Samantha Harmonie - "That's my real name--I'd never make up anything that cheesy" states tonight's local solo opener. Although Harmonie does harmonize once, during the last song with her stepfather who comes up to play some classic blues guitar with her. But for most of the set, it is her simple acoustic guitar chords and flexibly powerful voice. The guitar work is clean and simple, but it is quite effective with its pace in creating a somewhat haunting environment (which will effectively foreshadow tonight's headliner). She covered sultry blues, classic folk, and folk-rock styles with her vocal work and songwriting. This was a fine opening set that was both pleasant and thoughtful.
Soley - From the island of Iceland and the band Seabear, comes Soley and two supporting musicians. She is touring a solo album, which has quickly brought her much acclaim, and has brought in a nice crowd of about 50 people here on a Monday night. She handles all vocals, plays a bit of guitar, keyboards, and creates several loops. She has a drummer who only adds drumming and light percussive touches as needed. There is also one guy on guitar and keyboards who also handles his parts with great delicacy. The musicians create a breathtakingly quiet atmosphere that is light on sounds and heavy on mystery and imagination. The pianos sound like they are from dreams of an unmade 1930 German film, while the guitars create a delicate psychedelic vibe that only the finest of psyche-folk players seem to evoke. Her voice is delicate, yet firm and only adds to the haunting atmosphere. There is so much quiet and space here and it is amazing that the audience is so quiet and absorbed by it all. Well, not really, a this music is simply that powerful enough to keep everyone at rapt attention. She thanks the crowd for that and in spite of the eerie vibe of the music, she displays a fun and engaging pattern in her heavily accented stage patter. I keep thinking of how I was pulled into her musical world in the same way that I have been at Spiritualized shows in the past. Not that the sounds are overly similar, but the magical environment is one place I am happy to visit. Soley's performance tonight was definitely one of the highlights of the year. Hopefully, this will be a regular occurrence.
Quote of the Night: Soley, after repeatedly apologizing for saying something about the President that I did not even pick up on... "What is said in clubs, stays in clubs". Ahhh, it is that sort of charm and naivete that makes for such engaging music.