No megaphones. Ever.
Irish luck: It might seem odd to think about St. Patrick’s Day in January, but the New Year does kick off the countdown to the greenest and most Irish of holidays. It also means the fifth year of Irishpalooza, which brought kilts and tin whistles to Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub on Friday night.
First on stage was Whiskey and Stitches. There were some tonal, sound and balance issues, and the band just wasn’t gelling. It also felt very middle-of-the-road; it didn’t blow me away, but didn’t do anything to horribly turn me off, either.
Next up was One Eyed Reilly, my favorite of the night. It made for a drastic change as soon as the band took the stage. One Eyed Reilly was a storm that sometimes got out of control, but mostly in a good way.
Fiddle player St. John Fraser, however, stole the show, and while the band may only have one eye, it seemed to have two identities. The fast and furious instrumental sections were great, but the band needs to find a way to better combine those with its lyrical verses so the transitions aren’t quite as jarring.
Reilly also covered Charlie Daniel’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” not an easy task in itself, especially at the tempo the band took the song at. It takes a brave and ambitious band to attempt that song, and sure enough, sometimes things went by too fast, notes weren’t perfectly clear or a bow missed the strings—but the group is aiming high and was more successful than not. And it was bunch of fun, either way.
Finally, the Pikeys took the stage and managed to hit not one, but two of my concert-reviewing pet peeves in its cover-heavy set. First; there is never any reason for a megaphone. Never. Ever. Second, don’t have a music stand and read lyrics. Concerts aren’t karaoke—come on, now. But, the Pikeys managed to finish strong, even if this wasn’t my favorite flavor on the Irish rock spectrum.
Rockers and cuties: The Kelps headlined a great, mostly local show at Naked Lounge last Friday. The turnout was solid, with a core group of kids in the front dancing, going crazy and singing along to every single song.
Over time, the Kelps become darker and louder, evidenced by its opening tunes that walked a thin line between visceral rock ’n’ roll and brainy cabaret tunes. Lead singer Cory Barringer belted out each song with rage, abandon and a little bit of humor. Topics covered in their set included a couple of break-up songs, a tune about Barringer losing his faith in God and one about a homeless prostitute. The opener was about a pornographer.
Las Pesadillas’ Noah Nelson started the night out with a mellow acoustic set. In this context, his songs brought to mind a storytelling folk singer in a smoky Greenwich Village coffee house. He closed his set with a very cool rendition of David Bowie’s “The Bewlay Brothers.” How appropriate.
The only out-of-town band of the night was the Portland, Ore., duo There is No Mountain. The couple-act has a very distinct, eerie sound that’s almost Beat Happening at its most primal—but sprinkled with a lot of subtle complexities.
Their setup included drums—just a floor tom, a snare and a shaker—and an acoustic guitar plugged into a gigantic effects pedal board. Husband-and-wife team Kali Giaritta and Matt Harmon create striking harmonies that are gorgeous one moment, haunting the next. But on this night the most interesting thing was how the instrumental sections sounded when they jammed out. The acoustic guitarist even shredded, sort of.
The members of There Is No Mountain are good friends with the Kelps. They’ve shared several bills here in Sacramento over the years. They even have a game they play in the car while they’re on tour, where they try to determine which one of the Kelps is the cutest.
“I can never decide,” Harmon said.