Well, that was certainly fun. Last night, Nervo and I did our first local show in support of “The Exited Door” – we played a set of acoustic tunes at Ronnie Cato’s Red Vic Sessions in the Haight, and damn, it was fun! I’m not sure I’m prepared for how much of a blast it’s going to be to perform this material for people – it was super, super good times.
Ronnie’s nights at Red Vic Sessions are really cool – he’s been doing it for a few years now, and we’ll definitely be back! There’s a really low-key, listening-room vibe to the whole thing, which is great (particularly for all the miked looping – nothing worse than getting some drunken bargoer whooping in the middle of your loop every time), and, well, it’s ten minutes from my house.
The night featured quite a few acts, starting out with Brenda Xu and Marie Haddad, two singer/songwriters on tour from San Diego. Brenda opened, playing some nice, minimalist tunes on guitar while accompanied by Ben Kent on the Cajon. I love that instrument so much – Maria Schneider uses one on the tune “Journey Home” from her album Allegresse, and it’s just the warmest, grooviest sound. Ben used his as a sort of all-in-one drumming solution, and it really added to the tunes. Brenda had a really great vibe on stage, and was a pleasure to watch – her vocals (and melodies) had just a touch of Aimee Mann, which is never, ever a bad thing. I also enjoyed Marie’s music – dramatic, Tori-inflected piano music with lots of rolling chords, and Marie’s really strong vocals.
After they finished, Keith Sheppard played some tunes, and also sounded quite good – he played some really groovy guitar parts, which I enjoyed. He’s got a band called Sheppard’s Crook, which I could totally see. After that, Sandra B played, and dude – she is a true original. For real – check her out. Meandering, indulgent tunes (I mean that in the best way), dramatic, highly effective use of dynamics, and a voice that’ll knock your socks off. She really made an impression, man – it was totally cool. Totally weird. I seriously enjoyed it.
The Attracted were after that, and brough in a full band setup (albeit with a micro drum-kit), and rocked through some really funny songs. Jesse Dyen leads the band – he sounds a bit like Elvis Costello, and writes meta-rock songs (that is, songs about having a band, and touring, and getting sick of each other, and breaking up). Cool stuff. Mike Chase was the last act before us, and put on a strange, funny show that was part cabaret, part original songwriting – at one point he sat at a toy piano and belted his way through a couple of covers (Monkees, maybe?). He wouldn’t be out of place at a Cock-Ts show at Annie’s, maybe alongside, like, Lamb and Uni and her Ukulele. Always nice to stir some Myspace jokes into our angsty songs, I always say.
Then Nervo and I played. Our set included the same tunes we did a couple weeks back at the SF 48-Hour Film Festival Showcase, with a few notable additions. One tune, called “The Darkened Street,” was a very acoustic-y tune about dying. Like, it would fit in the genre acoustic music? I wrote it a long time ago, when I was going through the phase that most songwriters go through when they decide that writing a song about how fun and wonderful death probably is would be really deep. It was also right after I discovered the I | III7 |vi | IV progression, and man, I milked the crap out of it. Anyway, it was the first time I’d ever performed the tune, and it went well.
All of the looping also went off without a hitch – The Armelodica(TM) made another appearance, and I’m getting pretty used to having it attached to my arm. Happy Pants danced happily around, coaxing the shy sweatshirts out onto the floor. In addition to using it for a lot of the looped orchestration for Exited Door tunes, Nervo and I had a solo battle over a vamp in “Shoshana” that was pretty damn fun/hilarious. At least for us. I’m not sure how much everyone in the audience liked watching me blast air through a hose while sloppily hittling little plastic keys, but they at least seemed to think it was funny.
Massive thanks to everyone who came out – it was great to see so many new faces in the audience, as well as some familiar ones from shows past! I hope you all had as much fun listening as we had playing. Also, thanks to Jason Blair for keeping things running smoothly, managing the sound, and generally for being a cool guy.
And as much fun as last night was, we’re only going to be ramping things up from here on out – Nervo and I will be taking our duo show around the Bay Area while in SF starting June 20th at BrainWash Cafe, I’ll be adding Lindsay, Dan, and some other instrumentalists to the acoustic group. With the extra musicians, we’ll be able do to even more tunes off of the record, all in preparation for our first plugged-in, full-band show at the Rickshaw Stop in September. In other words: Exciting times await.
Have a great Saturday, thanks for reading!