Go with the flow

Becky Anker and Aubrey Debauchery keep a captive audience

MUSICAL ANKER <br>Becky Anker, accompanied by her sister Kate, performs to a full house at Café Flo last Friday night.

Becky Anker, accompanied by her sister Kate, performs to a full house at Café Flo last Friday night.

Photo By Brad Lambert

Review: Becky Anker and Aubrey Debauchery Fri., March 3 at Café Flo

The word “flow” can be can be the linguistic equivalent of a Leatherman multi-tool when used by the music critic and, as some of the more pretentious style guides out there attest, it should be avoided when another, less clichéd word will do.

But then a music event like Friday night’s singer-songwriter tour de force comes along and it just flows out.

Aubrey Debauchery and Becky Anker both possess a flowing lyrical style inspiring the first-time listener with feelings of familiarity, as if they have heard the songs before. The song just fits together well enough even people who don’t know the words can almost sing along.

Both women’s subject matter includes a very somber aspect and it is not out of the realm of expectation to see a tear duct or two flowing in the crowd.

The show also flowed smoothly with a minimum of time between acts and with no organizational problems.

A listing on chicolist.com, Northern California’s most comprehensive resource for underground music events, advertised the bill as “blindingly beautiful.” Well the music was tip top but descriptions like this make it sound like someone may have left the BS valve flowin’.

And while a coffee shop like Café Flo may be an ideal venue for the folksy acoustic genre, the espresso drinks flow freely and the inevitable caffeine high gets the blood flowing faster.

So take all of the above flow of nonsense and make up your own clever little introduction to this review. The show was good and if you missed it, you missed out.

Aubrey Debauchery kicked the night off punctually at the 8 p.m. advertised start time. The people who come to shows at Café Flo seemed to have received the memo to show up on time because that is when the music really starts.

Since returning to Chico from a two-month tour last summer, Aubrey’s music has expanded into areas other than boys who have broken her heart. Bittersweet thoughts of being on the road and a homecoming marathon tryst in the bedroom put smiles on audience members’ faces and the less bashful lent a room full of backup vocals to a singalong.

The best-received song of the set—which started out “the girls are all floozies, and the boys are all easy, and everyone is drunk"—was obviously about Chico. The audience had a good chuckle but settled quickly into thoughtful silence as Aubrey delivered a scathing critique of people in the Chico music scene constantly trying to get into her pants.

After a short changeover Becky Anker took the stage and treated the crowd to her solo crooning. Anker, who may be remembered from her days providing vocals for Nor-Cal indie staples of yesteryear Pan Pan and Royal Crown, has been off the Chico map recently, but a room full of people remembered her style and packed the coffee house to hear her solo offering.

With a vocal style with more of a folkish twang and a higher pitch than her speaking voice, Anker delivered rich lyrics that almost seemed layered. She also plays the guitar in an unorthodox way where the E string is kept humming even on chords it isn’t used for. Anker said that it was due to her not learning how to “really” play guitar and attributed it to slop. But if there isn’t a guitar style that utilizes the technique then the “Anker slop” method should be studied because it gives the chords an added fullness and a minor key melancholy dissonance they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Anker’s original style gave the set an unusual feel, departing from the formulas of the current crop of Chico indie rockers. It was reminiscent of the time when one of Anker’s old musical projects played every week at Moxie’s and indie bands had more freedom to experiment and weren’t afraid to sound a little weird. A throwback to a different time in the local music scene but a welcome one in that it never got stale in its heyday and still remains fresh and intriguing.