Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tacocat Takes Santa Barbara

TACOCAT
REGRETTES
HAYLEY AND THE CRUSHERS
VELVET JONES, SANTA BARBARA
16 JULY, 2016
Tacocat brought their West Coast jaunt to the joint known as Velvet Jones in Downtown Santa Barbara. The zaniness of a Saturday night played perfectly into their hands, and the invasion of a wedding party late in the set only added to the flavor. Breaking out a feather boa led to a running Steven Tyler gag throughout. Songs from the band's latest effort, Lost Time, rightfully dominated the set, with "I Hate The Weekend", "Dana Katherine Scully", and "I Love Seattle" leading the charge, while they also reached back for already classics such as "Hey Girl", "Crimson Wave", and "Psychadelic Quincinera". While touring has honed their tightness, it hasn't been at the expense of their sense of fun. 

Both support acts made an indelible impression. Hayley and the Crushers (from San Luis Obispo) set the pace with a lively set that featured a grinding version of the Go-Go's "This Town" as a most welcome surprise, while LA's Regrettes totally took over with a commanding stint that, for all its energy, hit another level when they dialed it back for "Pale Skin", making an emotional connection with the audience.
A satisfying night all the way through, and a special tip of the hat is due to the Velvet for having an all ages show on a prime night.

Tacocat

The Regrettes

Hayley and the Crushers

Monday, June 6, 2016

Living The Good Life

THE GOOD LIFE
SPEEDY ORTIZ
LA SERA
LARGE MARGE, VENTURA, CA
04 JUNE, 2016
After a quick save dampening the vocal mic with a t-shirt to avoid random jolts from our friend electricity, La Sera opened up the night with a sharp and sassy set that did not hit the brakes, accounting for a fair chunk of their newest release, "Music For Listening To Music To", including a sparkling "High Notes" and  guitarist Todd Wisenbaker stepping up for "I Need An Angel". And it turns out that Todd is originally from Ventura! A tight cover of "Whole Lotta Love" paved the way for the high point of the set, a savage take on "Losing To The Dark". La Sera finished off with the title track of their previous, "Hour Of The Dawn", and the jam at the coda showed just how far this former bedroom project has come.

Ironically, at roughly the same time, Jaime Hernandez, the artist who created the character Speedy Ortiz,  was being honored in Pasadena with a Life Achievement Award, the band from Amherst, Mass that shares the same name was kicking off their set with a rough and ready version of "The Graduates", from last year's "Foil Deer" LP. With a brand new EP, "Foiled Again", out on Carpark Records, there was new grist for the mill since we caught up with them in Santa Cruz last year. Having both "My Dead Girl" and "Mr. Difficult" in that set made it almost too overwhelming, and their absence from the set list focused the vibe. "Dvrk Wvrld" and "Tiger Trap" were high notes for a continually evolving band. "Raising The Skate" and "Puffer" were crowd pleasers, while "Dot X" and "American Horror" upheld the emotional intensity. Half the fun of a Speedy gig is trying to balance the cacophony of words against the music, then within that, the interplay of the guitarists versus the elasticity of the most excellent rhythm section, whom I've blabbed about before, but my respect continues to deepen every time I see them. It's not unlike watching a high level tennis match, and it's easy to be thoroughly wrung out after their set.

Finally caught up with The Good Life, yet another side of Tim Kasher (Cursive). Their new album is due out this August on Saddle Creek, and this was the perfect preview. He was as engaging as always, and the new material struck a chord, and unveiled yet another catalogue of music ripe for exploration. All told, it was a fitting conclusion to an exceptional evening.

A quick word is in order for the fabulous venue, an anonymous structure tucked away on Garden St. In downtown Ventura. Behind the gates, Large Marge is revealed as a labor of love, set up to carefully accommodate a nice merch space, as well as a lounging area for guests, couches inside for that homey touch, and the crowning glory: Phyllis Diller's actual kitchen?! Believe it. Final programming note: I've seen the first two bands nearly ten times combined, and never have either sounded better. The sound person was working her butt off, and the effort and end result was appreciated.