Monday, March 04, 2013

San Cisco / The Lights @ The Institute, Saturday 2nd March 2013

Just imagine the conversation San Cisco had with the person booking this tour...

Booker: “G’day guys, fancy touring the UK this spring?”

Band: “Spring eh? Sounds good to us, it’s 40 degrees here in Oz and we’re sweating our cobblers off. What’s the weather like in Pommieland?”

Booker: “It’s lovely, trust might need a cardie, but no worries sports”

Band: “Okay, we’ll do it!”

Some weeks later, as San Cisco are chiselling the icicles off their noses (and other body parts too I imagine), they must surely wish they were back in Oz. Yep, it’s still freakishly cold here but, for one night at least, San Cisco bring a little indie pop warmth to the place.

First up though, from closer to home...Stourbridge to be precise...The Lights. The drums seemed to be a little high in the mix for much of their set, which made catching some of the vocals a tad tricky, but the lady Light’s voice is an impressively powerful thang and managed to make it through the sonic mush relatively unscathed. Occupying the sort of ground that perhaps Deacon Blue (ask your granddads) held back in the day they’ve got some really strong tunes, pick of the bunch being the country tinged Low Hundreds, and the pleasure that they clearly got from playing live, to a decent sized audience, was pretty infectious.    

Formed in 2009 in Freemantle, Western Australia (where the temperature rarely drops below t-shirt and shorts weather) San Cisco are fresh from a tour of the US supporting The Vaccines, but this seems to be their first jaunt across the UK. Bless ‘em. A four piece the core dynamic revolves around lead vocalist/guitarist Jordi and vocalist/drummer Scarlet and it’s when this partnership gets going that the magic really happens. From The White Stripes and Blood Red Shoes through to er...Kylie and Jason, the boy/girl thing is a pop staple and San Cisco do it better than many, with Jordi’s more upbeat vocal delivery acting as the perfect foil for Scarlett’s slightly deadpan style. Things kick off with the Scarlett-less (vocally speaking at least) Golden Revolver though, which could almost be a jangly distant relative of The Drums Let’s Go Surfing. Picking up the pace a little Fred Astaire (off current EP Awkward) quickly showcased Scarlett’s skin pounding. There’s something particularly sexy about girl drummers, maybe it’s a Freudian thing...big sticks and all it’s just me...hmmm...either way she makes it look effortlessly easy whilst producing the kind of big, beefy sound that often reduces blokes to a sweaty mess in minutes (mind you it was a touch ‘cool’ in here this evening).

Many of tonight’s songs have an upbeat summertime feel, perhaps with the exception of the most summery titled one of all, Beach, a shimmeringly low key synth driven daydream of a tune punctuated by Scarlett’s hauntingly simple “so far away, so far awaaaaaaay” refrain. Beautiful stuff. It’s the twisted fairytale world of Wild Things and the relationship on the rocks anthem Awkward that show San Cisco at their indie pop best though. Both benefit from Jordi / Scarlett sharing vocal duties with Wild Things emulating Beach’s more dreamy feel whilst Awkward’s a full on New New (that’s new) Wave classic replete with a naggingly catchy da da da da da do do do do do do do singalong chorus and Jordi channelling his inner Davy Jones on tambourine.

There’s an above average mix of styles and influences scattered through tonight’s set, from the 60’s psych tinged Reckless through to the straight ahead Arctic Monkeys-ish rock ‘n’ roll of Stella and, for a first tour, an impressive turn out too. It really doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see some of their best tracks becoming indie anthems, with Awkward practically a shoe in for one of the catchiest hits of the year (yeah I know it’s been out for a while in Oz but it’s new here right?). Get them on this summer’s festival circuit and it could be a San-tastic year for them...

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