Saturday, October 13, 2012

Swansea and Little Owl @ the Flying M Coffee-Garage (10/10/12)

This show caught my interest by simple virtue of its location; I've always enjoyed catching gigs out at Nampa's Flying M, and I hadn't been out there in a while.  Of course, it helped too that the bill featured two out-of-town bands I'd never seen before.  And when I learned that one of those bands hailed from Santa Barbara, I felt almost obligated to go (I got my B.A. from UCSB).

Because its acts didn't have much drawing power around here, I'd suspected that not many people would attend this show.  Being right sucks sometimes: I saw only one civilian in the crowd when I arrived, and the audience would peak at just fourteen people.  To their credit, neither band seemed to let the meager crowd adversely affect their performance.  Of course, I'm sure that they know full well that that kind of attitude can help get you drawing power.

First up was Swansea, a quirky indie-rock trio from Portland.  I took it as a promising sign that their lead singer, Rebecca Sanborn, was wearing a Fanno Creek t-shirt.  Being right feels good sometimes: this group's hypnotic keyboard hooks, rousing harmonies and powerhouse drumming struck a nice balance between arty and poppy.  As an added bonus, their lyrics were not only intelligible but commendable.  One song called bullshit on a significant other's negative attitude while the proudly independent protagonist of their warm, redemptive closer resolved to stay by another other's side.

After Swansea came Little Owl from Santa Barbara.  My heart sank a little when I saw this group's leader, Yoni Berk, wearing a ridiculous wool reindeer sweater before the show (superficial, I know, but hey, Patton Oswalt knows what I'm talking about).  Being wrong feels good sometimes: their hooky songwriting, airy keyboards, droning riffs, stoic basslines and furious drumming transcended mere cutesiness and achieved irresistibility.  They could shift between full-throttle rave-up and swinging funk at the drop of a hat.  Their lyrics weren't too shabby either: one song drew upon Berk's experiences in the Middle East while their closer, "Track Star," featured a tidy satirical portrait of the status-fixated titular figure.   If you're gonna be a hipster, you could do a lot worse than this.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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