Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jacco Gardner - Janel & Anthony - Lost Civilizations -- 9th & Beats - Mar 5 2013

Lost Civilizations - I am finally attending a show at this recently opened venue, so I'll start first with a few words on 9th & Beats. It is nice sized room (between DC9 + Rock'n'Roll Hotel) with decent enough sound and a wide but not deep stage. There is seating, but mostly standing room. It is a part of a sports bar, but there is a quiet sushi bar hallway like space in between so, there is less bleedover noise than the Velvet Lounge or even Black Cat Backstage. This space makes the bar a little awkward as there is one guy to take orders and then run down to the main bar and kitchen to fill them. That is minor to me, but may affect some. Overall, as you will see, this looks like a successful addition to the club scene.

We begin with this local experimental collective that was five-strong tonight with an emphasis on bass as there was the usual electric paired up with a stand-up bass cello. There was a drummer, violin, and saxophone as well. The first 'song' went for 44 minutes and had a flowing trippy space-jazz feeling throughout. The sax started to dominate a bit, as it often does, but the player pulled it back enough which helped integrate it into a more complete sound (I believe I saw this guy play with Kohoutek at times in years past). The violin was a little too subdued as the percussion was strong and there were plenty of interesting bass moves of course. They did a quick second number which nicely finished off their 55 minute set. This was a good beginning, a sound easy to drift off with.

Janel & Anthony - This cello and electric guitar duo is well worth going out of your way for any time they play. They layer dreamy psychedelic loops for them to add tasty guitar runs and cello leads on top. Both of these players are masters at their instrument, but more importantly gel completely in presenting their sonic thoughts. This is beyond experimental music, since most experiments fail. This succeeded long ago and easily gravitates into any reasonably intelligent music fan's mind. When the cellist sings, it reminds me of the female vocal led songs on Book of AM with its dreamy prog-folk netherworld feeling. There is some krautrock in here, too, perhaps, but the sound is ultimately their own. And they know how to dramatically build to suspenseful points, just as you would want in the theater or at the movies. I am a serious fan of these two and hopefully you will become one as well, if you are not already.
Jacco Gardner - I see they have the term 'baroque pop' on their website, which was also one of the first things I had written in my notes (and in capital letters). I am glad it was not just that I was chatting with Lorelei's drummer tonight who I had seen the Zombies and the Left Banke with last year that led me to think of their ties to classic baroque pop. But this Netherlands quartet takes that genre to new found heights that few bands are capable of getting anywhere near these days. Jacco Gardner is the keyboardist/lead vocalist who leads the band and is supplemented with acoustic guitar, bass and drums. There is a farfisa quality to much of the sound, but all the instruments pull away and combine in a quirky rhythm that takes you back to the sixties when pop music dropped acid for the first time. They also come from the country of the Outsiders and there may even be a little Group 1850 in here, although they are not overly heavy at all. The vocals achieve an amazing delicate balance and few bands treat them as well as these guys do. It reminds me a bit of the Ferdinando-Howell recordings from back in the day. I clearly enjoy a lot of different bands, but when a band has the vocal abilities shown here, they move well ahead of the pack in my mind (and my playlist settings). This is their first time in the states and hopefully they can find the audience that is there for them, even though the audience may not know it yet. Great finish to a fine show.

Quote of the Night: eavesdropping... "That's right--it is socially equidistant between Baltimore and Washington DC."

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