Sugar & Gold
Words by: Jake Butler
Photos by: Reid Williams

So whoever read from us at the Bay Bridged that you should go to Happy Hour – I simultaneously love you and forsake you. Come Friday, I swung by to catch Tempo No Tempo, along with cohorts Maus Haus and Sugar and Gold. I was at Bender’s on Tuesday and don’t get me wrong, there was a solid size crowd, but on Friday it was wall-to-wall. When some friends came to meet me they were stuck in a one-out-one-in line. I felt bad for them because they were missing the alterna-indie-electro-R&B-soul-dance-rockin’ show once they crossed the threshold. I squeezed my way on up to say “what’s up” to Christian and Ben and give them a high five for the good turn out.

I ended up doing one of those dance walks where you move three steps, stop, dance for a minute, rinse and repeat. Sugar and Gold had silk lined, gold trimmed, sequins laden sound to them. If that doesn’t get you up and on the dance floor I’m not sure what will. Their bass player was laying down some great funk lines and the beats were phenomenal.

I ran into Mike Deni from Geographer and looked like he was having just as good a time as me. His assigned mission for the evening was to not lose his friend in the mix.

I ducked out a bit early to dodge the madness, and also because I was forewarned that the Ra Ra Riot show at the Independent was sold out and I absolutely had to get there early to get in. I heeded such advice and made the trek down to Divisadero and Hayes.

I roll in just in time for Telekinesis out of Seattle. According to the guys in the band, there is an abundance of lambs on on the drive down, and one fella from Telekinesis describes our barnyard friends as “nature’s blanket.” Telekinesis had a sound that can only be described as Seattle meets SF indie rock. The rockin’ heritage of Seattle thrown in with the hipster pop sensibility of the bay (yes – it’s there, stop being aloof of it and just embrace it, it’s not a bad thing).

The big attraction of the evening was Ra Ra Riot, who had just played earlier in the day for an acoustic set (which I sadly missed). Whether you lump them in with the likes of Arcade Fire or Vampire Weekend, seeing these guys live bridges the connection of music and soul.

As I’ve said before, cello makes any band better, compound that with the fact that you’ve got a gnarly shaped electric cello plus a violin and you’ve got severely dilated pupils on my part (because I’m trying to focus on the awesomeness).

You instantly realize why this show is sold out – people dancing, heads bobbing, and much more than a handful of voices singing in unison as amateur live accompaniment.

When you see all six members of Ra Ra Riot side by side onstage at the Indie (the sole exception being the drummer who, due to the laws of physics and spacial arrangement, finds himself aligned slightly behind the other five members of the group), it is quite an overwhelming sight.  Especially when you hit a solid riff and vox drop out. All five of the frontline embrace their own particular post-modern interpretation of the waltz  and rock the fuck out.

The band consistently teetered on exploding, but always maintained a calm coolness that kept us fans focused on the music. Their sense of arrangement is impeccable.  Single-mindedly lacing together their individual parts, these guys and gals are all masterful musicians.

“Suspended in Gaffa” definitely got me singing along. It’s one of those songs I like to include on a walk-to-work mix, as it undoubtedly gets me in a good mood. You could tell everyone in the crowd knew the words to “Each Year” as it quickly turned into a collective karaoke paaarrrttttaaayyyy.

“Too Dramatic” (?) was a special new number that hooked me, towed me in, damn near skinned me and cooked me for dinner. It was a great new song that shows this group still has a ton left in the gas tank.

Favorite Moment: Lead Singer Wes Miles (Ra Ra Riot) repeatedly complementing the lightwork of the evening. Good job Independent.