Sizzling and freezing at Sac’s newest venue

James Finch Jr. and Corey Rosander hoot it up at The Space.

James Finch Jr. and Corey Rosander hoot it up at The Space.

Those who are paying attention might have noticed a particular buzz building steam around Sacramento’s Americana scene. It is easy to dismiss the latest acoustic-guitar-wielding singer-songwriter as (at best) a Dylan clone or (at worst) a Dave Matthews wannabe. However, what we have in Sacramento’s young folk musicians runs much deeper than that, and that depth could be seen last Wednesday, January 15, at The Space.

The venue is new to live music but should be well-known to theatergoers. Run by Abandon Productions, one of the area’s more innovative theater companies, The Space (2509 R Street), is essentially a lofty industrial warehouse. Corrugated metal siding lines the walls, and huge rolling doors form the wall behind the stage. Like the former location of the Palms Playhouse in Davis, The Space is a room with real character, and the stadium-style seating surrounding the stage makes for an intimate and comfortable performance locale.

For its music series, the venue has focused primarily on singer-songwriters and is running a Wednesday-night concert series dubbed “Always Wednesdays,” which began last week as eight local singer-songwriter acts shared the stage.

The opening night’s performers—including Kate & Alex, Dre, Richard March, Looking Star, Elena Powell, Sherman Baker, James Finch Jr. and Aaron Ross—ran through three- to four-song sets, each bringing a different sense of texture and color to the stage while maintaining the evening’s general sense of musical unity.

The result of the bill and of the short set times was that the evening provided a decidedly enjoyable and memorable evening of live music. The short set times meant that those artists who seemed less interesting were quickly off the stage and that those who held interest left the audience craving more. One such standout, Looking Star (featuring former members of Sweet Vine and the Mother Hips), refused an encore, and singer Hans Eberbach smiled at the audience and admitted, “Those are the only two songs we know!”

Finch and Powell both seemed in particularly fine form for the evening, with Finch’s vocals rumbling off the steel walls and Powell’s tabla-accompanied singing bringing a weirdly East Indian flavor to the stage.

The Space itself has a few sound issues to overcome. The room is extremely resonant. This can be amazing for un-amplified vocals and instruments, but the amplification required of most performers made the sound a bit too muddy. This was problematic during the first few performers, although Finch’s and Baker’s sound work throughout the evening did improve the sonics. One hopes that, after a few shows, the sound of the venue will be effectively dialed.

There’s one other important note: The venue is neither heated nor insulated, meaning that it is essentially the same temperature inside the building as it is outside. If you’re prepared, as most of the audience was last Wednesday, being wrapped up in your full winter gear and sipping hot tea can add to the whole experience and transport you back to a time when life was simple. E-mail or call (916) 737-2304 for more information.