Friday, July 20, 2012

The Soft White Sixties, Tropical Punk and Lakefriend @ Neurolux; The First Borns @ the Red Room (7/17/12)

As soon as I learned about this show, I put it down on my schedule.  I've been a fan of The Soft White Sixties since I saw their first show in Boise last December.  That was one wild time--people dancing, screaming, climbing onto the Red Room's stage, hopping around and slapping the band members' butts.  Then came the Sixties' Treefort set, by the end of which their lead singer, Octavio Genera, was literally swinging from the rafters before an ecstatic capacity crowd at, once again, the Red Room.  Considering the much higher ceiling at Neurolux, I doubted that Genera could pull off that stunt again--though if he did, that would really have been something--but no way was I gonna miss this San Francisco band's third go-round.

First up this evening was Caldwell-based group Lakefriend, who delivered a much stronger performance than they did at the Red Room last month.  Their sunny guitars, straight-ahead basslines and hyperkinetic drumming zoomed, swooped and soared as one.  Their predominantly instrumental music sounded far less dark and brooding than my beloved Red Hands Black Feet, and I considered that a good thing; as with a number of the other Caldwell bands that I've seen, they seemed to revel in the simple joy of being young and healthy.  The occasional rough patch in their playing only accentuated that feeling.

After Lakefriend came the Nashville-based garage-rock quartet Tropical Punk.  Their lead singer's sneering, Dylanesque sprechgesang started to wear thin as the set progressed, but their poppy tunes, humourously blunt lyrics, harsh guitars, grounding basslines and lean, mean drumming more than compensated.  Besides, if I'd wanted something gentle and sensitive, I'd have stayed at home and played my Nick Drake albums.

The Soft White Sixties took the stage next.  The energy level of this night's show didn't hit the 10 or 11 of the previous two, but the slyly intricate arrangements and the superior songcraft pushed it to a good solid 8 or maybe 9.  The way that Aaron Eisenberg and Joshua Cook's guitars, Ryan Noble's bass and Joey Bustos's drums weaved and flowed together called to my mind the Rolling Stones at their slickest and sharpest ("Start Me Up," "Miss You," "Beast of Burden," like that).  At the head of it all rode Octavio Genera, who crooned, drawled, purred and belted the songs masterfully.  Nearly everyone in the audience moved close to the stage and stayed there for the duration of the set.  One of the guys in the band called this show a "redemption" for them (they'd had some trouble on the road before arriving here).  For me and the other folks in the crowd, it almost felt like a benediction.

A gentleman I spoke with recently said he thought that The Soft White Sixties had what it took to be huge.  I agree completely.

After the Sixties finished, I walked over to the Red Room in time to catch a set by local trio The First Borns.  Their trancey music provided a nice coda to my night.  The gentle, detached singing rendered the simple tunes even more haunting, and both found support in the high-pitched, distorted bass parts, the droning guitar and the effectively spare drumming.  This was my idea of good late-night music.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.

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