Sound Advice: Beautiful dares and festival alternatives

Homecoming: The husband-wife team of Caitlin and Johnny Gutenberger played for a friend-filled Witch Room last Friday night, previewing material off their band Two Sheds’ upcoming record Assembling.

Johnny once played in the beloved Sacto band Far. Caitlin once played in Release the Sunbird, the side project of Rogue Wave’s frontman. But in 2006, they released their first album as Two Sheds called Strange Ammunition, praised for its melodic, tender folk rock.

When they moved to Los Angeles in 2012, a friend dared Caitlin to write 20 songs in one day, and suddenly Two Sheds had enough material for a sophomore effort. Ironically, Two Sheds originally first started in a similar fashion—Johnny dared his wife to write songs that match the beauty of her voice. Aww, shucks.

Anyway, Assembling sounds great, and it’ll probably be released this winter or spring.

The first single that’s been floating around online, “It’s Okay,” is a fair representation. It’s simple and beautiful indie rock. At Witch Room, Two Sheds played it effectively as a five-piece, with Caitlin on vocals and guitar, Johnny on bass, Josh Barnhart on drums, Philip Krohnengold on keys and guitar, and Tess Shapiro on backing vocals.

The set started off ambient, atmospheric and quiet. Then Two Sheds played “Heavy,” a strong, catchy rock song off Assembling that got everyone moving in unison. The rock songs kept coming, and Caitlin continued to captivate. “You Get To Me” brought out a sultry, almost jazzy edge.

Ultimately the set ended as it began, with a short but moving song also off the upcoming record, “Come Home.” Intense feedback courtesy of Johnny’s bass.

Maybe this isn’t sounding like the sweet, folky Two Sheds of 2006. Indeed, Assembling leaves behind the slight twang from Strange Ammunition. But it’s not a giant departure either. Caitlin’s glorious voice is still at the forefront, and live, her moody, understated delivery still steals the show.

Let there be noise: If this weekend’s TBD Fest sounds too mainstream for your taste—what with those bands and deejays playing conventional music and all—tune into, instead, NorCal Noisefest on Friday, October 3, through Sunday, October 5. Now in its 18th year, the celebration of sonic experiments is the longest-running festival of its kind in the country.

For those unfamiliar with the genre, noise is all about noise—sounds created in interesting ways, layered with humming or buzzing or screeching or nothing. Melodies, riffs, chants and structure not needed.

Usually Noisefest is made possible by a microgrant from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission—and die-hard enthusiasts—but the entire microgrant program was cut this year.

So creative director Lob, artist behind the band Instagon, turned to crowdfunding.

“We were really worried, but we ended up with more than we were looking for,” he says.

A mere 14 funders contributed nearly $1,700. Beyond the cost of T-shirts, CDs and other marketing materials, the rest of that money will help fill up the gas tanks of out-of-town bands.

Now Lob expects to crowdfund for the festival every year. The campaign’s perks for donating were basically jokes, but people went for them: someone gave $100 to play with his band Instagon, another spent $300 for a full performance slot.

Here are some not-musical highlights, starting with the most musical: Long Beach noise-rock band Gang Wizard plays Saturday night. Gang Wizard is by far the least abstract act, though to most audiences, it’s still a sonic trip. Sounds shoot in crazy, unpredictable directions, but usually there’s some semblance of a beat. Pitchfork reviewed its new record, proving the band isn’t completely underground.

Sacramento’s Uberkunst closes out Saturday night. Along with Instagon, they’re the two bands to have played every Noisefest since 1994. Talk about dedication.

Big City Orchestra is Sunday’s headliner, and a legendary avant-garde collective for more than 30 years. Now based in San Francisco, the group does everything from dada-esque sound collages to eerie electronica.

Noisefest starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Luna’s Cafe & Juice Bar (1414 16th Street) and continues at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Witch Room (1815 19th Street). Tickets cost $10 per day or $40 for the full weekend plus swag. Find them at

—Janelle Bitker