The new wave
Audience plays musical chairs at Fulcrum
A crowd of about 30 chose different vantage points to watch West by Swan, Vells and Rogue Wave at Fulcrum Records Saturday night.
The majority of the audience members took in West by Swan’s reverb-slathered rock from the sidewalk—but it wasn’t an indication of the band’s playing that night. Even minus its bassist, WBS kept the sidewalk bustling by delivering a solid set of moody rock that leans in the direction of early Sunny Day Real Estate.
While the tone of West by Swan’s music lent itself to the brisk Chico air, Vells’ synthesized pop brought the crowd inside and lulled them for a spell. It looked like a scene from a local daycare, with audience members sitting properly on the carpet and clapping politely between songs, prompting owner Renà Stephens to slip me a note that read: “I have floor sitters.”
Vells’ sunny vibe took on a different sound with the addition of programmed beats in place of drummer Jeremiah Green, who was performing on Saturday Night Live with his other little band, Modest Mouse. But singer Tristan Marcum’s floating falsetto and keyboardist Mary Thinnes’ swirling synth were more than enough to keep the crowd happy.
But what really caught people’s attention were the Vells Frisbees that rival Buffalo Creek’s beer cozies and Sacramento’s Electric Pie Band match books in terms of merchandising genius. Even Gene Simmons missed that one.
Rogue Wave didn’t have any cool toys, but toys didn’t seem to fit the band’s style. Led by vocalist Zach Rogue, the band played meat-and-potatoes indie rock bolstered by a solid rhythm section and soothing harmonies. The audience stood up for this one.
Supporting its latest Sub Pop release, Out of the Shadow, the band played an energetic set that veered from sweet balladry on "Kicking the Heart Out,' with its hand-clapping chorus, to the full-on rock of "Nourishment Nation." Rogue Wave even managed to make the Buddy Holly classic, "Everyday," sound like one of its own. Keep an eye out for this band, voted Best Pop Band in 2004 by S.F. Weekly.