It’d been a couple years since I went to the Hotel Utah. I remembered that it was a bit quirky but it really struck me again when I got there. The bar section is fairly normal, but the stage portion is a cavern with benches and seats in nooks, buried at the edges. There’s a pole right in the middle in front of the stage. Above is a mezzanine that is almost on top of the stage; one’s bound to get some neck strain and a good view of the top of band members’ heads from up there.
On a Tuesday at the Hotel Utah, you can’t expect huge crowds, and there weren’t. It seemed there was a mix of regulars, friends of the bands and a few random people.
“If they put 18 minutes of this on an EP, I’d buy it.”
Toromiro was sound checking when I came in. During their last sound check, where they were playing a portion of a song all together, with double vocals, fingerpicked guitar and some crunchy Ace Tone Top-5 organ, I leaned over to my concert buddy and said I was ready to buy their music.
The rest of their set confirmed this notion. They played a nice set of acoustic folky songs (unfortunately marred by some feedback problems). Between the finger-picked guitar and the timbre of the voices, the songs had a subdued and sometimes hypnotic quality to them that was still catchy. The rest of the instrumentation–glockenspiel, harmonica and organ all worked well in the sound. There’s still room for improvement, of course, both in songwriting and performance but I can see this band heading in the right direction. I’m interested to see where they go.
Beatbeat Whisper got set up after Toromiro left the stage. I’d seen them a few times before, the last time being when I presented their show in February. I hadn’t seen them since their newest album, Wonder Continental came out. Their set was almost like I remembered it: Davyd and Ayla switching off on a number of instruments and lead vocals. They encouraged a lot of audience participation. The band has played quite a bit at this point and they showed it; between that and growing up making music together–they’re siblings–their set comes across with a certain amount of polish.
Earlier, I said that their set was almost like I remembered it. The main difference this time is adding a shadow performance element. A screen set up on stage left had slides projected onto it and to this two people added overlaid shadow elements, like stars, birds, or themselves. It added some visual interest to the show.