Cannons and Clouds
Monday, May 30, 2011
@ Bottom of the Hill
Better than: Stuck on 101, crying into your gas tank.
I'd nearly forgotten about the 2 p.m. start time and that's how my resplendently grubby self wound up standing in the middle of a sonic bombardment at Bottom of the Hill on Memorial Day afternoon. Glancing around at the seventy-odd Potrero Hillbillies turned out for a blisteringly awesome opening set, my spiky hair, filthy denim, and badge-festooned pinstripe jacket hit the precise fashion median, and the hash buzz ingested on the way looked to be a similarly unremarkable state of mind. All of us were as one before the majestic rolling barrage that is Cannons and Clouds.
Folk pop in conception and blunderbuss metallic in execution, this San Francisco sextet's melodic gift is fully evident on last year's After All debut full-length. Since then, they've added seraphic harpist Brittany Gale to an already formidable instrumental mix, and Zachary Blizzard's songwriting takes a lightly psychedelic turn on the recent June EP. Blizzard's fiercely tender vocals rival David Crosby at his most idealistic. This triumphal set loosed a sharp burst of stunned applause, with several lupine howls thrown in as beer began to make people cheerful.
Up next, Scattered Trees conformed to my oft-articulated dictum that the longer the soundcheck, the bigger the disappointment. After such lengthy aural pulling and hauling, these Chicago indie-poppers made entirely generic grieving noises for the requisite three-quarters of an hour before shutting down. Unedified, I bade my photographer find me a suitable medication spot within the thousand-foot rule, so we lounged at the corner of 17th and Texas streets while I inhaled a significant amount of pollen along with the heavy grasses.
This put me in a perfectly receptive mood to take in the fact that the N.Y.C. indie dream pop act I doted on as far back as Citrus has morphed since my last live dose into The Verve 2.0. Now touring in support of fifth album Fluorescence, Yuki Chikudate's voice was in excellent kandified form and the usual whorls and explosions of sheer sound are now channeled into ringing, hooky anthems instead of hallucination maintenance. Flickering strobes helped the hypnotic effectand I noticed there were a few blinks and fresh-wakened starts when the lead singer finally cooed thanks to us for spending Memorial Day inside. After one last flurry of gossamer textures from the band and a few more beatific wails out of Chikudate and we were left to ponder the rest of the fading M-day feeling bright after so much excess in everything but sleep.
In My Head
I'm Happy But You Don't Like Me
Leave The Drummer Out There
Never Understand (Jesus and Mary Chain cover)