Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dark Dark Dark, Emily Wells and Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars @ the VAC; the Soft White Sixties @ the Red Room (10/28/12)

Sometimes you gotta make the hard decisions.  Each of the Soft White Sixties' three previous performances in Boise had kicked ass, so I had no doubt that their show at the Red Room would prove equally posterior-brutalizing.  Not only that, that bill featured two fine local acts, Brett Netson and CAMP.

And therein lay the rub: I'd already written about all three acts before (multiple times, in two cases).  So, much as it pained me to miss the Sixties, I opted to check out the show at the VaC, which featured two acts I'd never seen, Dark Dark Dark and Emily Wells.

Some chores at home kept me from getting down to the VaC until 8:30 pm.  I did a quick head count and tallied somewhere between fifty and sixty people in the crowd.  A damn good turnout for a Sunday night.  I just hoped that the Red Room's show had a comparable audience.

First up was local group Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars.  I missed the beginning of their set, but everything that I heard reconfirmed my belief that this is one of the best groups in Boise.  Storie Grubb cranked out some sharp guitar solos while his vocals caressed the tunes one moment and gave them an Indian burn the next.  Mathew Vorhies's jaunty accordion and Luna Michelle's calm harmonies added sweetening to the acerbic lyrics.  Luna Michelle's sinewy basslines grounded the music while Bruce Maurey's drums blasted it into the stratosphere.

New York-based musician Emily Wells played next.  It took barely one song for her bluesy purr-and-moan and her intricate tapestry of beats (both canned and fresh) and hooks (conjured up via synth, melodica, violin and looped vocals) to get the crowd up and dancing.  Wells responded in kind by keeping them that way right up to her set-capping art-rock reconstruction of "Fever."  Worth the price of admission and then some.  And then some more on top of that.

Dark Dark Dark closed out the night at the VaC.  Part of me wants to say that this Minneapolis group combined the glum atmospherics of Desertshore with the gleaming tunecraft of Chelsea Girl, but comparisons with Nico don't quite fit.  Rather than a hopeless stare into the abyss, their jazzy mixture of solemn keyboard, tidy trumpet, soothing accordion and fluid drumming felt more like a warm blanket on a solitary winter night.  When they put a bit more oomph into the music, it was like walking arm in arm with your girlfriend/boyfriend on an autumn afternoon.  Whether dropping standard show patter ("What's up, Boise?") in a guileless monotone or recounting how the band discovered a bunch of deer skeletons along the Salmon River (her main memory of Boise, she said), leader Nona Marie Invie's awkward stage presence proved endearing almost in spite of itself.  The crowd didn't really dance, but a handful of folks swayed appreciatively.

A prudent man would've gone straight home after the VaC show so he'd get enough sleep to function properly at work the next morning.  I, on the other hand, am not one to let concerns over my financial, physical or mental well-being get in the way of seeing a great band.  So, I headed over to the Red Room and arrived just in time to catch the entirety of the Soft White Sixties' set.  The San Francisco group looked just a little tired--this was the last gig of a two-week cross-country tour--but sounded in fine form nonetheless.  In fact, they fell into such a strong, seemingly effortless groove that I was willing to overlook their shout-out to the Giants for winning the World Series (I'm a lifelong Dodgers fan).  Happily, over fifty people got to hear and dance to Josh Cook and Aaron Eisenberg's fiery guitars, Ryan Noble's liquid bass, Joey Bustos's bedrock drumming and Octavio Genera's soaring, soulful vocals.

Four for four.  Come to think of it, that kinda makes 'em like the Giants, doesn't it?  Crap.

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Duck Club Presents.

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