Out of all the venues in the Boise area, the Visual Arts Collective out in Garden City perplexes me most. They've set up some fantastic shows over the past couple of years, but hardly anybody besides me attended some of them.
Take last Saturday's show, for instance--three solid bands (well, more like two bands and one really good joke) and only a $5 cover. How many people showed up? About twenty, a chunk of whom didn't stay for the whole show. I don't know. Maybe everybody was burnt out from Treefort. Maybe nobody wanted to take the trek out to Garden City. The latter would be understandable, admittedly. For those readers who may not have had the pleasure of going out there, you can simulate the experience in your own home. First, start playing the banjo-and-guitar theme from Deliverance. After that, play a recording of a police siren at the same time. Finally, just sprinkle a bit of your controlled substance of choice around. Methamphetamines and ultra-cheap beer are always popular choices.
Anyway, main point: I really dig the place. I hope that it and the folks who get booked there get a little more love.
First up on Saturday night was Godcrotch a.k.a. local musician/stand-up comedian/Boise Weekly "New Media Czar" Josh Gross. You haven't lived until you've heard him bust out some 70's/80's hard rock on his amplified ukulele--Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law" is an audience favorite, and I'm pretty sure I heard him do "Anarchy in the U.K." once. This night, he started off with Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love," and he followed that up with original material just as funny. In all seriousness, though, the guy's a damn good musician (click here to see a clip of him playing drums in the excellent local band the North End Snugglers, now sadly on hiatus while their guitar player does a stint with the National Guard). In addition to his ukulele, Gross employed electric guitar, drum synthesizers (which seemed to have some issues), loops, a second guitar player and my buddy Keesha Renna on harmony vocals, tamborine and maraca.
After Godcrotch came Death Songs a.k.a. Nicholas Delffs from the apparently defunct Portland, OR band the Shaky Hands. I didn't get to see him play at Treefort, so I was glad to catch him here.
"I usually have a band with me," Delffs said at one point in his set. "This is kinda weird." From what I heard, he did fine all by himself. The word "timeless" gets thrown around a lot, but Death Songs' music genuinely invites that description. Armed with a kick drum, a keyboard, a guitar, a good sense of rhythm, a spooky falsetto and a honey drawl laced with a hint of nasality, Delffs played steady-rolling art-songs that, at times, seemed possessed by the ghost of Skip James. According to the Treefort website, Delffs has relocated from Portland to Boise. Hopefully, this means that I'll get to see Death Songs again soon.
Last up for the night was Point Juncture, WA, a five-person band that actually hails from Portland. After seeing this group and bands like Pickwick and Hot Bodies in Motion, I have to wonder: when did the Pacific Northwest get so darn funky? Amanda Springs' cool, breathy singing reminded me a little of Kim Gordon (but with better pipes and pitch), but she drummed so on-the-one that she could've auditioned for Curtis Mayfield. Add on some driving bass, some jazzy vibraphone and trumpet, some moody keyboards and some Sonic Youth guitar mayhem, and you've got a band playing at the VAC that made me wonder yet again: "Why are there so few people here to see/hear this!?"
You can find info on Death Songs and Point Juncture, WA on Facebook and on the website listed. And for the love of God, people: if you're in the Boise area, stop by the VAC sometime.