the venue being a best kept secret, they replied, “Let more people in on that secret. We’ve got some room!” Sounds to me like you’ve got your marching orders, peeps.
Two Buttons Deep is a news & entertainment website based in upstate New York.
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