The Make Out Room sits in the center of a hot scene - Cafe's Lolo and Revolution and a mini-park across the street and all - and yet it operates in relative quiet and on its own terms.
One such example - the happy hour show. For whatever reasons, the management often splits the evening between live music early and DJ sets later- the music afficionado's penchant to still be napping or eating before 9:30 be damned.
And so, with two bands I very much wanted to hear at the Plough and Stars at nine, a well-intentioned reviewer such as myself had no choice but to cover two shows.
Sacramento's Fine Steps kicked off the proceedings. They were revealed to be singer/guitarist Julian Elorduy and a vintage keyboard/drum machine.
Despite or because of this stripped-down set-up, Elorduy achieved an atmospheric, muted surf film soundtrack quality and pleased the few assembled insiders, especially the woman behind the sound board.
Mist and Mast has at times been a permanent four-piece, but over the long haul has been primarily the product of main guy Jason Lakis. He wrote, played and recorded the band's self-titled debut, and about half of the second effort, Action at a Distance. The full band that recorded the other half has since reshuffled, with only guitarist Craig Adams remaining. Lakis is back to solo recording with a new album, Mist and Mast Follow a Bad Map, due out soon.
Mist and Mast play an angular, heady, wound-up version of regular-guy indie rock. The tunes are anchored down by persistant hooks crafted from minor chords, half-step riffs and other slightly off-kilter flourishes. But it all makes sense as a backdrop for Lakis' solo vocals.
The place had filled up with enthused fans by the end of their set, but there was little time to savor a good show with a cross-town treck on hand.
A parking place in one of Clement Street's after hour bus zones sped our delivery to The Plough and The Stars, the Inner Richmond's premiere Irish bar (and there are many competitors).
The Harkenbacks, led by guitarist singer Sister Cory Jo Harkenback, were in full set, stoking the wild abandon of several dancing couples and doing just fine against the Plough's raucous conversational din.
In their wake came The Bootcuts, fronted by three female singers. Powered by "Mississippi" Mike Wolf's telecaster, the 'Cuts serve up some honest, unadorned rug-cutting country vocals, equally divided between heartbreak and hootenany.
All three front-women can sing, and together - ahhh, bliss.Tags: Fine Steps, Harkenbacks, Bootcuts, Mist and Mast