Sunday, February 17, 2013

Concert Review – At “The Comic Book Store”

     Last night (February 16), SLG Publishing’s Art Boutiki & Gallery hosted the CD Release party for the San Jose band Troubadour. Art Boutiki is affectionately known as “The Comic Book Store,” raising thoughts of the hit TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”  According to its website, Art Boutiki is “San Jose's swankiest spot for comic books, graphic novels and cool stuff. What else would you expect from the self-proclaimed "Coolest Comics Publisher in America."  The current address is 577 S. Market, but in April Art Boutiki is relocating to 44 Race Street in San Jose.
     Art Boutiki offers a limited number of concert events each month.  Our best guess on capacity is 100 people (the new location will be slightly larger than the current one).  The sound system is more than adequate for the size. As a touch that raises nostalgia for a wide range of attendees, the “wallpaper” behind the stage is an assembly of album covers from artists of various genres, something for everybody. The price is always affordable, and because the venue does not sell alcoholic beverages, an evening at Art Boutiki is always an inexpensive, worthwhile event. 
      Last night, the younger one of us could not make it, but Alan L. joined me. It was a collection of artists that only Art Boutiki would book - four artists with not much more in common than what appeared to be a genuine appreciation of being part of the program.

     The first performance of the evening was Better Promises, which is primarily Brandon Gross.  The other member deserves mention, but we did not catch his name.  Like the overall program of that night, Better Promises was all over the map in its performance. Better Promises started with a song, but then Gross explained that he was taking a poetry class (he’s about 20 years old) that required a presentation, so he would mix poetry recital with the music.  WHAT??? Hey, it actually worked.  Gross added in some improvisational song writing.  Then, he finished with an attempt to use the whistling start of “Five Years Time” by Noah and the Whale as the basis for a loop that would continue to build as they progressed through the finale. Unfortunately, Gross had to go to a less attractive loop alternative, because he couldn’t repress laughter and whistling is not an option during laughter. Still, if you judge a performance upon how engaged the concert-goers are, Better Promises had a very successful evening.

     After a set change, we were ready to enter a very different dimension, musically.  Big Tree is an Indie pop quintet based in Berkeley, Ca. If you are just skimming through this review, there is just one thing you need to know about Big Tree – THEY ARE GOOD. In fact, when they added the xylophone after about half their set, they were much better than good. The five members were Kaila McIntyre-Bader, Anna Ghezzi, Luke Bace, Dan Pirello, and Matt Schory. It was Art Boutiki's own Dillon Vado who stepped in with the added percussion. A short segment from the performance is available below:

     When Kaila and Anna worked together on vocals, they had the complete attention of the audience, even the people who like to go to concerts in order to have a place to hold a conversation.  But the band included a quality male voice as well.  They did try some new songs (that’s what Art Boutiki is about), and the new songs needed some practice, but we were warned that the new stuff was like a baby with large ears that needed to be grown into (there was disagreement over the comparison of the baby having too many toes). 
As a sample of their music, below is the title track from the CD “This New Year.”

     Onward to the next musical dimension, country rock.  Hurricane Roses is from Santa Cruz/San Jose. Comparing the band to those from the height of country rock, when Marshall Tucker was one of the rulers, Hurricane Roses was certainly more country than rock. But there was a sufficient amount of rock to keep rockers interested.  And it was clear that a number of attendees showed up primarily or exclusively to see Hurricane Roses. The musicians were skilled and Angelina Lemucchi’s voice is forceful. The only disappointment was that the banjo playing didn’t follow them to Art Boutiki. Below is their song “Heart Grows Tired.”

     Finally, to the fourth musical dimension, post punk rock.  In reality, some of the songs by Troubadour were rock songs seemingly removed from any punk influence. The band is based in San Jose and consists of Rob Ernst, Jeremiah Dias, Andrew Beach, Derrick Reyes and Jared Kauk.  It was easy to be happy for these guys. It was their CD release party and a healthy portion of the audience seemed to personally know at least one member. It is not uncommon to hear someone yell, “We love you” at a concert, but it seemed much more genuine last night. The band enjoyed the evening, and it was infectious.  Good luck with your new release guys. Below is the first song they played in the setlist, “The Drought."

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