Saything / The Hairbrain Scheme / Good City Lie Still
El Rio | San Francisco, CA | April 16, 2008
The beloved El Rio opened its doors to a selection of talented Bay Area acts spanning the rock spectrum. The show opened with Oakland prog-rock group Saything, followed by the popular pop/alt-rock band The Hairbrain Scheme from San Francisco’s Outer Sunset District and concluded with the modern rock sound of Santa Rosa’s Good City Lie Still.
A blaring trumpet introduced the first of many schizophrenic songs from Saything. Layered with odd tones and aggressive riffs, the band’s set exuded a level of artistic angst and chaos; however it could have benefited greatly from some level adjustments. Nate Mahem’s bass overpowered most of the other instruments, draping a heavy mid-range fog upon the overall sound. Despite these audio issues, Saything displayed strong musicianship, particularly in their quieter moments where singer (and drummer for The Aimless Never Miss) Winston Goertz-Giffin’s characteristic vocal grit and growl could clearly shine through.
The crowd thickened and enthusiastic catcalling erupted as The Hairbrain Scheme took the stage next. The former Santa Barbarans opened a cappella with “Walking,” an incredibly strong and catchy song overflowing with vocal polyphony. The energy remained high as they progressed through their set, even encouraging the formation of a raucous mosh pit. All four members exhibited extraordinary showmanship, particularly vocalist Grant Parsons who spastically spun and danced about the stage to the upbeat tunes. “How do we sound?” Parsons asked. “Louder!” the audience replied. The Hairbrain Scheme made this their night, and it was evident that the crowd was plenty pleased.
Closer Good City Lie Still’s driving rock and spacious effects filled the room with energy, albeit a different type of energy than that of the previous act. The audience connected on a deeper, quieter level as the Sonoma County band displayed a sense of seriousness in its songs. The occasional switch from guitar-based rock to piano added variety to the set, and Good City’s instrumental sound was excellent, with perhaps the most balanced bass tone of the night — round and deep like a heartbeat. Andy Pohl’s Tele Deluxe provided great presence and clarity to even his grittiest riffs. Sadly, the heavy mid-range in (cousin of Winston) Ross Giffen’s vocal mix made distinguishing lyrics virtually impossible. Giffen’s commendable vocal presentation was not lost, though, and his occasional falsetto over Pohl’s relentless crunch elevated Good City’s songs in a sweeping fashion.
El Rio is a venue capable of separating the nuanced from the new: experience provides the ability to perform well even under the most mired circumstances, and all performed well indeed.
-Review by Keane Li; photo by Cassidy Williams (more…)
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