The Heavenly States
Photos by Agata Kamler

Celebrating birthdays is second to but one thing, celebrating un-birthdays (which are super sweet because you can throw them so much more frequently).  That is unless the birthday in question happens to be the Bay Bridged's birthday.  I'm lucky enough to call myself a staff writer for the...wait - I take that back - Christian, Ben, and Emily call me a staff writer and I've accepted the moniker, but back to the point...I'm lucky enough to get to write with these folks who have great music taste and a sense for prose to match.  Throw in the fact that the Bay Bridged has been around three years now which has given them an opportunity to see the cream of the crop of Bay Area indie music and you've got a great lineup at a great club with some great people.

Being that I write for the Bay Bridged, I knew of the show well in advance, and as a result it slipped my mind to tell my coworkers about it.  My day job boss, who happens to be a good friend of mine, asked, early in the week, what I was doing Thursday.  I told him about the show and he took it upon himself to get as many people in the company (we're a startup so it wasn't like he was running from floor to floor or anything) and anybody else he could muster to go to the show.  Turns out we had a pretty solid turn out, and a couple shots on the company bill ain't a bad deal either.

Geographer

One thing a lot of people don't realize is how awesome Bay Area independent music is.  Geographer hit the stage first.  It wasn't but thirty seconds into their set that a couple of my friends leaned over and said, "Damn Jake, these guys are really good!"  Despite trying to maintain my resolve and not let loose in a fit of giddiness, the only reply I could squeeze out at the time was, "I know, I know, right??? These guys are sooooooo great", complete with high school valley girl inflection.  As I've mentioned in a previous article, cello is a beatiful instrument that should be included in ALL bands, I don't care if it's nerdcore, bluegrass,  or thrash metal.  Like ice cream, there is always room for cello. 

Geographer

These guys may not fit the traditional lineup of a power trio, but they are one hell of a powerful trio.  With only three members they were able to produce a myriad of sounds.  The singer, Mike Deni had not only an assortment of pedals to manipulate with his feet, but a second set his synth ran through that was raised up several feet and which he manipulated with his hands. Nathan Blaz was not only a master of an electric version of the classical cello, but also took care of sequencing/electonic sounds.  As with most bands, everything was held together by the drummer.  In an interesting move, considering their sound,  it seemed most of his sound was acoustic with a relatively limited use of drum triggers. 

Geographer set the tone for the evening, and with all due respect to the rest of the bill, I think that because their sound stood out the most they took away the prize of the most newly converted fans.  Every time I hear "Rushing In Rushing Out" it just melds my heart and mind into some uniform understanding.  I've heard the same can happen from DMT trips, but they way their musical is grounded in reality makes it an entirely different experience from some synthetically infused shenanigans.

Birds & Batteries

Bird and Batteries split the difference in the lineup, coming up to bat second.  I had been looking forward to seeing them after meeting Brian at Bottom of the Hill (and accidentally mistaking him for a member of the Mumlers).  Boy, oh boy did they kill it.  Try to picture this: a set that has everybody smiling and bouncing, and those that aren't smiling are wincing because they're jumping up and down on their bum leg, basically a scene where everyone is having a good time.  That was the scene at Rickshaw Stop whilst Birds and Batteries were playing.  Their sound has an electric tinge on an indie rock foundation.  Just enough to let you know their in with the times, but not enough to distract you from the songs. 

Birds & Batteries

One of their tracks, "Lightning" is featured on the (shameless plug) Bay Bridged Compilation Vol. 2, which happens to be a picture disc as well (they're featured on the "Tree" side), so pick it up in our store.  I found myself alternating between erratic foot stomping to the heavy driven beats and loosely flopping my head back and forth to their more casual interludes.  There is a reason the Bay Bridged selected this band for our birthday bash and if you have any questions about it, you need see them but once live to fully understand.  If Spoon were to have a love child with MGMT while listening to Frou Frou you'd be likely to produce something like Birds and Batteries.

The Heavenly States

The Heavenly States were absolutely heavenly (that one was too easy to pass up).  That is if heaven has amps that go to 11, a fully stocked open bar, and kickin' tunes.  Throw in an audiophile's wet-dream-inducing vinyl setup for good measure.  The United States of Heaven, as I refer to them in private circles, were the perfect closer.  The bill start with the most electronically driven group (Geographer), proceeded to a delicate blend of rock and electro-pop (Birds and Batteries), and concluded with the States' mostly rock, but with a splash of technology, cocktail.  Knee slapping and hand clapping were the order of the evening.  My favorite part of the Heavenly States' would have to be Genevieve's killer rock vocals, and killer female rock vocals are a diamond in the rough.  Don't get me wrong, Ted Nesseth is the core of the group's sound, but what gives them that fifteenth piece of flair (Office Space anyone?) is the rest of the crew.  It's like the saying "Behind every good man is a great woman", in this case it's "Behind every great frontman is a supercrew of musicians."

The Bay Bridged Staff 2009

Being that this was a birthday party, some thanks are in order.  First off, thanks to Geographer, Birds and Batteries, and the Heavenly States, not only for playing a great show but for keeping my faith in music alive.  Thanks to the Rickshaw Stop for allowing us to have the best birthday bash ever, at least until next year.
Most importantly thanks to Emily, the awesomest editor out there, and our two great founders, Christian and Ben. If you run into any of these folks at a show, be sure and by them a round, they undoubtedly deserve it.

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