Two big returns: LowBrau is filled up to capacity before Lindsey Pavao even starts breathing into the mic.
More than anything else, Pavao looks relieved. It’s the night of her debut album release with Trophii, her duo with Richie Smith, formerly of Life in 24 Frames and a slew of other local indie bands. This album has been years in the making—two or four, depending on how you look at it. After competing on NBC’s The Voice, she felt crippling pressure to release a solo record, eventually gave into the selfish artist within—her words, not mine—and linked up with Smith to release the album on her own timeline.
And what an album. Vitamins and Flowers is billed as dream-pop but sounds much more like a dream than any pop hit on the radio: an ethereal wonderland of creative mania and steep technicality. Each song offers its own unique take on the concept of structure, the only constants being Pavao’s hypnotic voice, Smith’s propulsive rhythm and layers of texture.
At LowBrau, the duo performs as a four-piece—a big sound that’s a little much for the bar’s acoustics to handle properly, but no one really cares. Everyone is a friend or fan or both, and Pavao’s eyes light up throughout the set whenever she spots another familiar face.
“This is the end of a journey,” she says bluntly. “It’s been really rough.”
Chapter closed. Time for the artistic freedom of whatever comes next.
The crowd thins before Doombird’s set begins, an unfortunate reality of the late hour. It’s also a big night for Doombird: the group’s return after a year of silence, recording and reinvention.
While Doombird’s first album showed off what singer-songwriter Kris Anaya and a 12-piece orchestra could do with pop, the upcoming record and official debut promises a more ’80s-influenced, indie-electronica feel that’s also more fully realized and focused than Doombird’s synth-pop collection Cygnus.
At LowBrau, Anaya debuts this five-piece’s new direction with a voice that seems to float and glide above an ever-widening wall of sound. It’s heavier, more ambient, less poppy but still danceable. In other words, keep your eyes peeled for Past Lives, which drops Friday, December 30.
Take three: Like many last Saturday night, Jayson Angove called for a round of applause for Danielle Vincent.
“You work your ass off to make this happen, so we appreciate you,” he said during Humble Wolf’s set at the official launch party for the third annual First Festival, which takes place May 6 and 7 next year.
After a successful debut, founder Vincent expanded her all-local fest to two days and 40 bands earlier this year. Unfortunately, hardly anyone showed up.
It left Vincent stunned and heartbroken—not to mention the financial bind—but she’s coming back even stronger for next year’s festival. It’s returning to the original fest’s month and location in River Walk Park, and the lineup promises to be its strongest yet.
At the launch party, Vincent announced six headliners, building up to the ultimate: Oleander, a national-level booking that still aligns with First Festival’s local focus. The post-grunge band started in Sacramento in the ’90s and, three years ago, put out its first record in a decade.
Fellow headliners Some Fear None and Arden Park Roots have proven they can deliver crowds at Concerts in the Park. While the hip-hop community complained about a lack of representation in 2016’s lineup, DLRN’s headlining slot means next year will probably be very different. City of Vain and the Moans round it out with more punk.
Early-bird tickets go on sale January 1 and cost $15 for a single day and $25 for the weekend. More at www.firstfestivalsacramento.com.
Hometown hero: Congratulations to Tycho for snagging its first-ever Grammy Award nomination. San Francisco-based Tycho is, of course, Sacramento native Scott Hansen’s project, which also includes local Zac Brown. Tycho’s fourth record Epoch was nominated for best dance-electronica album, up against heavyweights Flume, Jean-Michel Jarre, Underworld and Louie Vega. Hansen got his start playing Sacramento clubs, back when the electronic scene was in its mere infancy.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly noted prices for tickets for First Festival. SN&R regrets the error.