Unfussy, stoned, viral and a little bit country
The Dodos exhibit manic minimalism, the Tiaras maybe enjoyed some alter states, Hozier pleases longtime fans and Kepi goes country
Back to basics: The Dodos’ sixth album, Individ, takes the band back to 2008, with its arguably most successful record Visiter. In between, the San Francisco duo of Meric Long (guitar, vocals) and Logan Kroeber (drums) added members and an electric vibraphone. And Long tended to pick up his electric guitar more than his acoustic. With Individ, Long and Kroeber strip back down to the basics. Manic, fast acoustic guitar with alternate tuning and inverted chords, and crazy complex drum patterns.
Last Tuesday night, a Harlow’s crowd got to taste the live version for the first time. As in, the Dodos had never played the songs off Individ in front of an audience before. A true treat. And the one-hour set blew by—a striking balance between minimalism and visceral pounding.
A few older gems were played—“Black Night” off No Color, “Paint the Rust” and “The Season” off Visiter—which kept the crowd happy. Plus, after maybe the shortest wait for an encore ever, Long pulled out “Chickens,” off the Dodos’ 2006 debut Beware of the Maniacs, effectively a tool in showing off his finger-plucking speed.
The night from start to finish was solid, though. Earlier, the Hush Sound’s Greta Morgan performed with her new project Springtime Carnivore—refreshingly straight-forward, unfussy indie-pop and rock, without any twee or synth.
Opening the show was Tiaras, the new band with ex-members of Sacramento’s Ganglians. After lining the stage with cans of Pabst, the guys launched into their San Francisco low-fi garage meets new wave power-pop sound. It was as killer live as on the self-titled debut—and the newer stuff, a little less ’80s and a little more complex, promises serious excitement. Though, with the exception of frontman Ryan Grubbs’ shimmying in a shimmery shirt and tossing of his long blond hair, Tiaras looked pretty stiff. Or maybe just stoned.
Beyond church: When Hozier played Ace of Spades last Wednesday, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the sold-out crowd. Keep in mind, this was just three days after he had been joined by Annie Lennox onstage as he played his smash hit “Take Me to Church” on the February 8 Grammy Awards broadcast. The following Monday, his website crashed from the viral aftermath.
Would there be hysteria? Uncontrollable screaming from the mostly female—ranging from teens to 40-somethings—audience?
It was quite the opposite.
Many in the crowd have been following this artist for a couple of years, with a reverent knowledge of his repertoire. Those fans seemed be actually distancing themselves from the success of “Church,” which was the No. 2 single in the world at the time of the show. Instead, they focused on the deeper cuts, preferring “Jackie and Wilson” to the big hit.
Andrew Hozier-Byrne seemed to be handling things pretty well himself. The tall, lanky Irishman appeared cheerful and relaxed as he hit the stage, at ease throughout the show. He stuck to the tunes from his 2014 self-titled album and two EPs. In fact, he played every single one of them.
After, the line at the merch table was the longest I’ve ever seen at the club. Safe to say, Hozier will be around a while.
New garage-punk: For those of us who grew up on ’90s ska-punk, Dan Potthast from St. Louis psycho-ska outfit MU330 is kind of a legend. And he’s carved out an impressive post-MU330 solo career—last Thursday, he unleashed his new high-octane rock group Sharkanoid at Naked Lounge. It was the four-piece’s second show ever.
Sharkanoid is a complete 180 from Potthast’s folksy solo material. Potthast was in full-throttle, garage-punk mode with karate kicks, rock star poses and James Brown body spasms. The fact that he’s a nerdy guy with thick glasses and curly hair didn’t make his act come off as ironic, rather a sign of all the fun he was having on stage.
Local punker Kepi Ghoulie—OK, technically he’s a resident of Santa Rosa now—closed the night with songs from his latest album Kepi Goes Country. The name says it all, and surprisingly, it’s his best record in years. Potthast played a makeshift slide guitar, David Houston pounded on a tambourine, Dog Party’s Lucy Giles took up snare and vocals, and Pets, the show’s opener, jammed on some maracas—a campfire-esque set of fun country tunes.