No hype man needed for Bleepy Hollow (or Sac)

This is Halloween: TBD Fest Bleepy Hollow. Welcome to the warehouse. Cavernous, chilly, with demonic horse-head art fixtures, strobe light photo ops and a cocktail bar that spanned halfway across the eastern wall of downtown Sacramento’s Hanger Studios. As with September’s festival, TBD provides the atmosphere; it’s up to the concertgoers to make the experience special.

Attendees delivered on the costume front. Beyond the Halloween clichés—drunken bananas and bro’d-out referees—the results were varied. I was smitten by a jelly fish gyrating under a repurposed transparent umbrella. A nearby Aztec warrior god impressed, feathers arched over his back. A gaggle of gossipy Martians assessed the crowd.

The ramp on the building’s west end opened up to an outdoor live music venue. Oak Park Brewing Co. loosened the crowd with its makeshift biergarten. The bleepy tunes commenced.

Slow Magic proved to be tribal catharsis. Face obscured by a flashing fake visage that looked how the Donnie Darko rabbit might appear while wearing Majora’s Mask, the nebulous cult favorite bounced, flailed, ripped into his drums.

Perhaps taking the hint that this was a neighborhood, for chrissakes, Com Truise brought it down a notch with his trademark synth-heavy ’80s style. The sea of costumed 20-somethings responded well to the shift, but I wondered if the evening’s sets were backward. Slow Magic prepared us for war. Com Truise gave us a hug.

Between sets, a bald young man in a T-shirt took to the stage to scream and wave to the crowd. “Sacramento!” he yelled. “Sacramento, are we family?!” The room delivered a polite response, but the moment felt off.

“It’s sad that Sacramento needs a hype man,” lamented an angel in the crowd to her lion partner.

She’s right, but it feels like we’re almost there. We’ve reached the critical mass to make a music experience like this worth hosting. It’s up to us to make it special. Good on the TBD folks for keeping our feet moving, for maintaining that creative urgency bubbling under Sacramento’s tempered veneer. Or, for trying, at least.

—Dave Kempa

She’s got soul: As her band the Dap-Kings launched into “New Shoes,” Sharon Jones strutted onto the Mondavi Center stage sporting eye-catching, shiny silver heels. When the song ended, she promptly took them off.

The 59-year-old’s story was already plenty remarkable: a former prison guard discovered in her 40s—nearly two decades later, a Grammy-winning vocalist at the forefront of the ’60s soul revivalist movement. Now, she’s touring in support of her brand new holiday album, It’s a Holiday Soul Party, despite her recent diagnosis of stage two pancreatic cancer.

As Jones switched to more reasonable flats, she reminded the audience of that diagnosis—just in case they weren’t already aware—and how her feet are more tender, and how her skin has darkened in some places, and how there might be some notes she can’t quite hit like she used to. A collective, audible sound of pity could not be helped, to which Jones shook her head.

I’ve got to live it,” she said. “But only for four more months. That’s what I say.”

What unfolded was a sassy, passionate and triumphant performance. The inspiring Jones sounded in perfect, powerful form and demonstrated several old-school, full-throttle dance moves. She teased the polite crowd for generally staying in those comfortable Mondavi seats and brought a few folks onstage for a joyous soul party.

She brought up her cancer over and over—this show was her declaration to the universe that Miss Sharon Jones would transcend expectations and never sit silent.

She recalled the release of “Get Up and Get Out,” off the Grammy-nominated 2014 album Give the People What they Want, and how that coincided with her diagnosis. Though the song was initially supposed to be directed at a romantic interest, she found new meaning in its lyrics.

“I said, ’Cancer, you get up and you get out,’” she said, looking positively fiery. “I’m not gonna let it get me down. I gotta fight it.”

—Janelle Bitker