Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker seems like the most genuine and good-natured individual in indie rock. You could as easily imagine grabbing a beer with the man as you could flying kites with him in your backyard. Not only do his basslines lie underneath Real Estate’s dreamy pools of reverb like sandbags to keep them from floating away and out of reach; he’s also written two of the band’s most easygoing tunes. He’s about as disagreeable as one of those inflatable tube men that sit outside car dealerships and wave around in the wind — you can grimace at the irreverence of his simplistic pleasantness, but he’ll just keep on smiling and drifting.

While only an occasional lead in Real Estate, Bleeker is the commander and captain of the Freaks ship — a band that writes featherweight tunes indebted to the best of roots-rock, akin to The Band if they had performed at family picnics. The Freaks are known perhaps most notably for their Grateful Dead cover gigs — a series of shows they recently brought to Golden Gate Park during this year’s Outside Lands Music Festival. That show was a momentous occasion for the group, who were given a seal of recognition by Bill Kreutzmann himself when he joined them on stage behind the kit. Back to the Bay once again this Wednesday at The Independent, Alex Bleeker and his bandmates return with a set of original compositions.

Country Agenda, Bleeker’s third album under the Freaks moniker — but this time with a more consistent cast of musicians — is sundried folk delivered with a heart of gold. It’s inoffensive, sure, but earnest and endearing. “The Rest,” the lead single and album standout, drifts with an experienced ease, punctuated with precise rhythms that take the lead only when they need to and no more. Bleeker and crew rarely show off on record, instead servicing each song with only what would provide the greatest release at the exact right moment.

2015 was a massive year for fans of Real Estate side projects. Matt Mondanile kept things riffy with his band Ducktails on St. Catherine, meanwhile Martin Courtney stripped down on solo debut Many Moons; both acts taking that distinct Real Estate sound in slightly different directions and exploring new ideas it could yield. Alex Bleeker, however, chased something completely outside of the world of the Real Estate records. It’s still dreamy, but in a different way — fantasizing of simpler pleasures, whether it be sunny days or loves here to stay. Dream on Alex Bleeker, and dream with him by winning tickets to the show on Wednesday — read below for details.

To enter for a chance to win tickets to see Alex Bleeker & The Freaks at the Independent, email with “Alex Bleeker & The Freaks” in the subject line and your full name in the body of the email. A winner will be selected at random and notified via email.

Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, The Mantles, The Range of Light Wilderness
The Independent
December 9, 2015
$15, 8 PM (21+)