Get off my lawn!
Beatles love: Remarkably, the members of the Lower 48 and Tomten ran into each other in Portland the day before they all played at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen together. Totally unintentional. The Pacific Northwest, right?
It was a smart pairing: two trios from our rainier neighbors—the Lower 48 from Portland, Tomten from Seattle—playing different but complementary takes on ’60s pop.
Opener Lower 48’s lengthy, high-energy set last Thursday channeled ’60s pop and rock ’n’ roll with peppy, catchy tunes. The male-female harmonies between Ben Braden and Sarah Parson were fun and varied—Parson could contort her voice from a soaring, raspy pop sound to something more goth to a metal-esque growl. Pretty badass.
The floorboards shook as the wooden patio filled to the brim with dancers—it was the Beatles meets Vampire Weekend but with bare feet and liberal cowbell.
The band went on to play Davis’ Whole Earth Festival the same weekend—clearly, it has some local fans. In fact, the first time the Lower 48 played Davis was at Sophia’s four years ago. They were 19-year-old kids, stoked to have arrived in the sunny state.
“We were like, California—gotta get weed,” Braden said, recalling the college student dealer he found. “It was bad weed.”
Regardless of bud quality, the evening got a lot more chill when Tomten began. Also ’60s Britpop influenced—dare I say, also reminiscent of the Beatles at times—but quieter. Gentler. Subdued, even. But lovely all the same. You rarely hear this kind of unassuming and baroque organ-driven pop—it’s special. The most magical moments involved three-part harmonies and frontman Brian Noyeswatkins effortlessly juggling three keyboards.
Unfortunately, the increasingly boozed-up crowd couldn’t focus on something so delicate, with their loud yammering successfully competing with Tomten in everyone’s ears. One day, you college kids will understand—and get off my lawn!
Plaza funk: We’re in full Concerts in the Park mode now, and definitely excited for some big names like hip-hop duo Blackalicious (May 29), Jonny Craig’s new band Slaves (June 26) and Yosemite indie rock band From Indian Lakes (July 17).
But of course, it’s great to support the local bands that still circulate small venues in town as well. Such was the case last Friday with Joy and Madness, which proved its headliner-worthiness and then some. Its soulful, funky sound felt ideal for the setting: a blast for drunken dancing, easygoing enough for chilling on the grass and, all the while, totally family-friendly. Sure enough, roughly 6,400 people came out to groove with Joy and Madness. Frontman Hans Eberbach was, per usual, bouncing around with crazy energy and sass. Rapper Rasar—in town for Joseph in the Well’s EP release the following day—flowed expertly over the eight-piece’s soaring horns.
Joy and Madness are also playing the Sacramento Music Festival over Memorial Day Weekend. If you’ve got tickets, take note.
Sort of like SXSW: With more than 60 bands on 11 stages, the fifth annual Davis Music Fest, scheduled to take place through June 19 to June 21, will be its biggest yet. And access to all of that music—with the cool South by Southwest-style of moving from venue to venue around downtown—costs just $25.
Most of the festivities happen Saturday, June 20, including a brand-new electronic dance music stage at Third Space Art Collective (946 Olive Drive). Most deejays are young and local, but there are some bigger names like San Francisco electronic duo Blu J and Davis-based, glitch-circus ringleader Big Joe Daddy.
Another big stage to watch will be at Odd Fellows Lodge (415 2nd Street), curated by Crossbill Records. In alphabetical order: Appetite, Be Calm Honcho, Sunmonks, Tom Brosseau, Two Sheds and West Nile Ramblers. Seriously, it’ll be hard hitting any other stage that day.
Unless you’re more into experimental dreamy soundscapes or low-fi sleepy pop. For the former, you’ll want Los Angeles’ Haunted Summer. The latter, Portland’s Bed. Both excellent, both at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen (129 E Street).
Or if funk, world music and jazz sound more appealing, you’ll have plenty of options between Bomba Fried Rice, Element Brass Band, Ross Hammond and San Francisco’s Brazilian space funk troupe Boca Do Rio. They’re scattered around at different venues, which means you’ll experience the festival as you should anyway. For the full lineup and tickets, head to http://davismusicfest.com.