This article was supposed to be a review of a performance by a well-known Northern California band named the Mother Hips. I am a musician and former festival promoter and have seen too many artists to name, but one thing always rings true in the arena of “electrified live music”: No matter who you are, you’re only as good as your sound engineer. It’s not fair for me to slam or glamorize a band when the venue they are playing in doesn’t give them a fair shake.
After suffering through the opening act, the Parson Red Heads, the Hips took the stage and the sound was so bad I refused to listen past the first two songs. There was no low end, and the muddling of the frequencies was simply unpalatable. Sorry, boys and girls. I’m sure if you were a die-hard Mother Hips freak and had a head full of hallucinogens or were completely guttered, you could have dealt with the sonic dissonance and kept on drinking.
Venturing out of this murky black hole of sound and onto the K Street Mall, I was privy to Sacramento’s Finest arresting a couple for public intoxication. Much more entertaining. My advice to the venue is to have a professional sound company come in and do an installation calculated to the dimensions of the venue. This will do your customers and your performers a great service. (Todd Williamson)
Political pop-punk so over?:
Fat Wreck Chords and Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz’s Epitaph Records were huge part of the ’90s skater-punk culture. So was Strung Out (this Friday, 7:30 p.m.; $13-$15; at The Boardwalk, 9426 Greenback Lane in Orangevale), who continues to release records despite a largely disintegrated audience. Everyone is older, but they are still playing with energy and youth, though their political message largely disappeared on their latest album, Agents of the Underground. But the skateboard-video pop punk many grew to love and respect is still comfortably driving Strung Out into the next decade. (John Phillips)
Gig version of a chick flick?:
Sacramento’s Sweethearts was a fitting name for an evening of five local female songwriters, who all showcased their musical talents to a crowded Capitol Garage this past Saturday night. It was also the perfect show to start a new year for this shutterbug.
Lovely ladies Katie Jane, Ally Hasche and Carly DuHain opened the night. When Ricky Berger took the stage, though I have seen her perform regularly since we became friends, she still left me in awe and amazement. Her set included three new songs, one of which she had written the night before. Although it was way past her usual bedtime of 10 p.m., Autumn Sky closed the show. After asking Facebook friends and fans what she should wear to the show, she decided on her usual brightly colored attire, complete with headband and flower. (Amy Scott)
Post-ska odds and ends:
Mia Riddle is your typical female singer-songwriter. I don’t think I would have given her a second glance, but looking over her biography I noticed that bass/guitar player James Rickman is the previous frontman for Santa Cruz ska/punk outfit Slow Gherkin. Because the so-called third wave of ska was so short-lived, it is really interesting to discover what happened to the people involved. So, upon giving Mia Riddle (playing this Monday, January 11, 8 p.m.; $8; at Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Boulevard) a second chance, I came to discover her music is quite charming. Her songs are actually cute, in a way, and her band has a really solid sound: definitely worth checking out. (J.P.)