Those who attended the fourth and final night of Rademacher‘s (Fresno) residency at The Knockout on November 28th also had the good fortune to catch two San Francisco bands bound for higher ground in the coming year.
Here Here, a septet, opened the evening to a packed and sticky legion of fans and friends, and for that alone, they are a booker’s best friend. Their songs ebb and flow amidst the emotive singing of Christian Lyon, which calls to mind the baroque aesthetics of The Arcade Fire and Beirut. Lyon is also quite mindful of defined arrangements as his band evenly contributes isolated spots of violin, piano, banjo and accordion to create affecting crescendos. On the surface, this setup may sound like it could lean towards Americana, Folk, Country or cinematic Pop, but Here Here actually works in understated post-rock rhythms, seemingly more Chicago than West Coast. At one point, Lyon’s delivery and the backing instrumentation reminded me of Shrimp Boat, the precursor band to The Sea and Cake.
Violinist Chloe, was the most assertive of the entourage, and at times singlehandedly maintained the melodic framework of the tunes. The violin is not to be overlooked these days as a mere orchestral side dish when you consider the success of acts like Andrew Bird (playing the Warfield…what?!), Beirut, The Arcade Fire and others who have emblazoned their compositions with the cinematic richness of strings. The music that results can be strange, sad and yet vaguely celebratory.
Overall, Here Here earned a warm reception from the room despite relinquishing its hold on the audience during a few quieter numbers which, to the unfamiliar ear, were a little hard to distinguish from one another. Full harmonies abound, the last few songs seemed to rock out a bit more and set the table for the somewhat louder acts to follow.
The Lovely Public followed, mesmerizing the crowd within the confines of their sparse, off-kilter rhythmic assault. The band brings a psych flavor into the new millennium without poaching riffs or gimmicks from its nascent era. The band’s members are undoubtedly avowed enthusiasts of Syd Barrett, but imagine Barrett as the front man of a mid 90s incarnation of Stereolab at their noisiest with bursts of cosmic echoes, fuzzed out synths and loungey interludes.
Amidst the acrobatic fills of drummer Joe Miller, keyboardist Chris’s sonics and guitarist Jason’s intricate southpaw fingerings, bassist Nacera consistently provides the underbelly of a groove with one of the more bare-boned bass tones I’ve heard in town. The LP’s arrangements shift on a dime from jagged, meandering verses to numbingly repetitive breakdowns, equally stony and unassumingly dancey. As the set wore down, the band bid farewell to Chris (keys/guitar) who was playing his last gig and announced a temporary hiatus from live shows for a few months to work on writing their next full length.
After exhilarating performances from the openers, Rademacher geared up for its final weekly showcase of the month in San Francisco. A buzz band from Fresno would seem a contradictory notion, but Rademacher fulfills their potential, hailing from a region long parched of national indie rock heroes like Grandaddy and Pavement.
The buzz, though, comes in a slightly different flavor here. Singer Macolm Sosa is visibly a heart-on-a-sleeve type of guy, and he and his band are not solely going through the motions, wearing the uniform or worried about the “single”. This is not a skinny-jeaned, tie-on-sleeve kinda band looking for rotation on Live 105.
While Sosa’s vocal phrasings surely resurrect a young Malkmus, his lyrics are much less those of a smart aleck and decidedly more gas station attendant-cum-poet having an internal dialogue with himself on a slow sunny day. On “Not My Home”, off their latest Stunts, he sings: “Well, I’m not very good at relationships / and I’m not even very good at sex / I’m one great big dysfunctional mess / and messes don’t get cleaned up by themselves.” Not a lot of guys can pull off these lines and still sound remarkably blasÃ©. You could probably pass him a cold beer, he’d smile and everything would be just okay. Sosa never tries too hard to sing as does the talky thing more often than not, but this enables him to eschew melodrama, balancing West Coast slackerdom with lighthearted quips about our decaying culture or his everyday life.
Starting at such a full capacity, the KO’s crowd naturally dwindled some by midnight on a Wednesday night, and even the band seemed to inherit some of the sudden, strange departure energy as they took turns breaking strings, leaving the remaining fans with a somewhat abbreviated set. At a few moments during their set that evening, bassist Greer McGettrick held a twenty-five year old toy piano up to her chest and plucked bell-ish notes in the direction of Sosa, who turned and smiled, as if to say ‘this night may have kinda been a mess, but we’re still going to have a good time.’
The band returns to town on December 28 for a CD Release Party at the Rickshaw Stop.