|Boy meets stage.|
Around 11:20, the main act of the evening, indie pop act The Elected, took the stage. At this point there were about 75 people watching. Frontman Blake Sennett is better known in the music world as the guitarist for Rilo Kiley, but never mind all that! When we approach a new band, we come at it all blank slate. Because that's how we roll.
The Elected was made up this night of three guys --- Sennett with his guitar, a drummer and a keyboardist --- and a talented young lady on keys, steel drums, and violin as the song demanded. The music was slow and melodic, with surfy guitars, soft percussion, slow steel drums, high violin notes, all crashing around Bennett's high-pitched voice. Laid-back, evocative of California in mood perhaps, but actually sounding rather like Belle & Sebastian without the ultra-catchiness, or Beachwood Sparks sans the harmonies.
Bennett, with his emo hair and his pleasant if breathy voice, makes a good frontman, and knows how to reel in the fans with his earnest, story-driven lyrics, feelings all on display ("I was born to love you and I will love you until you love me too;" "You're still as sad as you ever were, selling out to the man you trust"; "Would you come home baby if I take it all back, 'cause I can take it all back"). The multi-instrumentalist on the left in the photo above was very good at each instrument she turned to, and on steel drums or violin carried the entire song's melody. The drumming was subtle and understated, but perfect for this type of music.
The crowd up in front --- younger folks, mostly women and a few clearly gay men --- was eager and anticipatory, as if waiting to dance or make out or possibly both. But they never did. There were a few unrestrained, high-pitched Beatlemania-type squeals, but that's it. Meanwhile, over at the bar, the more usual Dada crowd was talking loudly, uninterested in the band.
The Elected clearly have some kind of spark. R decided he liked it quite a bit, though he thought he wouldn't going in. N just wasn't moved by it all --- perhaps this particular show was too laid-back for him, despite the Belle & Sebastian comparison. Apparently, Sennett had done a solo acoustic set at 8:00 that evening, which we missed, unfortunately; sometimes the more intimate, bare-bones versions are the best way to be introduced to new material.
In sum: Sennett's got a certain kind of mumbly stage charisma (Him: "Dallas, huh? Wow... Uh, nice that you're all here.... [unintelligible muttering]" Fangirl: "Squeeee!"), and he's got a talented crowd of players around him. The Elected's music, if not happy per se, is hopeful and emotional. (One of our notes reads, "summertime hippie gay music.") R would come back to see them, if he were younger, and brought along a certain type of girl. N was indifferent.