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“The Migration Tour” comes to Stockton

In Entertainment on December 3, 2011 at 1:42 am

Wednesday night the Plea for Peace Center hosted Chris Staples, Gardening, Not Architecture, and the Corduroys.  While sometimes local bands take the stage, this was not one of those nights.  Gardening, Not Architecture and Chris Staples have been on their “Migration Tour” across the country, stopping in Patterson the night before.   While I love my Stockton bands, it was nice to see some music coming out of Seattle and Sacramento.

The evening started as Chris Staples took the stage.  Staples’ music hit me right out of the gate as he sang about Cincinnati and how it has fallen from the beautiful city it used to be.  His lyrics were poetic yet easy to relate to.  There is something compelling about a man pouring his heart and soul out through a guitar and singing.  I can’t really explain it, because its something you can only experience when you’re in the performers presence.  Staples’ words grabbed the crowd by the ear and gently strung it along the same path he walks.

Gardening, Not Architecture was the next performer on stage.  While Staples just was, GNA had a little more show elements to her performance.  To start with there were no lights except for a wall of dancing lights behind her.  There was a laptop set up next to her that played backing tracks as she played bass.  It was quite impressive to see her sing and play all the bass parts with precision.  The music of GNA was melodic, but her voice reminded me of the likes of Veruca Salt or Liz Phair.  Electornic drums, gutiar, bass, and a variety of other bells and whistles came together to form a nice harmony.  While she played all tracks from her first album, “First LP”, she revealed during the set that earlier in the week she had released a second album entitled “Saboteur”.  After hearing her set, I’m excited to hear more.  All of her music is available on iTunes and bandcamp.com.  You can find more information about her at gardeningnotarchitecture.com, as well.

Video courtesy of Brian Bautista

The last band to take the stage was The Corduroys.  They were composed of Autumn Sky, Adrian Bourgeois and Brian Jennings.  All of the memebers hailed from Sacramento.  While they were relatively new as a band, all of them are established as solo musicians.  This brought a different feel to each of their songs, as they rotated through the three songwriters’ set lists.  Autumn and Brian both played guitar, while Adrian swapped between piano and guitar.  Early in their set they had to fight through technical problems but they didn’t let that stop them.  Their voices combined to form a smooth super voice which had quite a bit of texture to it.  As far as musical style goes, I would say that they skewed more towards the country/adult alternative side of things.  While it wasn’t my favorite style of music, their politeness on stage would make it difficult for even Stalin to dislike them.  He could probably do it though, because Stalin was a mean jerk.  The set lasted for the better part of an hour as they played song after song.

Overall the night was fun, and well worth the $5 entry fee.  The Plea for Peace Center continues to draw acts from all over as well as focus on the local scene.  The talent in the room was huge but I was rather saddened that more people didn’t make an attempt to come out.  While the Plea for Peace seems to have a decent turn out for their weekend shows, they do run a variety of shows during the week.  This was a good show that the weekend crowd missed out on.

Plea For Peace Hosts Eclectic Local Showcase

In Entertainment on November 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Kismet Aura shares the positive energy.

Where in Stockton can you see 6 bands for $5? The Plea for Peace Center.  This past Sunday saw Bears, The Village, 5150, A Place Called Home, Kismet Aura, and Godspeed209 take the stage.  This was easily one of the most eclectic shows I’ve ever been to.  The show was like going to a smorgasbord with food I’ve never tasted before.  Each band was a sample of something new, with some tastes preferred over others.

The night started off with Bears.  While I arrived as they were finishing up, what I heard reminded me of a slightly less depressed Craft Spells.  Their synth played upbeats, as their guitarist hammered the same note pattern providing a delight to the ears.

As they stepped off, Village stepped on. This three piece band hammered on staccato rifts as their lead singer sang in a staccato rhythm.  The choppy guitar riffs provided a distinctly different sound.  The band hasn’t been formed very long, but they sound like the infant child of Talking Heads and Interpol.  With music this good, the band is definitely one to keep an eye out for.

Who else does it like Village? No one!

As the night progressed, the music shifted to heavier and harder stuff. While Bears skewed more popish, and Village were more rock-ish, 5150 were deep rifts that bellowed from the stalagmites of caves.  Their style was dark  and varied from fast to almost a slow pause.  The lead singer screamed his lyrics aggressively, and while it wasn’t necessarily my thing, there was a crowd for it.   Their music seemed to have no beginning and have no end with their speeding up and slowing of the gravely rifts.  Young teens lined against the wall playing what seemed to be a twisted game of red rover.  They would thrash back and forth from one side, slam dancing into each other all to the beat of the music.  5150’s lead singer would often hop in with them while singing.  This band had energy, and there is no denying that their music captured the crowd.

A Place Called Home followed them and was a slight step down from the pure aggression that 5150 brought.  I personally enjoyed them more than 5150, as they were able to take the thick rifts and various speeds and turn them into more melodious tunes.   My favorite part of their set was watching them interact with the crowd.  Slam dancing continued as they ripped through their songs with the guitarist, and the lead singer demanding the audience get involved with them.  Again, the band wasn’t really my cup of tea, but if you’re into heavy but melodic rock this might be for you.

As the previous two bands demanded much from the audience, a small crowd huddled around Kismet Aura.  Bob Lame and Kim Eng played drums and guitar respectively. It was a combination that produced songs you could tap your foot to.  These simple but fun songs radiated with intensity, and the guitar provided ambiances that lead the path.  Bob’s intensity on the drums was fun to watch as he trusted himself fully into the beat.  Like a wild man, Bob would sing a phrase repeated as he pounded the set. This would cue Kim to sing another repeated phrase.  With each song the crowd slowly grew, and they were truly a sight to catch.  The guitar evoked a Sonic Youth feel with its waves of chords.  Their voices meshed and sounded as if nothing else was important to say except for their lyrical repetition.  After the set ended Bob and Kim seemed rather unhappy with the performance, but I thought they were great.  If this was an off day, I can only imagine their perfect set.

The last band to take the stage was Godspeed209.  While I’ve only seen them once before, and liked them well enough, I wondered about their ability to headline.  Would everyone see them as worth sticking around for at the end of the night?  My doubt slowly chipped away in just watching them set up.  First came two guitars, which is quite standard.  Next came two basses, which is unconventional.  Then two drum kits were set up.  They didn’t have the two drum kits the last time I saw them, but I knew with RJ Mar as one of the drummers it was sure to succeed.  The band fought reverb a little bit between sets and during spots in songs but handled it like pros.  Tearing into their first song, lead singer John Steiner wasted no time finding his way into the audience.  The crowd seemed rather burnt out on slamming into each other but this didn’t stop Steiner from attempting it.  He let the music over take him as his throaty scream unleashed lyrics. Their early 90’s Seattle sound is like no other band in Stockton.  When I say early 90’s I don’t mean that clichéd happy to be a downer crap.  I’m talking about music that was proud to incorporate the best parts of punk and hard rock to create a fusion that is face meltingly fresh.  Stiener and crew lose themselves in the music and you can tell that they’re having fun.  Time and space doesn’t exist, it’s just fun times playing loud noisy music.  After this performance there is no doubt in my mind that these guys can carry a show.  As time goes on, I hope their fan base builds to prove it.  They at least have one fan who will have his eyes open for their next show.