February 25, 2011

Young the Giant @ Velvet Jones ~ February 24, 2011

On the radar.

Hipster bands always have the best looking crowd. Where did these young people come from? Where do they hide in Santa Barbara when the cool bands aren't playing at Velvet Jones? Curious.

But that is neither here nor there. The point is that a good size (and looking) crowd made it out to see Young The Giant, a talented young indie band from Irvine. Using light island-like guitar riffs, an upbeat tempo, and a crooner singing style, Young The Giant blended many genres to create a new sound. The five piece band created romantic, danceable, poignant noise with alluring melodies and catchy hooks. The lead singer alternated between two mics during the live performance - one was basic, the other was an old school crooner microphone (an actual type - I googled it). It looked effortless and easy, as did the talent exuded by the other band members. Unfortunately it was a very short set, only thirty minutes. But they do only have the one album, and it was a school night for most of the audience anyways.

Definitely a band to keep on the radar.

February 19, 2011

Old Man Markley @ Whiskey Richards ~ Feb. 18, 2011

"How are they all going to fit on that tiny little stage?" This was my main concern when walking in to Whiskey Richards tonight awaiting the performance of Old Man Markley, an eight piece bluegrass punk rock band from the San Fernando Valley (of course).

To set the picture, Whiskey Richards' stage is set in a back corner off a "corridor" that holds the bar. It is triangular shaped and small (I'd guess at the dimensions, but I am really bad at it). The eight piece band consists of guitar, bass, drums, autoharp, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and washboard. Yes, washboard. And to be make the picture really clear, the bass is a stand up bass guitar set in a metal tub with a plunger as a stand. There were three mic stands for five vocalist, including the lead, Johnny Carey, and cords everywhere! That said, I've seen Old Man Markley before on a much larger stage and they owned every corner of it - so this was going to be a very tight squeeze indeed.

But once Old Man Markley started playing, that concern quickly faded. They jumped right in with "Party Shack" setting the audience into a stomping frenzy for the next hour. The music was upbeat and high energy, reminiscent of a punk rock hoedown, complete with mandolin, fiddle, and washboard solos. Yes, washboard. OMM's high energy never faded as they smoothly maneuvered around each other and the cords, and encouraged the crowd to let loose.

Old Man Markely's performance was tight and well orchestrated - they easily could have fit three more players on that stage.

February 10, 2011

The Silent Comedy with Verna Beware @ Muddy Waters ~ Feb. 9, 2011

Can I get a witness? Amen! Tonight's show at Muddy Water's was a true journey from sinner to saint that brought down the church walls.

Locals Verna Beware opened the show with their hard psychedelic rock and provocative ways. Imagine for a moment that The Doors and Led Zeppelin mated (sexy) and had an offspring in the year 2011 - that offspring would be Verna Beware. Lead by frontman Kyran Mill with an impressively powerful vocal range and stamina, VB takes you through a masterful series of epic songs that draw you out of your body while keeping you confined in your head, or is it vice versa (I said it was psychedelic - for me anyway). The songs were long and purposeful and executed with seductive artistry.

Then came salvation. The Silent Comedy brought in the ministry hard. Looking very vaudeville with black suits, short hats, and long mustaches, the band of five played energetic folk hard rock utilizing piano, harmonica, and banjo, complete with lyrics of church, amens, and hallelujahs. Each member took turn in the spot light and you could feel the camaraderie, especially during "Gasoline," dedicated to a member's grandfather who had just passed and sang with an emotional pitch. The music was so infused with life it moved you to groove. And they grooved right along with the crowd, ending by joining the us on the dance floor, on the dance stage, on the amp speaker, and on the bar to dance the last song with us at a feverish pace. Hallelujah.

February 4, 2011

The Forgetters @ Velvet Jones ~ Feb. 3, 2011

Walking in cold to a punk rock show can be a bit intimidating, but tonight's show was less punk and less rock than expected.

The Forgetters consists of Kevin Mahon, the original drummer from Against Me!, and Blake Schwarzenbach of Jawbreaker and Jets To Brazil fame. With these guys as 2 of the 3 piece band I expected a pretty heavy punk rock show. Not the case.

The songs were lyrically driven with a somewhat beatnik feel that incorporated generic riffs with the occasional heavy drum beat. The gaps between songs were filled with sound bites that were interesting at first but over done as the show waned on. There was a 3rd member of the band, a gal on bass, but she did not impress me and interacted quite awkwardly with the audience. In fact, the entire show was a bit awkward.

With lyrics like "I'm a straight-up ghost since you wrote me off" and "I’m not a toy or a hobby you can pick up, but I enjoy being in this body for now," I think I would have enjoyed the songs as a spoken word performance rather than an attempted punk rock show.

The Night Accelerates
I try to know you but I'm too late
Some guy told you how you're no good
So now you're gonna prove him right
We're all trauma all the time
And I ought to charge you by the hour
For all the time I think on you
I caught you platting my demise
I thought I ought to help you try

February 2, 2011

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals @ SOhO ~ Feb. 1, 2011

Damn. You want sexy? I'll give you sexy - in the form of the reformed Grace Potter.

Starting the set hard with some throwback sexy seventy styled rock, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals instantly mesmerized the crowd that had completely filled the dance floor. With a voice born for rock and roll, Grace encapsulated the sultry songstress she has become of late. And backed by a band that literally looked and played like they had been transported through time from the grips of a 70's power rock group, the audience was enraptured.

Trying to put words to Grace's performance tonight is like trying to explain sex to a virgin - nearly impossible. Using her raspy voice and vocal range, Grace reached a near orgasmic climax with her band in tow (actually happened). Grace was gracious with her introductions of the band throughout the set - as she should be, the band was a powerhouse of talent. They performed covers of Wilco and Jefferson Airplane in a mix of original jams which blended into a remix of Rhianna's "Milkshake" at one point, then went into a blues infused jam session. An eclectic mix that sounded like a natural rock 'n roll remedy, as Grace lamented, "..the medicine that everybody wants."

Definitely a band to keep on the radar.