Ed. note: Today’s dispatch from Noise Pop comes from Friend of Treeswingers Kelvin Tse. Everyone, say hi.
On the first day of Noise Pop 2013, we rolled over to Brick and Mortar to check out a set of four bands headlined by Jason Lytle of Grandaddy fame. Michael Stasis kicked it off with extremely danceable beats and catchy melodies including a song about stumbling onto a Goth party in Oakland in “Land of
the Goths.” Although the room still wasn’t quite full yet when Stasis ended his set, he provided a strong start for the night.
But the contrast between Michael Stasis and Will Sprott‘s music was dramatic. Sprott, of the Mumlers, may strike you immediately as the shy boyish type that struggles internally with questions of the existential sort. His music is of a decidedly different tone and stuck to earnest inquiries about love and heartbreak. While fingerpicking his semihollow body guitar, his bassist laid down an easy groove, and two backup dancers (one rocking shoulder pads) thumped a simple beat on the bass drum and tambourines. But what really pulled the whole thing together was his smooth-as-molasses voice as he crooned crooned classic soul lines like “I don’t want to be free / I just want your arms around me.”
Jenny-O played a mostly acoustic set because her band couldn’t make it up from LA with her. Midway through the show, she wryly commented that all the “folk” songs she was playing were really supposed to be rock songs with an accompanying band. It’s a pity her band wasn’t there to bring some dancing energy to a crowd that seemed ready to go a little nuts after the slow, soulful tones of Will Sprott.
That being said, Jenny-O sounded like a solid incarnation of a cross between Stevie Nicks and Alanis Morissette with nothing but her guitar and voice. Her music exudes folksy sincerity with a hint of a punky bite. When she plucked out her song “Good Love” with its funky blues riffs, the crowd gobbled it up and everyone was officially vibing.
The stage was set for Jason Lytle, and Brick and Mortar was packed. Everyone’s hopes were high, and people were itching to dance. Lytle launched into his popular “Willow Wand Willow Wand” – a gentle pop song that makes you want to close your eyes and sway from side to side as you sing all the words that you know so well. He’s known for an oddball cocktail of synth riffs mixed with guitar and piano, and in this respect, he did not disappoint. Every song was highlighted by melodic keyboard “beeps” and “boops” as well as the occasional growl of bass. Extra nerdy icing on the cake: Lyttle managed to tie every song together with clips from Chopin’s famous Nocturne in E- flat major (yes, that one). Say what you will, the man knows how to enjoy himself on stage.
Unfortunately, his enthusiasm didn’t quite translate to the audience. Song after indulgent song had Lytle slowing building an intro, slowly singing his way through the tune (with plenty of repetition for good measure), and then going back into a plodding outro. The crowd just didn’t have the stamina to endure the set’s languorous stylings. By the time he finished up with the upbeat “Young Saints,” the room had already emptied halfway.
Jenny-O — Good Love (download)
Jason Lytle — Willow Wand Willow Want (download)
Tonight, we’ll take in the Fresh and Onlys, R. Stevie Moore, Plateaus and Burnt Ones at Bottom of the Hill. See you there!