Punch Brothers bring creative energy to Florence

The Punch Brothers’ new album, “Ahoy!” is set to release Nov. 13.

Before Oct. 19, Shoals audiences had likely never heard a cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A” segue into a bluegrass jam, but that is just what happened when world-renowned musical group Punch Brothers brought their creative musical energy to the Shoals Theatre stage.

Punch Brothers is a progressive bluegrass group most well known for their single “Dark Days,” which appeared on the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games.” While their roots lie in traditional bluegrass style, the music that comes from this quirky five-member band of non-blood brothers is something far less cut-and-dry, passing into the realms of rock, jazz, even classical.

The event was made possible by OnStage, an organization committed to enhancing the Shoals area with quality cultural entertainment. Punch Brothers — called “true gentlemen” by Van Morgan, president of OnStage — was one of at least four performances that On Stage hosts each season.

Billy Reid, a locally-rooted fashion designer, introduced the band. Reid is a personal friend of the band, and that friendship, Morgan said, made the show possible.

The band played a wide selection of songs, including several from their most recent album “Who’s Feeling Young Now?” and from previous albums “Punch” and “Antifogmatic.”

The comfortably-seated, tranquil atmosphere of the Shoals Theater certainly brought out a subdued side of the band, but the audience remained attentive and impressed.

The theater was packed with first-time listeners and dedicated fans alike.

“Phenomenally unpredictable” is how Kaleigh Warwick, a student at Samford University, described the entertainment. She thought the show was well worth the two-hour drive from Birmingham.

UNA sophomore Alyson Berry was disappointed with the lack of publicity the show received in advance.

“I wish word had gotten out to more of their younger fan base,” she said. “I feel like many in the audience were pass holders.”

UNA student Phillip Blevins was already a Punch Brothers fan, and he called the show “perfection.”

“Their flow from song to song was perfect, and not a note was sung or played out of pitch,” he said.

Others agreed.

“If not the best concert I’ve been to, (it was) definitely in the top three,” said UNA junior Michael Thaxton. “Not just that: as performers, they were funny.”

“What sold me was the fact that they were just as good, if not better, live than they were recorded,” Berry said. “It was raw and artistic. I liked them before, but now I’m a fan.”

Punch Brothers finished the show with a three-song, unplugged encore, including a rendition of traditional Irish folk song “Moonshiner,” which will appear on their upcoming five-song EP “Ahoy!” set to release Nov. 13.