June 16th was my first time seeing a show at Cattivo. Crystal Stilts and Juan Wauters (of the Beets were playing. A third touring band called Your Friend got added near to the date of the show. It's weird to have three touring bands, and I wasn't that excited to see Your Friend based on the name of their band, but I was willing to give them a chance. Despite a lot friends exclaiming their love for Crystal Stilts, I couldn't convince anyone to go with me to this show. I was mostly alone for this one, but it turned out to be great regardless.
The only local band, City Buses, played first. City Buses was pretty cool, playing some perky indie/rock 'n' roll; I really liked the keyboard lines. Near the end the keyboard played long warbling notes, but the guitar and drums rarely changed. Things started off strong, but by the end I had become disinterested. Perhaps it was that the songs all seemed to have the same tempo? Perhaps I was expecting a more Gotobeds-style punk (as that band features some of the same members)? Or, and maybe the most significantly, the audience lacked any interaction with the band, staying way back behind the bar the whole time. At a venue like Gooski's or Howlers, City Buses would be cool to see, but this really didn't do it for me.
Your Friend was next. After seeing the band, the name made a lot more sense. The quiet frontwoman, Taryn Blake Miller, had a voice that covered the room like a quiet, but ethereal purr. She didn't look at the audience, appearing nervous, cold, and also powerful. Her guitar lines were subdued, but carried a lot of bite at times (also look at the strange pattern on the guitar body!). The music was bleak, but comforting; it reminded me of Young Marble Giants or Beach House. Because everyone is seemingly lame, they stayed in the bar while Your Friend played. I ended up buying their EP, Jekyll/Hyde, and I listened to it at least five times a day for the next week. Check it out here: http://www.dominorecordco.us/usa/eps/18-02-14/jekyllhyde.
Juan Wauters played next, and it was he that I came to see. For his set the stage lights were turned off, replaced by an elaborate, but simple, and almost amateurish, visual display. On Wauters' left there was a sheet adorned with images from recent releases, American flag, and other such things. On his left he had a lighting display that lit up seemingly at random. The microphone also held two lights that were operated in an unknown manner, turning on/off with or without the beat. His set was stripped down, being just vocals and guitar, except for the few songs on which he was accompanied by bongos. There was a small piece of a Velvet Underground song that abruptly morphed into original material. A few people actually came out of the bar area to watch his set.
After the set I got Juan to sign his 7" and solo album. He wrote some interesting stuff (see below). We talked about the Andy Warhol museum, how he liked to change his songs up each night (the bongos), and then he offered to buy me a drink. I'm straight edge so of course that didn't happen, but I told him I would come hang out in a minute.
I went outside for a second, but Crystal Stilts had just started when I came back in. They had a film projecting onto them, driving scenes in psychedelic colors. There set was dark, shoe-gaze, lo-fi, nearing goth. The singer reminded me of Ian Curtis; he rarely looked at the crowd. They had some synths and some cool guitars (Vox). The whole crowd actually watched Crystal Stilts, renewing the room's energy for what could have ended up being a very cold set otherwise. Despite being a little bored by the one record I had heard by Crystal Stilts, by the time they were done I wanted way more. I bought some CDs and a t-shirt. It's all very good.