Monday, August 15, 2016

Always With Intention

Despite the door guy ribbing me, I'd have gone to Gallery 5 even if they didn't have air-conditioning.

That they do was merely further incentive to leave my 95-degree apartment and go see a show I already wanted to see, coincidentally, one with women represented in all  three bands.

Like my history, I prefer my music with breasts.

Not so the two guys on either side of me. One had been bored so he'd randomly picked a show, apparently a habit of his. "I like to choose shows with no intention." He looked at nothing but his phone until the band moved toward the stage, always returning to it when they stopped.


Behind Door #2 was a guy who'd been a musician on the side for years and had  come because he wanted to hear music and had liked Wildhoney's - the Baltimore headliner - sound with, according to him, direct-sounding ties to bands such as Cocteau Twins and the Sundays.

So right there, he got points. Scads more came when he admitted he doesn't watch TV.

But where he blew the lid off his score was in having been at the Malian quartet's Balliceaux show last week when I was, leading to a chat about how much the scene has changed since he arrived in 1996 from Rochester.

A kindred soul indeed, even if he does live in Forest Hill.

To him I showed off my new knowledge - in Virginia, you must have an ID if you're in any place serving alcohol - which I'd gleaned courtesy of the door guy, who'd also given me the line that if I removed my ID bracelet before the show ended, it would explode.

Please wait until you're outside, he's jokingly pleaded.

Twee trio Big Baby was up first and I immediately fell for their male and female vocals/harmonies combined with two guitars (channeling the Sundays and the Cure) and energetic drumming, although they're still working on their between-song banter, a skill set that takes time.

Announcing they were going to play "Dumb Guys," several women in the audience cheered and hooted.

"Christi is next and they're amazing," singer Ali announced, sounding for all the world like a fan girl. After a look from her band mate, she amended that. "After that is Wildhoney. They're amazing, too." It didn't resonate quite the same.

I knew she was right at least about the former because I've seen Christi's seamless pastiche of girl group sound and hardcore before watching them set up onstage tonight.

Whatever tonight's challenges were as the set progressed, vocalist/bassist/fanny pack-wearer Maggie had a philosophy:  "We're just going to do our best," whether it was skipping a song, experiencing feedback or not being able to hear themselves in the monitors.

Announcing that they were going to play a really new song, she turned to vocalist/guitarist Emily and asked, "What's it called?" Climate Change, she told her.

"Okay, we're going to do our best!" she enthused, and they did, not that I've ever seen them not impress.

Forest and I resumed our conversation during the break, with me thanking him for putting in ear plugs at the start of Christi's set. Despite always having a pair or three in my bag, I almost always forget to put them in, except when the person I'm talking to does so.

Maybe I need more good role models.

Turns out that because he's a musician, he had a special pair made that really fit his ears and don't eliminate all the high end like the cheap ones do. We discovered a mutual acknowledgement of hearing loss due to years of show-going but agreed with a handshake that we wouldn't take it back.

Such are the pleasures of meeting fellow music-lovers at shows.

After sound checking, Wildhoney's singer Lauren, wearing her hair in an Audrey Hepburn up-do, a little black dress, gold brooch and combat-like boots, peered into the lights asking the sound guy, "Are we good?''

I think we were about to find that out, weren't we?

Atmospheric female vocals, check; swirling guitars, check; dream pop songs, check. It was my very favorite kind of sound - music from a cave - full of hooks, completely dance-y and made even better by an appropriately groovy light show.

Hello, Sunday night. Yes, they are good.

The fill-in bass player - also wearing a killer LBD with a criss-cross strap feature that replaced jewelry in front - was introduced and praised for having learned all the bass parts in a short time.

Because I liked their music so much, I found the set far too short, but the brevity may also have been tied to what Lauren said toward the end. "Thanks  Big Baby, Christi and Gallery 5 and for that delicious beer that got me drunk with just one."

Some evenings are full of surprises like that. Life will teach you to make the most of what you get handed.

No comments:

Post a Comment