Concerts in the Park—it's time to play big or bro out

Concerts in the Park season is back: This time last year, I was talking hella smack about Play Big Sacramento, the new Friday Night Concerts in the Park curators, and all that 2012 drama. This year, I’m eating some crow—CITP made smart changes and did well last year—but I’m still gonna talk trash.

Applications are due this week on Tuesday, January 15, for bands and artists who want to play the 2013 CITP series, which kicks off in May. All the info on how to apply—including a flier that graphic designers have been poking fun of like it’s the new University of California logo—can be found at I know you bands and musicians are born procrastinators, but please, put down that PBR can or blunt and email the application.

Because, while CITP admittedly upped the ante in a major way last year, we can’t have all that hard-rockin’ bro-ness take over the park again this summer. Cesar Chavez himself has been appearing in my sleep, complaining about flanger-pedal abuse and never-ending octave runs. Let’s mix it up.

For instance: Aaron King, the Alkali Flats, Appetite, Arts & Leisure, Be Brave Bold Robot, the Bell Boys, CAVE Women, Charles Albright, Chuuwee, Cowboy and a THUG, Dibiase, Dippin’ Sauce Blues Band, Dog Party, Doom Bird, DJ Billy Lane, DJ Mike C, DJ Oasis, DJ Rated R, DJ Roger Carpio, DLRN, Dusty Brown, Elements Brass Band, Exquisite Corps, Forever Goldrush, the Four Eyes, G. Green, Gentleman Surfer, the Golden Cadillacs, the Grant Union High School Drumline, Harley White Jr. Orchestra, I’m Dirty Too, James Cavern, Kill the Precedent, Knock Knock, Live Manikins, Massive Delicious, Musical Charis, Paper Pistols, Parie Wood, Project4Trees, Rad, Ross Hammond, Sam I Jam, Sea of Bees, Screature, Sister Crayon, Sleeprockers, Task1ne, Tribe of Levi, Who Cares, Wife & Son. None of these artists played CITP last year and deserve a good look this year by the smart, passionate-about-music dudes (still all guys) of Play Big. I doubt all these artists will apply—again, they’re musicians!—and I’m sure I forgot a few bands, too. But, anyway, consider this their application. And here’s to a great CITP 2013! (N.M.)

Let the guitars do the talking: If Dale Smallin, former manager of the surf-rock band the Surfaris, was still alive and living well in Sacramento, he would have been stoked on all the bands’ performances last Friday night at Old Ironsides. On the bill: Mindflowers and Drive-Thru Mystics, two bands who crank out tunes reminiscent of ’60s garage rock with spurts of psychedelia—all of which sent the crowd of 50-plus fans dancing with partners or at times, solo. Drive-Thru Mystics opened the show with a sound that caters more toward the classic ’60s-era rock ’n’ roll with fun, catchy choruses and welcomed a new drummer, Mando Camero.

Mindflowers provided the same rock ’n’ roll vibes, but with more psychedelic hints that prompted audience members to dance appropriately, with arms floating slowly in mid-air. The vocals of Mindflowers sounded cute and sunshiny, while the rest of the band served as a likeable nod to all things old-school pop. What started out as a night of ’60s rock ’n’ roll, however, ended in some good ol’ blues provided by Blue Oaks. Vocalists and guitarist Brendan Stone and drummer Cody Walker may be two sharp-dressed men—Stone with bow tie and suspenders, and Walker in slacks and argyle socks—but the image of this duo doesn’t necessarily speak any louder than its music.

As he stood on the stage, Stone’s slicked brown head nearly touched the ceiling, “I’m just too damn tall,” he jokes. “I always forget that.” Stone’s somber vocals were kept low and muddy during the set, letting the guitar notes speak as Walker avidly watched Stone’s fingers dance over strings from behind his kit. During the entire set, the musicians kept an eye on each other as if they could improve each song in the process. Walker’s percussion style sounded light when it needed to be, but when Stone strummed forcefully, instructing his instrument to scream, Walker’s crisp crashes on his rides and sharp hits on the snare drum were right there. The two have only been playing together since Thanksgiving and admittedly, yeah, they have room to improve, but it also goes to show that when two musicians understand their direction, anything goes.(S.R.)