Saturday, February 24, 2007

Recap: Sunset Sessions & The Ken Club

I have a splitting headache right now which I why I'm home at 10 pm on a Saturday night. If the aspirin kicks in, I might venture out, but it's not looking good. As I've mentioned, it's been a busy music weekend for me.

Friday's Sunset Session started off with a band called No More Kings. I was expecting a very vanilla band, but I was really actually impressed. After a million songs about love, it was fun to hear about other stuff in a band's lyrics. They have a song called "Michael", written from the perspective of Kit from Knight Rider. They also have a song called "Sweep The Leg" which is an apology to Danielson from Johnny in Karate Kid.

I thought they were kinda fun and original, and yeah they're a little cheesy but they don't really take themselves too seriously. At moments I could hear influences like Living Colour or twinges of Maroon 5, but that's what a AAA showcase will bring you.

Tyrone Wells was second and played a set shorter than most of the artists for whatever reason. As far as singer songwriters go, I either love the voice or don't, and I'm not crazy about his sound, but a lot of people are, so I'm not saying I'm right, he just didn't do it for me.

Josh Kelly was third and we were right back to vanilla. In the first song he introduced each band member by letting them jam out solos which to me was over doing it and should've been something to close with, not do in the first song. I couldn't place what his voice sounded like and then a Michael McDonald song popped in my head and after I barfed in my own mouth a little, I decided Josh Kelly is not for me...

Thankfully there was more to look forward to. Joss Stone finally came onstage to close the session. She is absolutely amazing. First of all, she's gorgeous, her hair is dark with reddish pink streaks in it and curly and bouncy as she dances all over the stage. Her voice is amazing and I'm not really even into her music. She's really flirty onstage, making eye contact with the audience and even jumping into the crowd to serenade people in their seats. Her new single is called "I love how you love me" and could've segued right into "Midnight Train to Georgia." She played her hits amongst other new tracks and closed with "Got A Right to Be Wrong" and the crowd was totally into it. She performs with a full backing band as well as 3 backup singers who only increased the power of her performance.

After the set, I was on my way to home base and walked over to the Ken Club for Zerox, The New Motherfuckers, and Fifty on Their Heels. Zerox is a sloppy punky band from Chula Vista that reminded me of the bands my friends used to play in back in the day. I could see them being the kids that hang out at Just Java like we once did, and occasionally venturing up to Café Chabalaba or the Ché. People complained that they were too loud but I had my earlove earplugs and was just fine. Seriously, they are awesome and only $10 on Insound. Buy them! (You can still save 10% by typing in "SXSW_Insound")

The New Motherfuckers were second and I loved them. I was feeling a David Byrne crossed with Devo sound when CatDirt tells me "they sound like the Talking Heads". Since everyone is being compared to the Talking Heads these days, I wish I could be more specific, but nobody suggested I have any depth in these recaps. All I know is I loved them and hope they come down again for Sessions Fest.

Fifty on Their Heels closed the show and played some new tracks. They have controlled their sound a lot which is excellent because I've seen them before where my ears felt blasted. Punk is cool, but if you can sing, you should let people hear the vocals, and Junior did just that. He jumped into the crowd several times and climbed chairs and whatnot. I had kinda taken a break from their shows because I had seen them so many times, but they are evolving which is great for them.

I closed the bar down and managed to get up this morning to buy my Arcade Fire tickets, which I was disappointed about but now I'm just thankful I got a pair at all. And to all you ASSHOLE scalpers who were already posting on Craig's List today, FUCK. YOU. ALL. I sometimes wish ticket sales were like the old days when you'd line up and the only place you could buy tickets was at the venue because a show in San Diego should be for San Diegans, not for the hordes of people flocking to our region for Coachella. Bitter much? Yes, and so what?

Today's Sunset Session was a fun one. Since I didn't wanna piss anyone off by disclosing the location, I will now since the thing is over. It was held at Paradise Point resort. The first night was inside a hotel ballroom because of the weather, but last night and tonight were on a lawn with probably about 150-200 attendees, maybe less.

I was sitting up front when Joshua Radin played. Here's what I'm talking about with singer-songwriters...some bore me to tears, and some, like him, I just love. The first time I heard "Star Mile" I probably played it 15 times in a row. That's why I was so happy that it was the first song he played (and that his album was included in the swag bags). His band consisted of a second guitarist, a standup bass, a violin, a cello, and a percussionist with just a single drum and cymbal, and a wood box seat that doubled as an instrument. He played Star Mile, The Fear You Won't, These Photographs, Closer, and Only You which is the new single and a cover. Schuyler Fisk was singing backup for Joshua and the two together sounded beautiful. If you're a sucker for all things Zach Braff, i.e. Garden State, you already know Joshua Radin.

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Malea McGuinness was second and I was happy that I bumped into my friend David because for me it was a snoozefest despite a full band. There are some musicians that I like who will probably never make it big, some that I'm not surprised when they do, and some you just wanna tell to get a gig in a bar in a casino in Vegas. Every song the band played to me sounded like another song and when one seemed like a total rip of "Don't Cry Out Loud" I was over it. Soccer moms would probably go apeshit over this stuff. Not me.

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Willy Mason was the next singer. Another guy with just a guitar, but I was really impressed. His first couple songs were sung in a deep monotone so it took me a while to get into him, but his voice is very unique. I don't wanna piss off Johnny Cash fans by making the comparison, but how about if I say his voice is like Joaquin Phoenix doing Johnny Cash? He's from Massachusetts but you'd think he was from Missouri and could fit right in singing old coal miner songs. His lyrics were really smart, too, and more thoughtful than the standard ripping your heart out stuff. In Save Myself, for example, his lyrics are thought provoking and touch a nerve like "when the old religion becomes the new greed- save myself, gotta save myself". He is playing the Belly Up next month and I highly recommend checking him out.

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Last to hit the stage was Ozomatli. Having 9 people in a band makes it impossible not to feel like they are always a party. Imagine them showing up in your living room, your first impulse would be to grab a bottle of Patrón. Seeing them here was no exception, and they got pretty much the entire crowd on their feet. They played City of Angels, Can't Stop, America, Magnolia Soul, When I Close My Eyes, After Party, La Segundo Mano, and Saturday Night. They are a fun party band and the perfect band to end that part of the evening.

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Afterward, David and I had dinner at the Barefoot Bar and his favorite band, The John Butler Trio, was seated nearby. My headache prevented me from staying for their 11pm performance, but I'll get the full report later.

By the way, I have been using so many different cameras this week, but I finally bought one today, so I will get to posting all the pics tomorrow when I have a little more energy.
nighty night...

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