Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tristan Andreas & Grant Olsen, Johnny Butler and Point Reyes @ Tom Grainey's (7/23/12)

Keesha Renna's Vagabond Promotions set up this avant-garde-ish show at Tom Grainey's, so it caught my attention pretty quickly.  And after listening to a couple of Point Reyes's songs on Bandcamp, I grew intrigued enough to mark it on my calendar.

There weren't many people at Grainey's when I got there, but the place got a surprising influx of people as the night wore on.  They didn't come for the music, but it made me happy to observe that everyone there was at least respectful of this night's various acts (and plenty were more than that).

First up were a pair of local musicians, Tristan Andreas (the gentleman standing and playing the monochord) and Grant Olsen (the gentleman sitting and playing the synthesizer).  Their spare yet tuneful and multi-textured instrumental music made me think of the B-sides of the great 70's David Bowie-Brian Eno collaborations (Low, Heroes), only more interesting.  I thought at first that this act might've been better suited for a place like the VAC, but I noted with pleasure that almost everyone by the bar paid very close attention.

Local musician Johnny Butler played after Tristan Andreas and Grant Olsen.  His astonishingly dexterous and inventive guitar playing would've made this show worthwhile all by itself.  The only sour notes of his set came in the rare moments when he opened his mouth.  The problem had less to do with his breathy, high-pitched singing than with his undistinguished, lovey-dovey lyrics.  Still, his ability to play his guitar as a stringed instrument and a percussion instrument simultaneously more than compensated.  Maybe listening to some Nick Drake would help Butler tone up his words a bit.

New York-based, experimental folk-pop quintet Point Reyes closed out the night.  I'm still struggling to think of some precedent for their playful, jittery, quizzical sound.  John Zorn?  Frank Zappa?  The African music that seems to be a hot trend among indie groups nowadays?  All of the above?  The answer may lie outside my musical knowledge at this time.  Their studiedly amateurish singing reminded me a little of something from K Records, but they arranged their ringing guitar, warm cello, cool xylophone and percolating drums with too much conscious craft to come across as your average ineptitude fetishist.  Not only that, the tidy chaos and quiet desperation of their lyrics could've come right out of a New Yorker or Harper's short story.  I started off unsure about Point Reyes but found that they grew on me as the set progressed (it helped a lot that they came off as much warmer and funnier than your average New Yorker or Harper's short story).  I probably wouldn't listen to their music on a regular basis, but I wouldn't mind hearing it again.

You can look up info on these musicians on Facebook and elsewhere online.  For any folks interested in booking shows around Boise, you can contact Vagabond Promotions by calling 1 (208) 283-0259 or emailing Whatvagabond@hotmail.com.

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