Music's color wheel
Shades of sweetness: Terra Lopez says she usually closes her eyes when she sings—the colors she sees due to her synesthesia are too overwhelming. But also insanely beautiful.
At Sister Crayon’s show at Harlow’s last week, though, Lopez’s eyes were wide open almost the entire time. She didn’t make eye contact with the superfans in the crowd. She was staring at her own personal show of fireworks.
Once in an intervew, Lopez had noted seeing lots of green when she performs, and I tried to imagine Harlow’s—bathed in red and blue lights—with a greenish glow instead. Regardless, the place was insanely beautiful, bursting with love and hometown pride.
“This is one of the most fun shows I’ve played in a long time,” Lopez said on stage at the tail end of Sister Crayon’s powerful, raw set—the duo’s dutiful M.O.
Lopez and beats-master Dani Fernandez, along with a live drummer, blasted through much of Sister Crayon’s new album, Devoted. Although the record’s only been out since June, many in the audience already knew all the words.
Sister Crayon opened with a gorgeous, goose bump-inducing and slowed-down version of “Armor,” setting the tone for an emotional evening, then coolly segueing into the album version of that frantic, dancey track. For the next hour, Lopez owned the building, channeling the heartbreak and desperation that wrote Devoted.
Earlier, locals Stevie Nader and DLRN split an opening set, backed by DJ Druskee and drummer Omar Gonzalez-Barajas. DLRN’s Sean Lamarr, impressed by the sizeable crowd of folks rocking out early, issued a thanks: “I bet you guys didn’t come here for hip-hop.”
That wasn’t entirely accurate, though, given the rich hip-hop influences on Sister Crayon’s Devoted. And truly, I can’t think of a better local opener for 2015’s Sister Crayon than Nader and DLRN. Even though Nader and DLRN collaborate all the time, it’s never less special. It’s just a combo that works so well—Nader’s backup vocals on DLRN’s “Fear & Loathing” and Lamarr’s guest slot on Nader’s “Make You” along with rapper Soosh*e created soulful, dynamic breaks from the norm.
Meaty set, not-so-meaty crowd: Weekday shows tend to suffer, and unfortunately, the July 28 Meat Puppets stop at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub followed the trend.
Even with a billing that would most likely fill up a venue of the same size in any other market— Soul Asylum was also on the bill—Sacramento numbers were just enough to keep manager Jim Cornett happy. In other words, Harlow’s just broke even.
Meat Puppets founding members Curt and Cris Kirkwood along with drummer Shandon Sahm and touring guitarist Elmo Sherwood (who is Curt’s son) opened with a wonderful instrumental called “Seal Whales” and slowly coerced everyone from the back and front patios to venture inside.
Singer-guitarist Curt led the band through spirited renditions of the Meat Puppets catalog (with songs dating back to the band’s inception in 1980), including a lengthy version of “Up on the Sun” that showcased the group’s dynamics and ability to stretch out a traditionally five-minute song. Also worthy of note was the inclusion of “Comin’ Down” from Meat Puppets’ iconic 1994 release Too High To Die.
And although Curt hinted that he had some tempo issues with Sahm on a couple of numbers, the band settled in and ultimately delivered an awesome set replete with fan favorites including “The Monkey And The Snake,” and a cover of “Cathy’s Clown” by the Everly Brothers.
Of course, no Meat Puppets show these days is complete without the band’s hit song, “Backwater,” or the wonderful “Lake of Fire” and “Plateau.” For the uninitiated, Curt and Cris were invited by Nirvana to play the latter two songs for the band’s breakthrough MTV Unplugged sessions. During the night’s performance of both, countless people within earshot whispered “Hey, here’s that Nirvana song,” while serious Meat Puppets fans just smiled. If they only knew.