(Photo Credit: John Margaretten)
In order to write Craft Spells’ last album, Nausea, Justin Vallesteros had to leave San Francisco. The congested city became too much for him, and he returned to where he grew up, the Central Valley. He eschewed social media and tried to make sense of the Internet’s push and pull, the disconnection that comes from social over-saturation, and also taught himself how play the piano. From that came his sophomore album after 2011’s critically acclaimed debut, Idle Labor.
The last time I saw Craft Spells play was when they were headlining a sold-out show at The Chapel, a night that was also supported by local shoegaze act and friends of Craft Spells, The Bilinda Butchers. The time before was Noisette, a 2012 Noise Pop one-off day-fest at Public Works that combined delicious upscale food stations from places like The Monk’s Kettle and flour + water, with Craft Spells, The Dodos, and Dan The Automator. (Oh hi, this is basically a long shout-out to bring Noisette back, Noise Pop powers-that-be.)
Vallesteros has a knack for never seeming to age past his demographic. He’s soft-spoken in between songs, and has always struck me as being in a similar emotional groove as Tao Lin, a millennial writer known for being hyper-aware of his thoughts and surroundings to an almost painful degree. His headlining show at the Great American Music Hall for Noise Pop on Tuesday was no different, with it being an especially special show because many of his friends and family were in the crowd. The crowd itself was strange for GAMH. Sloppy and young, and manically chatting about Adderall and salvia while underneath the marquee. Kids who looked like they’d be more at home at a certain thrift store in the TL that throws basement shows.
Stand-out tracks included many from Nausea, such as the eponymous first track on the album, “Komorebi”, and “Twirl”.