The Blessings, Low Volts And Spindrift At Highland Park Bowl, Saturday July 7th 2018
The Blessings, Low Volts and Spindrift were playing a special show at Highland Park Bowl in Mr T’s Room on Saturday night, and the theme of the night could have been the old Wild West, since some of the music (especially the music of the 2 last bands) was so cinematic than no screen was necessary.
The Blessings are a classy and classic band led by Jeremy White on vocals, guitar and harmonica, and they played a blues-rock set, often reminiscent of the Stones, layered with a large dose of soul thanks to Lavone Seetal’s howling backing vocals. They had a real coolness on stage and if their music could actually recall many other bands (they have said to have drawn their inspiration from Faces, Black Crowes, the Allman Brothers Band, Tom Petty, Chuck Berry…) they occasional added a touch of country guitar with a very present barrelhouse-bar keyboard. The blues country rock recipe has certainly been done and done since the ‘70s, but the Blessings kept it fresh with vibrant and well-crafted tunes and some stage action like mic stand swinging. They just played a few songs, but all of them appeared deeply rooted in American rock ‘n’ roll, well-served by Seetal and White strong harmonies, that could even go all gospel on us, while the large ensemble kept a steady tempo during all the songs.
Low Volts was a good surprise, an one-man act with a guitar he was driving like an engine-charged machine, and a central large kick drum, that he often used as a perch… the music was bluesy, heavy and swampy with fuzz-out pieces of delta blues slide-guitar and an overall badass attitude, although more playful than aggressive…. Three-time San Diego Music Award winner Low Volts was able to create an unique and very cinematic atmosphere with very little on stage, while his strong vocals were oscillating between early Elvis Presley and a Southern thunder. He kept the crowd on its toes all set-long, with sudden jumps on his big drum, that he was truly kicking to end a song with a rumble. There was something damn sexy and dark in his gritty slide-guitar, and the closest comparison I could come up with, was Lincoln Durham, a solo artist I saw a year ago at Hotel café who is using the same guitar-kick-drum tactic with a raw production, but there was something more kick-stomping-blues-meets-a-stuntman in Low Volts’ performance.
Spindrift headlined the night with a music so cinematic, so soundtrack-ready, that you could almost smell the horses galloping in front of you. Saying that Spindrift makes Spaghetti western music would be an understatement, it transports you right on the saddle for a fantastic ride, scanning Tarentino’s discotheque with a psychedelic wandering production. Unsurprisingly, they have contributed to several film scores, most notably HBO’s‘East Bound & Down’, Quentin Tarantino’s‘Hell Ride’, and Viceland’s ‘Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia’. They also had a few creepy chord progressions during their surf-y rides, while their almost-mute wide-screen soundscapes were injected by singer Kirpatrick Thomas occasionally falsetto, landing right in the middle of the ride, stretching the atmosphere like an Ennio Morricone’s epic production. At the end, this had the allure of a massive spaghetti western rock orchestra, with south of the border excursions à la Calexico, space-y vocals or Hawaiian serenades. If their music had a real fascination for the old Wild West, they were looking at it with mystic sunglasses and a large dose of psychedelia, and we were all watching imaginary cowboys riding away at sunset.