Throwbacks of all kinds

Cinematic: The Force could have been a bit stronger with this one.

The Music of John Williams was the final pop concert in the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera’s revival season, which saw a sold-out crowd at the Sacramento Community Center on Saturday night. I went to one other this season—The Music of Queen—and left bummed about how it underutilized the orchestra. Last week’s showing was much better, but the Philharmonic still has some dust to shake off as it goes into next season.

Conductor Stuart Chafetz was a treat on the podium. He was energetic—he pantomimed flying like Superman during the “Superman March”—and unafraid to let moments stretch and play out fully, like he did with “Adventures on Earth” from E.T.

The first half of the program was mostly material I wasn’t that familiar with, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The back half of the show was filled with big Williams guns: songs from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Jaws.

It was during the second half, however, that I also found myself being a bit more critical. The orchestra sounded good, but there was something keeping everything from sounding great.

Some sections sounded almost dampened and flat—a little on the sparse side. Though the SP&O is excellent at playing quietly, it also seemed hesitant to take some sections to the louder side of the dynamic scale.

It also could be the convention center’s acoustics, or where I was sitting. It could be the size of the orchestra itself.

But I do think part of it was on the orchestra. Especially on pop tunes, which a general audience is going to know and expect to sound a certain way, there isn’t a whole lot of room for interpretation or error. And there were a few moments—some balance issues between sections, some intonation things here and there—that sounded distinctly off.

It was still, overall, a good evening of music, and one I enjoyed more than my last time out to the Philharmonic. There are still some growing pains present, but it’s progress.

Next year’s season has already been announced, and its Pops Series includes nights dedicated to the Beatles, David Bowie and the Beach Boys.

—Willie Clark

Old school: With the progression of digital recordings inevitably also comes the backlash. We have big-name artists like Andrew Bird recording in a barn straight to tape—with a full band on a single track. Locally, we have Honyock and Mondo Deco.

The two bands released a split tape last week, Supercassette H/MD, harkening back to the time when giving your crush a mixed tape was the only move to make. They each recorded two songs via $80 tape deck from 1985—all in a garage, to boot. The result sounds warm, cozy and nostalgic in a completely non-cheesy way. It’s like Honyock is playing its psychedelic-tinged rock right in front of you at a house show: low-fi and intimate. Glam-influenced power-pop band Mondo Deco sounds right at home—deeply familiar, really—plastered in fuzz.

Honyock and Mondo Deco aren’t searching for perfection, and that’s what makes Supercassette H/MD so refreshing. Grab the $5 cassette online from Mechanical Bull Records. And yes, even though the bands recorded old school-style does not mean they failed to include digital download cards.

Surprise, surprise: Sacramento enigma Death Grips announced another album: Bottomless Pit drops Friday, May 6. This is roughly one year after the group’s supposedly last-ever double-record, the Powers That B.

Death Grips already posted the 13 song titles—including the previously released single “Hot Head”—and lyrics online. A brief skim reveals some gems of one-liners, such as “I jizz snowmen,” “a Rubik’s cubicle for the new cog” and “I shit on your guilt trip then extinguish your illness like seven grams of thorazine tyrannic authority cleansed by your aggressor.” Yup. See the rest at

—Janelle Bitker