I had been anticipating this concert all week. Having never seen a performance at The Casbah in San Diego in the past, I became baffled at the thought. How has such an avid concert goer as myself never been to this venue in the past? Having sat under flight paths towards Lindbergh Field for nearly thirty years, this little venue has never hosted a band I wanted to see enough live. So I guess congratulations are in order to And So I Watch You From Afar, the passionate post-rock band from Northern Ireland for dragging me all the way out to downtown San Diego.
The walls painted red, behind the stage padded in black, and the stage decked with Orange (amplifiers), walking into the Casbah was an interesting experience. One of the more intimate venues I’ve ever been to, the Casbah comfortably stands two hundred people, which nearly as many made their way out that night to see the card. Being such a small venue, I was surprised to see the notable musicians who had played this venue in the past. Ranging from Death Cab for Cutie, to Silversun Pickups, to Explosions in the Sky, this venues known for being host to some of the more popular indie and rock artists in their youth. It’s also a haven for Sargent House, a music label filled with artists suiting this type of crowd. Speaking of youth, the audience was jubilant as they awaited for the show to begin. Ranging from early twenties to early thirties, there were men with their girlfriends, fraternity brothers hanging in the back talking loudly, and loners with their drinks, an expected group of people for such a concert. In the meantime, I stood in the back anticipating the first set of the night: Blis.
A math-rock quartet out of Atlanta, Blis started the night promptly. With vocal styles between screaming and whispering, I wasn’t getting into the first few songs. I wasn’t sure if the sound system was suited for the vocals because all I could hear was the crashing of cymbals and the deep, scratchy bass guitar. Or maybe the vocalist wasn’t singing loud enough? The band played from both their EPs, thanking the audience as every song ended. Having the stage for a half hour, they left with a generally positive impression, even though it was a style of music I would’ve listened to ten years ago. (To be honest, after checking out their music the next morning, I was more impressed. Note to self: Give them more listens and be nostalgic.) You can find them on their Bandcamp page, and follow them on Facebook.
I must admit, I was not particularly paying attention to the setting up for the next act. Standing in a wind tunnel of air conditioning and fans while checking emails and messages for Crash And Ride Music, it wasn’t until the colors in the room changed that I noticed the next act started, the alternative rock band Mylets. I use the word “band” lightly, considering there was one person on the stage, being singer/guitarist/sound manipulator Henry Kohen. It was at this point that my attention was piqued, and enjoyed what was easily the biggest surprise of the night.
Playing songs from both his albums “Retcon” and “Arizona,” this rocker from Indiana drew the audience closer with every song. It even caused me to move from my comfortable, breezy spot in the back all the way to the side of the stage. Not having heard his music in the past, I cannot relay exactly which song he played. What I can tell you, though, is that man is one hell of an entertainer. Dancing around between ten or twenty different guitar pedals and generating different beats on his drum machine, all while playing technical lead guitar sections and singing, each song started with a setup of different sounds. It was almost more interesting seeing him set each song up! Stomping on a pedals one, two… three… four five six times with the purpose of creating the right delays and loops for each song, Henry showed his dedication and passion for his music on stage. The audience was impressed, and so was I.
Once his set ended, I was able to see him breakdown his pedals and equipment. With endless cords woven between different pedals, I was impressed with the amount of technology it took to recreate his sound. I also had the chance to talk with him after the show. An approachable and downright nice guy, I thanked him for what was a highlight of the night. Please support this guy by checking out his Bandcamp page, and by following him on Facebook.
Once 11:30pm hit, the Irishmen graced the stage and began their energetic set. Having read about such a cooperative and lively audience, I was not disappointed with the turnout that night. They danced, they sung, and they enjoyed themselves as And So I Watch You From Afar played an amazing set. Mixing in older and newer material, I particularly enjoyed watching the dual guitar arrangements provided by Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy. The most memorable songs of the night were songs off their latest album “Heirs,” particularly opening track “Run Home” and personal favorite “Wasps.” I loved watching the group chant of the band during the latter, while the audience bobbed their heads to heavy drum beats of Chris Wee. I tried my hardest to get good shots of the band, but they were just as lively as the audience! Jumping around and “axing” their guitars on stage, these guys brought their A-game. You can support ASIWYFA by visiting their Bandcamp page, and by following them on Facebook and Twitter.
I enjoyed every bit of their set, and pronounced this concert to be a major success. Each band left all they had on that stage, giving those attending their money’s worth.
Check out my Facebook page for concert photos!