A few songs into Friday nights sold out Mercury Lounge's Show, Cayucas lead singer Zach Yudin informed the crowd "this our first show ever in New York City." In fact, it was Yudin's first ever trip to the City. Both the announcement and crowd reaction was tepid. And therein lied the dilemma. The SoCal band was at times too timid, or too reserved, and in the end too damn lax to fully engage/ignite the crowd.
Yudin, his twin brother Ben (bass), Christian Koons (guitar), and Casey Wojtalewicz have made a memorable and entertaining debut record, Bigfoot. It is a vibey, surf sounding pop meditation on Beck, Vampire Weekend, and Weezer. It is full of tongue-in-cheek lyrics sung with sweet harmonies over lullaby-esque acoustic guitars. It goes down nice with a tall glass of lemonade and a Saturday afternoon poolside nap. They even have scored an alt "hit" with "High School Lover."
There is no shame in getting assistance from a quality producer or computer. The best artists have done it (Beatles- Sgt Peppers for instance.) Take a look at the top 20 songs in America right now. Half probably use auto tune, right? How else can you explain Jason Derulo's career? The trick is to reinvent the studio work into something fresh, inventive, and daring on stage! Get into it! Do a cover if your only have 8 or 9 songs. When you do play your "hit" make it a stand out! Be excited! Be overwhelmed to be there! Never take it for granted and always perform as if it might be your last time on stage.
Yeah, it is hard work! It is why there are only a handful of super successful rock bands/artists in the ever changing landscape that is pop music. In the blink of an eye you can go from the early show at Mercury Lounge to disgruntled hipster barista.
These kids are at the tail end of their biggest tour in easily their biggest year. They have only making music together for about 18 months. So far, so pretty darn good.
The critics adore their debut and without question they will end up back in NYC this fall. Look for them at a bigger venue like Webster Hall or Bowery.
Improvement is required before they hit a grander stage. Too often their songs sounded too familiar from one to another. My favorite tune, "Cayucos" was too up tempo and never found a great stride. By the time they played "High School Lover" (which the audience was begging for 2 songs in) the crowd seemed ready to hit the exits. They got what they came for, although deserved more.
We get the SoCal laid back attitude, really we do. But this is NYC damn it. If you don't bring 100% there is another band begging, clawing and scratching to fill your spot. Downloads alone will not pay the rent in this day and age. Unless of course you write "Gangham Style" or some shit.
|Cayucas, Mercury Lounge 7.5.13|
Canadian born and New York based Jessie Marchand (stage name: JBM) opened the evening. Ge was alone with an acoustic guitar, harmonica and big voice. His music felt like Neil Young Harvest album with a touch of Ryan Adams. Other than stand up comedy it is difficult to find a more ballsy thing than getting on stage alone and performing your own music. No bandmates. No nets. No one else to blame if/when things go wrong.
JBM was thankful to be home after what he intimated was a pretty trying tour. The rigors of touring can beat a man down. There must have been a few crowds/venues that were more raucous than this receptive and polite NYC crowd. It was silent! He was thankful and was more than competent. His act is more coffeehouse than rock club. His classical guitar filled, heart wrenching ballad that ended his set was an odd choice too. It draped the night in gloom which was somewhat unfortunate for both his, and Cayucas sake.
They both may have deserved better. Good news though! They can only go up from here.
For a sample of JBM check here.
|Sold out crowd stands to the music.|
|Mercury Lounge is always good on sound.|
Gentleman, please leave your backpacks at home when you head out for a show. Ladies, you get something of a pass, but you should probably have a small purse only if truth be told. What the hell could you have in those bags? You need your id, a credit card, some cash, and maybe keys. That is it! Should you need smokes, lighter and/or other drug paraphanalia you should allow for the necessary pockets. NO! BACKPACKS! EVER! Simply put you forget they are now part of your body. And you can't control that shit. Soon they are banging into open beers and womens' breasts and just about everywhere. Keep them home and pack smart. When the show is over you can go back to strapping it over your shoulders and doing your best Zach Morris.
Should we put age limits on them? After 18 backpacks can only be permitted on college campuses?