It doesn’t get much better than this, a trio of great bands, presented in the stage that occupies the funky joint called The Harley. Three bands playing music from genres that will not cater for a crisp, clear cut sound, but an expansive sound with heavy brushings of reverb, fuzz and overdrive.
Since I’m obsessed with road trips and obscure references, this review is presented as the best levels of Test Drive III : The Passion. Never understimate the lure of driving from the Pacific Ocean to Yosemite Valley.
Our first stretch takes us through the misty Coast Hills, where the sounds of waves breaking against the rocky piers creates a white noise atmosphere, where a faint musical fog envelops the early morning. The road’s clear and it’s Blessa on the stereo. Blessa plays a shoegaze pop that is hard not to like, rising majestically and soaring. ‘Unfurl’ is the tried and true crowd pleaser, ‘Pale’ is the new tale lavishly told to their followers (new and old). ‘Heavens’ and ‘Open Fields’ were gorgeous and two new tracks (untitled so far) are a good omen. Good, relaxing morning drive.
The vistas at Valley Farms are quite pretty, relaxing and somehow imbued with a deep sense of nostalgia. So is the music of Fear of Men, who open their set with ‘Waterfall’, a lovely track that starts only with an isolated vocal and mournful organ notes, inevitably exploding into an emotional quasar. ‘America’ is equally lovely, with more a pace resembling a Foxtrot dance than Charleston. The solo is a thing of beauty. ‘Seer’ is my fave track by them and it was a joy to catch live. The drive just before lunch, with the sun reaching its zenith.
Sierra Vista is a difficult stretch, but if you know how to work your way, you’ll be okay mastering both the the treacherous swerves waiting after the long stretches foolishly let you lower your guard. Veronica Falls live set feels sometimes like a long stretch of road, where you will step on it. Maybe you’ll miss a few details of the scenery and when the time for maneuvers comes, you’ll probably say “oh, shit!” a few times while deftly avoiding and accident. ‘Graveyard’ is the car being overworked, ‘If you still want me (waiting for something to happen)’ is the moment when you are really tempting fate driving as fast as you can whilst howling and ‘Teenage’ is a deft change of gears at a hairpin curve. You come out unscathed and maybe a little exhausted, but, darn it, son, it was worth it.
The ride back home might not be as entertaining as the musical road trip, but the memory remains.
Words & Photos: Sam J. Valdés López.