I felt a little guilty about going to see this show. I'd spoken with Josh Gross a week or so before and told him that I'd planned on seeing Godcrotch play the Red Room this same night. And that had been true, but then I saw that my friend Keesha Renna's Vagabond Promotions had set up a show at Grainey's Basement featuring three bands I hadn't seen before. Sorry, man. See you another time for sure.
This looked like a promising bill: three local bands, two of which I hadn't seen before, and an excellent folk(ish) rock group from Utah. A decent crowd had built up by the time that the first band took the stage, and it only grew as the evening progressed. That made me happy for the bands and especially for Keesha: for as long as I've known her, she's been an enthusiastic supporter not just of the local music scene but of the Boise community as a whole. Her hard work and dedication seems to be paying off, and deservedly so. From what she's told me, Vagabond Promotions has some good shows set up in the upcoming months. I expect that you'll be reading about a few of them here.
First up this night was Uintahs, a moody, tuneful four-man rock band based here in Boise. If Coldplay or Echo and the Bunnymen decided to man up and not be such wimpy navel-gazers, they might sound a little like these guys: Patricio Torres' steadfast basslines and Malcolm Youngberg's rumbling, propulsive drumming cut through the layers of sparkling mist conjured up by Marcus Youngberg and Perry Bentley's guitars and keyboard. That combination would have been beguiling enough, but what made it really take off was Marcus Youngberg's strong, aching, forthright tenor. "We are Uintahs," Youngberg said at one point. "Goddamn, you aren't gonna remember it, so don't even try." I wouldn't be so sure of that.
Next up after Uintahs was local alt-rock band The Green Zoo. This group clearly had talent to spare: their melodies and harmonies stuck to my ears, they stopped and started on a dime, their dirges were no less impressive than their rave-ups and leader Thomas Newby has got a helluva set of pipes on him. In spite of all this, however, I just couldn't get into their music all the way. The whole enterprise felt tainted by an adolescent, melodramatic self-absorption. This came through most strongly in their lyrics' nostalgic idealization of childhood's simplicity and comfort. Lines like "In the darkness, my nostrils flare" and "Sunlight taps at my window like a lost lover trying to wake me" just made matters worse. I should probably note, however, that my fellow audience members seemed to like this group just fine. Guess some folks have a higher tolerance for melodramatic self-absorption than I do.
After The Green Zoo came The Mighty Sequoyah, whose straight-ahead folk- and pop-tinged rock served as a tonic after the previous group's emo archness. You could possibly think of this five-person group from Provo, Utah as the Beatles or the Byrds up top (twangy guitar jangle, ringing keyboard, yearning fiddle, angelic four-part harmonies) and the Rolling Stones or Cream down below (solid, unflashy bass and kinetic drumming). At the head of it all rode lead singer Caleb Darger, whose clean, rousing high tenor suited the rootsy melodies perfectly. This mixture proved irresistible to the crowd, who danced and cheered throughout the entire set. A single picture doesn't do justice to the infectious good vibe of those thirty minutes, but thankfully, Keesha managed to record some of The Mighty Sequoyah's performance on her phone. Hopefully, she'll post a clip of it online sometime soon.
I drifted over to the Red Room after The Mighty Sequoyah and consequently missed the closing set by Parade of Bad Guys. Considering the previous performance of theirs that I caught, I don't imagine that it could've gone too badly. Their fun-times roots-rock seems like just the thing to have kept the party going.
You can find info about all of these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online. Also, for any bands interested in booking shows around Boise, you can look up Vagabond Promotions on Facebook, email Whatvagabond@hotmail.com or call 1 208-283-0259.