@ The Whistle Stop Bar & Cantina in San Diego, CA.
Legendary San Diego venue has seen some shows. Here are the last two shows I went to:
Dirty Beaches & Jeans Wilder published on April 1st, 2010. (SHOW REVIEW)
Best Coast, Pearl Harbor(Puro Instinct, Beaters published on July 19th, 2009. (SHOW REVIEW)
So that's where I'm coming from, when I review this show. I can't even remember the last time Mario booked a band at the Whistle Stop- I think Jon Greene said that it was the Plateaus record release part a year ago. I can remember for the prior two shows- Best Coast and Dirty Beaches? I was actually excited beforehand, and I had a similar feeling on Friday night.
Why I am excited? Well, I'd prefer not to elaborate too much. DIVERS and CATHEDRAL X both have numerous advantages in the market place, most notably the support of a record label and mastered material "in the can." Oh wow, that's already more support of 99.9% of "local" bands.
Then there is the music itself. I'm more of a DIVERS man than CATHEDRAL X, and I know writers are not supposed to play comparison games according to sensitive Artists, so it's hard to write a review where they were playing back-to-back. I'll tell you the crowd was larger for DIVERS, who played first. I think some of that is just attributable to the timing of the Friday night South Park bar scene.
Here is what I said about the Audience at the Whistle Stop for this kind of show, written in 2009, when I reviewed Best Coast's first San Diego show, it's exactly as true now as it was then:
Are these the people who show up on a saturday night at the Whistle Stop? Half the people ignoring the music, half the people paying attention. That's the way it has always been here, that's the way it always will be. Fine with me- easier to actually see the bands. Of the people that were there to see the music I recognized maybe half of them and some were down from LA to see the first two bands, others seemed to be new- (guy wearing a k records/beat happening t shirt I'm looking at you.)
Certainly, the attention level of the people who were there indicated that there was some local interest in this show among local amateur music enthusiasts. It ought to emphasized what a minority enthusiasts for this brand of music represent in the local area. There are perhaps 75 people who attend these shows with any kind of regularity.
That is the way it will always be here, and there is freedom in invisibility. It's the Roman style freedom: "Freedom FROM." In San Diego, the artists and their fans are ghosts, walking amongst the citizenry unnoticed in between tanning plastic surgery freaks and american idol finalists. Two things that San Diego is "not" is a place where a local musician can achieve fame and notoriety amongst the locals or a place where the locals "care" about interesting local music. Trust me about that. (2009 SHOW REVIEW)
So that was exactly the case last night, in case you were wondering. No progress. Doesn't matter, though. A lot of people were out, half of them were paying attention. I like it when bros come over to watch the band and look badly misplaced, I actually think that is an interesting phenomenon about the Audience segment consisting of "bros looking to score." What you get, though, is an Audience, for Artists have that little or no Audience of their own.
I doubt the case it will be like that forever for either Cathedral X and Divers, provided they commit to playing shows and putting out music. It certainly didn't turn out that way for Best Coast or Dirty Beaches. I'm just using those Artists as examples because those are the last two shows I've seen at this venue, not because I think there is any specific comparison between those Artists and these Artists. It certainly is, at the very least, 2-3 years later, so it's a "different time" even if it's the "same place."
One of the attractive features of Divers performance is that there was a real progression and build of emotion during the set- sort of a building of tempo? That you often don't see with newer bands.
Divers will make progress when people can listen to the songs on Spotify or whatever- when Artists put out recordings of strong songs, they can begin to create the feedback between Artist and Audience that inevitably results in bigger Audiences.
Cathedral X is a different thing. What I like about them is the combining of a very distinct and formal visual presentation (they have a costume wearing dancer as a member of the band.) but the song structure and lyrics are experimental/improvisational. This is not a band, 2, 3 years ago that I would have expected to keep the Friday night bar crowds attention, and some people walked off, but people were watching, which is a tribute to the sophistication of the Audience.
I can see where people wouldn't find it "musical" enough to warrant attention, but if there is one thing that I have learned about contemporary music is that there is plenty, plenty, plenty of room on the musical fringes. Maybe more room there then there are in more well established musical styles.
I think Cathedral X needs to have more then a song or two out before they contemplate touring- they will want to make sure they have an Audience for the theatrical elements of their live show. On the other hand, Divers can pursue a more tour intensive approach. I liked having it as a two piece, and I'd be interested in seeing a three piece, but there is no need to hold up shows in places like LA or SF fiddling with the line-up. Most importantly, Divers touring as a one piece or two piece is simply more efficient then touring as a three or four piece.
If you can tour as a one or two piece that puts you ahead of all the bulkier acts- like you are starting further down the road. I'd like to see a Divers, Yohuna tour booked by Cory Stier this summer. That would be dope. DIY style.