Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground -- OK, let us start with an inventory. I see drums, a bass, lead guitar, acoustic guitar and lead vocals, keyboards, violin, sousaphone, trombone and french horn (no truth to the rumor the french horn had refused to practice today). The first song begins with a dreamy pop vocal line with light, quirky music. I hear big band sounds (well that is a keen grasp of the obvious) and interesting keyboards that almost do what the vibraphone did for Tim Buckley. Some startling loud lead guitar work pops through and not surprisingly there is a lot going on here. The songs varied nicely as the set went on with the vocal lines leading the song with lots of room for instrumental jamming in lots of directions. Kind of a cabaret rock feel mostly, but this is music not to be pinned down. The violin got lost in the mix mostly, but it was showcased a few times. The brass was also a bit subtle, but I rather liked that approach. And it is certainly a challenge balancing this many diverse instruments in a small club. Overall, the sound was quite good and the band played really nice songs that indie rock fans with a sense of adventure should love. I know I did.
Damien Jurado - I was wondering how a 9-piece band from Seattle could do a tour for opening band money in small clubs when they answered the question by having the rhythm section, lead guitarist, keyboardist and violinist come back on stage to back the minimalist folkie, Damien Jurado. Jurado mentioned how much fun he was having playing with a full band as that has not happened for him often. As the set progressed, I was in complete agreement. Jurado writes powerful dark folksongs and has a dazzling voice rich in timber in an early Tim Buckley way (lacking a bit of that ridiculous range, closer to Jackson Browne's range, but stronger). The songs were crisp and deep and the backing band adding lovely color. Of course even the extra noise could not drown out a loud check printer at the bar that had half the crowd looking back and got a bemused glare from the lead guitarist. There is always some kind of noise at this club. Jurado remained to do three numbers with just his voice and acoustic guitar. It is more of a challenge to do this after the band, usually it is the reverse. But when your songs are of this great quality, they can easily survive all by themselves. The moderately sized crowd thought so as well.
Quote of the Night: Jurado - "Here is another sad song for you. Of course these are all fictional, you know. If they were about me, I'd be committed a long time ago."