Damon & Naomi - This is at least my fifth time seeing this duo, previously known for their work in Galaxie 500. They have slowly and very quietly worked their way into my musical world with their thoughtful and contemplative songs. They came on with Bob Rainey guesting on soprano saxophone. Alasdair MacLean from the headliner guested on guitar on about half the songs. But alas, Ghost's Michio Kurihara was not on this tour. Damon did explain (see below) that visa issues prevented his appearance. Too bad, but Rainey's sax did well enough with smooth fade-in and fade-out moves which covered for some of the moves Kurihara has provided in the past. Naomi stuck with keyboards for the set while providing her usual brilliant vocals. She and Damon sing so well together and really pulled the listeners in tonight. This crowd of 50 or thereabouts was a very sharp crowd and about as hushed as anything short of a Mahler concert. This music may a bit too down in tone for some, but it is not downer music to my ears. And kudos to Damon for mentioning the tuning issues (it is really humid, it's hitting everyone in town) but soldiering on. "We could just do our Gram Parsons-Emmylou cover set. Tuning never stopped him..."
Amor de Dias - This is the US debut of a new band featuring Alasdair MacLean of Clientele and Lupe Nunez-Fernandez of Pipas. They both sing, play guitar, and Lupe adds percussion and glockenspiel. They are touring with a cellist which added a rich bottom sound to the folkish top end. It was a really nice sound with some good guitar work behind the rich vocal harmonies, yet was "savaged by Pitchfork" as MacLean mentioned. So what did Pitchfork say about their album? "It is beautifully crafted and rich in demure detail, but Street of the Love of Days is largely bereft of energy or direction." OK, I'll buy off on the lack of energy, but that is hardly the point when you are playing moody quiet music. Yes, there can be underlying tension in quiet music like Nick Drake, but it is not always necessary. Bereft of direction? That is part of those the cliched music critic lexicon that I don't touch. The band plays music to me, that is direction enough. I either stay with it or move on. And since I do agree that the music was beautifully crafted with lovely detail, I stayed with it, as did the rest of the crowd. I welcomed hearing some of the things I heard in Trader Horne (male/female harmonies), COB (mysterious origins), or early Donovan (deep quiet). And turning negative energy into humor and positive energy, they finished with "...a charming lullaby that no doubt Pitchfork will one day classify as the 479th best song written in April, 2011".
Quote of the Night: There were many as these bands were filled with smart engaging people. But Damon explained Michio's absence... "Michio had his passport stolen when he was with us in England and his work visa was in it. When at Heathrow, the US Customs officials could find the records of it, but they wanted to see the paper. Michio had made guitar picks to sell with profits going to energy concerns to get earthquake damaged areas up and running on clean energy. Michio asked the official if it was ok if he came into the US as a volunteer? Well... no. OK, how about if my earnings go to this charity? (sympathetically) Well..., maybe but you still risk being banned from coming into the US forever."
With Boris tours, Ghost tours and hopefully future D+N tours, Michio flew back to Japan.