Noise Pop 2012: The Fresh & Only's @ BotH

Halfway through their set, The Fresh & Onlys‘ frontman Tim Cohen said, “I’d like to dedicate this song to James Kim,” referring to their sometime second percussionist (their first being Kyle Gibson), who they often borrow from Kelley Stoltz‘s band. And then he launched into “Be My Hooker.” That was not the first song Cohen had dedicated to someone that night, nor would it be the last. It might, however, have been the only joke he made all evening. (I’m fairly certain, for example, he wasn’t kidding when he asked at the end of the show if anyone had any weed.)

But no matter. Jokes aren’t what The Fresh & Onlys are about. They are about good, honest, well-written garage psych that could make the most stalwart concert attendee want to headbang, just a little bit. Oh, and solid musicianship. This year marks their fourth appearance at Noise Pop, and the first time headlining, and the ample crowd at Bottom of the Hill opened their loving arms to their grimy/sunny pop.

The band, which consists of Shayde Sartin on bass and Wymond Miles on guitar, in addition to Cohen, Gibson, and, occasionally, Kim, wove a diverse sonic tapestry drawn from the various albums they have released over the years, from their self-titled debut to Grey Eyed Girls (“Invisible Forces,” “The Delusion of Man”) to last year’s Play It Strange (“Waterfall,” “Summer of Love”), as well as selections from the August in My Mind and Secret Walls EPs (including “Dreaming Is Easy” and “Secret Walls,” respectively). Word has it that they’re also in the process of finishing a fourth album for Mexican Summer.

For the closer, “Peacock and Wing,” Cohen pulled a blonde, long-haired beauty on stage, whom he introduced as his friend Dre (maybe?), and who layered her soprano over his infectious baritone line. Know this: If time could be measured by Tim Cohen’s skyward gaze, it would pass, well, dreamily.

Co-headliners Disappears, who preceded The Fresh & Onlys, are the best band I had never heard of before agreeing to go to this show. And perhaps the nicest? Listless while waiting for my friend to arrive, I decided to pass the time in the area behind the stage outside, and unwittingly bummed a cigarette off the band’s bass player, Damon Carruesco, who humbly obliged. They didn’t look that nice onstage, though. They looked serious. And they sounded seriously good.

The band spit out song after song of their signature mix of shoegaze, krautrock, and garage rock. I can almost imagine the Noise Pop planning board tapping their conspiratorial fingertips together at some long table in some low-lit room, plotting to blow the collective minds of the San Francisco concert-going community by pairing our local darlings’ jangle with the visiting band’s drone for one epic evening of garage-influenced music.

My only complaint about the night? That it didn’t last long enough.

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