Photos by: Nicole Browner
Drinking beer with ice and having nothing for sale, Sacramento’s English Singles opened the night and tore through a short but very satisfying set of sweet pop ditties. The lead singer cut loose on the last song to dance around a bit, a nice surprise as the other members seemed a little green. The band is young but very tight and they have quite an albums worth of catchy, infectious pop. We desperately await that release.
Antartica Takes It! (Oakland) was hands down the cutest band of the night. In fact, they may be the cutest band of all time, and I mean that in a good way. All five of them looked fresh outta band camp, oozed the energized exuberance of youth and wore serious perma-smiles. The male vocalist swapped guitar for ukulele, while the uber cute female vocalist brought fresh style and delivery to the wonderfully wordy ballads a la Belle and Sebastian. The whole band was psyched to be playing and said so repeatedly, as it was apparent this was only their second performance with the current line-up.
Q: What is the sound of a sinking ship?
Of the four-band almost entirely Bay Area bill, veterans Nodzzz looked the most comfortable on stage. They joked with the crowd about British Petroleum then asked someone to “say something about time” before launching into their song “Time.” I couldn’t think of anything except the lyrics to Richard Hell’s masterpiece by the same name. Later Nodzzz managed to completely rework the Byrds classic “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star” — well done, and a deserving tribute. Still seemingly unwilling to play “SMK MRJWNA” for me, they did play “In the City (Contact High),” as well as many other faves including “Indian Town” and “True Life”.
Despite recent shows with a full band, Owen Ashworth aka Casiotone for the Painfully Alone came on alone but with no less than 6 electronic gizmos. Painfully alone he was when one of the drum gizmos malfunctioned. Two battery changes later he gave up on that particular drum beat for another and moved on. He played “New Years Kiss,” a beautiful Bowie-esque number and another tune that channeled Bright Eyes. He was unable to come up with my request for some Eno, instead we got an obscure Springsteen cover, “Streets of Philadelphia” (from the 1993 Jonathan Demme film, Philadelphia). I’m not ashamed to say I was a huge fan of the Boss when Born to Run came out…but I was a bit ashamed at age 14 when Born in the USA came out. With no shame at all, CFTPA closed with an improved version of Paul Simon’s overplayed “Graceland.” Quasi world music never sounded so pop; a surprisingly great finale for Popfest Day 2.
Antartica Takes It!