It was a great night to finish up the 2011 Season of Music in Mears concerts. 3 acts were on the lineup and they were great. The Katie Todd Band was up first, and they reminded me of Ingrid Michaelson, with a mix of shoe-gaze-y singer-songwriter music and energetic jam band funk. The eponymous singer had a strong voice, although I wanted her to push harder–it felt like at many of the climaxes, where i expected her to let our a roar, she plateaued, but she was strong, and her band was solid. It was a lot of fun to watch her bassist and her drummer play off of one another. Her bassist was awesome, throwing in lots of flourishes and runs that played around on the edges of the songs adding complexity and depth without derailing the rest of the groove.
The second act was either Dead Peasants or Jef Lee Johnson & Friends. I think it’s the same people, but there was confusion about which incarnation was at the event. Anyways, the group is kinda hard to genre-ize, as some of their music felt like straight up contemporary jazz, while other songs were like avant-garde rock, while some felt like being at a psychedelic JImi Hendrix concert. They covered an impressive amount of genre ground in an hour. The lead guitarist (Jeff lee Johnson?) was astoundingly good. He went from playing Earl Klugh-esque riffs to shredding like Slash, and hit many notes in between. I was shocked. I have never heard of the guy. His drummer was on point, adding bits and pieces of sound and rhythm all over the place. He seldom sat still or just rode the beat. Finally, his bassist was amazing. His solos, which were too few!, were just breath-taking, and he would just create a funky beat and sit in it for sections, and it was hard to not just get up and hug the man after their set. I had a lot of fun listening to him especially.
The final act of the night, and the season, was local artist Haley Bonar. She was exceptional; literally radiant on stage. She was accompanied by a fantastic guitarist, whose name i have forgotten, but his playing was a great complement to hers, generally adding washed-out, distorted, plaintive accents to her own guitar and voice work. Ive been following Haley for years and years, since learning she was a South Dakota native too, and have seen her live a couple times in the Twin Cities, and this was by far the coolest concert of hers I have seen. She forgot the power cord to her Wurlitzer, so she played the entire set on guitar, which was absolutely fine by me.
I particularly enjoyed “Green Eye’d Boy,” “SIlver Zephyrs,” & “Kid October” but she played a lot of great songs.
The only downside to the set was the swarm of little kids who decided it was cool to have an “i need attention” fest directly in front of Haley, so much of my footage is marred by children running in and out of frame over and over, and screaming. It was cute for about 15 minutes, then i wanted to throttle their parents. Oh well. I will add some videos if I got any decent ones, over the weekend.