CATALYST, SANTA CRUZ, CA
23 MAY, 2015
Touching down in Santa Cruz as the gateway to the northern California leg of their current tour business, Speedy Ortiz brought the goods to the Catalyst. Also booked that night for the venue's big room was UK reggae vets Steel Pulse, making for a fascinating mix of crowd outside the hall. Ever since our first taste of Speedy Ortiz, last year at Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown, we've been awaiting their return out west. Working primarily from their latest release, Foil Deer, the band hit the stage with a vengeance, heralded by Petey Pablo, turning the new songs inside out, and the main question was, with this being their most produced/intricate LP...how would the 'difficult' songs translate live? The mid-set combination of "The Graduates" into "My Dead Girl" answered handily, proving the emotional high point of the night. Other highlights included an airing of "Bigger Party", a song cut for last year's Adult Swim singles program, and a welcome addition to any set.
Quality was the evening's watchword, and extended all the way down the line, with both opening acts more than measuring up to the challenge. Tancred is the solo project of Now Now's Jess Abbott, and she seems to have found her comfort zone, spinning off songs from the self titled LP, as well as previewing tunes from a forthcoming album that they just wrapped recording on. Working with Anna Waronker and Redd Kross/Off's Steven McDonald, we look forward to the finished product. There's video below to get a taste of the band. Reminiscent of the 90's Fort Apache scene in Boston, with echoes of Juliana Hatfield and Throwing Muses/Belly, Tancred is a name to make a note of.
Philadelphia's Alex G (Giannascolit) hit the stage with a full band, the Temple U. student transforming bedroom indie songs into vibrant workouts, crossing the pull/release tension of classic live Television with a Malkmus-ian songwriting bent to deliver the goods. Stuck in the unforgiving middle slot, the band seemed intent on punching their way out. Since picking up the latest release, the oddly compelling DSU, it has rarely left my turntable, and like Mitski's Bury Me At Makeout Creek, will probably be one of my favorite left-field releases come the end of the year. Due to technical snags, the video from their set met a cruel fate, but we'll drop in a song to give you a taste.