Sunday, February 28, 2016

The New Normal

Sometimes you just have to walk away from the work and go hear a couple of bands.

Because this weekend has been pretty much one continuous attempt to make deadlines, I missed a lot of things I'd wanted to do. I didn't get to see "Love Me Tender" for the first time at Bowtie or go hear Buscrates' live set at Steady Sounds or make it to the UR movie "Two Days, One Night."

Other than walking, the past few days have been all about the writing and while I briefly considered staying home tonight to do more of the same, I caved.

It was still unseasonably warm, so I walked over to Tarrant's back door for a slice, randomly running into two couples along the way, and realizing afterwards that those two conversations were the first I'd had all day.

At Gallery 5, I felt an hand on my arm, only to find a Brazilian musician I know who's in town to produce a couple of songs for Candy Spots, the first band playing tonight. He'd also played a gig with Bio Ritmo at Hardywood yesterday - "They gave me a big beer!" he gushed - and enjoyed that immensely.

I could see why he'd wanted to produce Candy Spots. To my ear, their jangly '90s-alternative sound had a lot to recommend it. The fact that it was one of the guitarists' birthdays tonight clearly distracted him because he forgot the chords on the chorus of the first song, a fact he pointed out.

The girl playing bass cut him slack, though, saying, "It's his birthday! Who needs a chorus?" When she thanked the room for coming out on a Sunday night and Oscar night at that, someone yelled, "Who cares? Leo's not gonna win!"

Pshaw, I know people who stayed home to watch solely so they could critique the red carpet attire, never mind the awards.

Just as the band began the song they're working on with the Brazilian, all the power went out. After much scurrying, it came back on, the show picked up where it left off and the band completed their short set.

After an interminable set-up period, Baltimore's Other Colors - sax, bongos, guitars, bass, keyboards and drums - began their set romantically with "Dream of Me."  It didn't matter; they had me at bongos.

Even if they hadn't announced they were from Charm City, I'd have known they weren't Richmond musicians. Too much short hair (except the drummer), fashionable clothes (pushed up sleeves on the sax player's blazer, so very not Richmond) and a glaring lack of facial hair (again, the drummer abstained) confirmed their outsider status.

Superficial qualities aside, they were well-rehearsed and had a dancey sound that appealed to the crowd and got some people moving in place.

"Is It Love" featured both bongos and sax and felt a bit like 21st century Boz Scaggs, if you know what I mean. Lyrics such as "a slippery sense of rhythm" were married to beats, recorded tracks and multiple vocalists, making for a vibe that would've been ideal for a hip lounge scene in a foreign film.

They call their sound "spectralist pop" which came across as earnest pop with a wailing sax and tinges of '70s jazz to it. I liked it.

Before doing "Life in Boxes," the keyboard player said, "I'd like to thank electricity for making this performance possible." After the earlier delay, I think we could all get behind that.

They were very gracious, too, thanking the crowd for being friendly, letting us know it was the last night of their tour and how cool they though Gallery 5 was. Good manners, these Baltimore boys.

But eventually work guilt reared its ugly head and I left after their set. The big surprise for me came once I walked home to find that apparently all of Jackson Ward had lost power, not just Gallery 5, because my stove clock was flashing and my computer turned off.

As someone who's lived here for almost ten years, I can tell you it's almost unheard of to lose power in this neighborhood. Whew! Good thing I hadn't been home working and lost a particularly pithy paragraph to power failure.

They say it's hard to get through a day without a good rationalization. There's mine.

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