Touring with Junip are two opening acts who were really remarkable: I was so happy to discover Barbarossa and the trio On An On.
London-based James Mathé calls himself Barbarossa (he does indeed have a red beard--or rather moustache, and regular readers with good memories know that I have quite a thing for gingers) and was a perfect opening act.
Thoughtfully starting at 7:45, it was Barbarossa on electronics, triggering hypnotic loops and beats, crooning away in a sweet, blue-eyed soul style... he even brilliantly covered the Terrence Trent D'Arby song "Wishing Well" from the 80s, transforming it into a twisted, ambient 21st century expression of intense emotion. His entire set--too short in my opinion--was highly engaging and left me wanting to hear more.
Here is the video for his poignant single "The Load" from his forthcoming release "Bloodlines" due to drop in August. I'm looking forward to buying it and putting it on repeat for a week or so...
On An On, a trio like Junip, were formed from the remnants of the break-up of Chicago-based band Scattered Trees.
Current On An On members Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing crafted their lovely, echo-filled dream pop while projected swirly, abstract graphics danced on their bodies, faces, and instruments. It was a set by turns lilting, uplifting, and darkly powerful.
And I am a new fan... I downloaded their new release "Give In" which features their anthemic single "Ghosts," seen below.
I was excited when Junip took the stage. José González (vocals, guitars), Elias Araya (drums), and Tobias Winterkorn (organ, Moog synthesizer) were supplemented by three other musicians, including our Barbarossa who did back-up vocal and rhythm section duties! The Junip set did not disappoint at all: they opened with "In Every Direction" (a song I fell in love with here) and continued on with other favorites like "Without You" (previously here), "Rope and Summit," and nearly every song from their new eponymous release including "Line of Fire" (here) and "Your Life, Your Call." And I was quite happy to hear them begin the sublime "After All Is Said And Done" for an encore. But I was surprised when the song took a rather Sigur Ros-esque turn and built to a profound, grand crescendo. Very different from the recorded version, and a nice interpretation for a live performance.
It was wonderful to hear José's delicate voice in person, and the group played perfectly. My only quibble is with the sound mix... there was too much reverb on José's mike which detracted from the natural quality of his voice. And the mix was a bit muddy with the bottom approaching distortion, drowning out the band's trademark hazy, gauzy, intimate sound. I missed that feeling, but enjoyed what they presented anyhow, despite the sound mixer.
They are still on tour in North America. Check out their website to see if they will be near you!