Review and Photos by Sam Martucci
I made my way through the crowd in the basement lounge of the The Delancey and slid to the front of the stage just as sound check started. As a mostly rock/punk/metal photographer, I knew this would be different than any show Ive photographed. Friends, family, and fans gathered for Gabriella Bavaro's birthday show. Gabriella is a classically trained vocalist, actress, model and student at NYU. If that wasn’t enough, she also a domestic abuse speaker, mental health advocate and #1 hypeman. Now, I have a slight bias as Ive been working with Gabriella for the past year as a model, but this was the first time I’d see her and her band perform.
Gabriella (G.E.M.) has curated an impressive group of musicians, each with many notable accomplishments of their own. G.E.M. was joined on stage by the vocal and rap stylings of KJ Burkhauser and Tony Enderica, Joe Asprea on guitar, Noah Rosner on bass, percussion by Sean Millman, RJ Christian on saxophone, Kate Amrine on trumpet, and Brede Baldwin on keys. Together they make G.E.M. and The Stones -which is a pun I can get behind. When I asked Gabriella about G.E.M. and The Stones she states; “What defines myself and my bandmates is truly the wide range of diversity and interplay within genres that we integrate to our music. Songs range from original work and covers that span the musical stylings of Beyoncé to the eerie rock feel of Evanescence and the electronic work of Frank Zappa, as well as some classical opera vocals thrown into the mix.”
With the stage filled to the brim with talent, they started out the night with energetic and soulful covers like “Crazy in Love” and “Proud Mary”. It got the crowd grooving to the jazzy rendition and the later fit perfectly in the dark NYC basement lounge. The whole night defied genre as G.E.M then guided us through some unmistakably original songs – highlighted by an operatic electronic piece “Ice” (off a coming EP “inferno” that takes inspiration from Dante's Inferno and Gabriella’s own experience with depression). They also played “Light in My Veins” which is dedicated to her boyfriend (who I swear I could feel blush from across the room) and an emotive solo “Better/No Regrets”. They closed out the set with a cover of “I Wish”, “Bang Bang” and a classic birthday tribute leaving everyone buzzing. This was definitely a set to be felt. Instead of leaving a show fully marinated in the main vibe of the band, this performance gave you a roller coaster of emotions similar to a full musical in one 45min set.
As the show ended you could feel the love pour out from friends and new fans. More people discovering truly what a gem this girl really is (see what I did there?) and others appreciating how seamlessly this band played together. Now, seriously, this group is filled with multifaceted star performers and producers in their own right and I would not miss a chance to see them again. As the crowd dispersed, I leveled out my emotions and found what's probably the cheapest IPA this side of the Hudson. The birthday girl and I went back to our roots together for some portraits and finished with the closing line on their set list “End show and go drink”. Happy Birthday Gabriella!