Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Soft White Sixties, Sun Blood Stories and Northern Giants @ Neurolux (7/28/13)

In a way, I'd been waiting for this show for about nine months.  I'd seen the Soft White Sixties each time that they'd played Boise, and I'd walked away from each show convinced that they were a great band.  So I put this show on the schedule the second after I saw the Facebook event page for it.

I counted about forty-five people when I got to Neurolux.  When the Soft White Sixties played, I counted about eighty, sixty of whom were inside.  Part of me wondered if my little preview for this show helped bring some of these folks down, but that was probably just hubris.

Anyway, I bought a copy of the Sixties' new album Get Right as soon as I arrived.  As I took it back to my car (didn't want to risk having it stolen or damaged), I saw and heard Andy Rayborn practicing outside.

Northern Giants (formerly known as Modesto) opened the show.  At first, they sounded terrific: grinding metal, swaggering funk, terse solos, more nuanced vocals.  After a while, however, the songs started to blur together in spite of the sharp arrangements and solid chops.  I love my RAWK as much as the next guy, but this felt like a bit too much of a good thing.  Maybe these guys could vary it up some.  A couple soulful 5/6 numbers, perhaps?  Or some folky, acoustic stuff?

Sun Blood Stories played next.  I don't quite know why, but this group sounded colder, darker, more menacing here than they have in the past.  At times, I coulda almost sworn I was listening to Sabbath.  That wasn't a bad thing, I think--it could've just been a sign of how polished and confident that they've become.  In any case, Brett Hawkins added some nice little embellishments to his drum-work, and Amber Pollard showed off a pretty fearsome growl.  Meanwhile, Ben Kirby's gritty moan and yowling slide and Andy Rayborn's screeching sax sounded as strong as ever.

The Soft White Sixties's set confirmed my belief that this is one of the best modern rock bands.  While he slid all over the stage and yanked the mic stand around a la James Brown, Octavio Genera's raspy, honeyed croon evoked Al Green's sly tenderness.  Between the locked-in groove, the new guitarist's ripping solos and touches like the bass-and-drums breakdown on "Knock It Loose," Genera's bandmates sounded more than ready to play larger venues.  The band's smart blend of pop, soul and hard rock got the crowd dancing and cheering (especially the girls).

I sure will miss the days when you could see the Sixties play for $6.  There can't be many left.

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