Ed. note: Friend of Treeswingers Ashley Dotterweich very graciously reports back from Bottom of the Hill, with a personal connection to Wednesday night’s headliners. Everyone, say hello.
Full disclosure: The Fresh & Onlys saved my ass once, so I’m predisposed to like them. Back in the spring of 2011 I was finishing up my stint working in Los Angeles on the Natural History Museum’s First Fridays program when our headliner cancelled- the day of the show. Luckily for us, the Fresh & Onlys , by some miracle, were free that night and headed down from San Francisco to play the show and save the day. Last night at Bottom of the Hill, they didn’t disappoint.
Openers the Burnt Ones started off the night like a punch in the gut and didn’t let up. Their lo-fi psych/punk sound left my ears ringing well into the next set, but they set the tone for the rest of the night. The Burnt Ones’ lead singer has a Jagger-esque flair for theatrics, occasionally sliding onto his knees and playing his guitar behind his head, that made seeing them on stage a stripped-down spectacle; put them in big hair and makeup and they wouldn’t seem out of place at an ’80s glam rock show.
San Diego’s Plateaus kept the energy up, with a laidback pop feel that bordered on punk, and had everyone bobbing their heads halfway through the first song. Jon Greene was the real standout in the group; the wailing vocals and fast-paced riffs were grounded by his skilled drumming.
When R. Stevie Moore took the stage, the uninitiated might have been a bit confused. The man looks like Santa Claus- if Santa dyed his beard blue, donned a black hoodie and greeted fans with a gravelly “Where my bitches at?” Moore’s style defies categorization- one moment his growling vocals suggest punk roots, at the next he busts out a few bluesy bars. “Truth be told,” Fresh and
Onlys’ Tim Cohen said near the end of the night, “We should be opening for him.”
Moore may be a lo-fi legend, but the Fresh & Onlys deserved the headline last night – their medley of fan favorites like “Waterfall” and some great stuff off their new album Long Slow Dance like “20 Days and 20 Nights” amped up the crowd for the rest of the night. Their sound was polished and dreamy without sacrificing their strong garage rock roots. Not only was their set a great end to the night, but the band’s charisma and stage presence was pitch-perfect as well. When Cohen wasn’t proclaiming in the merits of Fireball cinnamon whiskey, he was improvising heartfelt song dedications. “This song is dedicated to….hm. I guess nobody,” he mumbled as people in the front row shouted out names. “Ok sure. This song is dedicated to Tricia, now and forever.”
Overall the energy level and pace of the show was impressive; none of the sets felt too long or too repetitive, and each group’s style juxtaposed well against the one before it, building to a polished finish that left everyone in a good mood. Whether jamming at a museum in LA or playing a dive bar in SF, the Fresh & Onlys put on an awesome show for fans and new listeners alike.
The Fresh & Onlys — 20 Days and 20 Nights (download)
The Fresh & Onlys — Waterfall (download)
We’ll be at Brick & Mortar tonight to catch local loonies Warm Soda, along with Free Energy, In the Valley Below, and Miner. Check back!