Live Review and Photos: Wye Oak, Callers, Gun Runner, and Nothingful Band at the Casbah, March 21, 2011

MP3: Wye Oak – “Civilian”
MP3: Wye Oak – “Warning”
MP3: Callers – “Life of Love”
MP3: Callers – “Heartbeat”
MP3: Gun Runner – “Sweet Tea”
MP3: Gun Runner – “Borderline”

When it comes to opening bands, it’s usually smart to keep expectations low — but on March 21 at the Casbah, getting there early paid off.

To start the night, San Diego’s Nothingful Band played a full set of experimental indie rock. After that, fellow locals Gun Runner once again showcased their formidable musical arsenal. In the Atari Lounge, the keywork of Berklee-trained lead singer Sean Davenport was on full display, perfectly complementing guitarist Tommy Graf’s fierce fretwork.

Like locals Gun Runner, Brooklyn’s Callers are on the fast track to greatness. Sara Lucas’ bluesy singing — combined with ace backing by Don Goodwin and Ryan Seaton — earned the band plenty of enthusiasm from the audience. Callers’ setlist — culled from last year’s Life of Love and 2008’s Fortune — put Lucas’ sparse-but-resonant songs out in the open. Whether Lucas was joining the band on guitar and keys or just singing against the backdrop of Goodwin’s drums and Seaton’s guitar, the trio sounded impressive and full. No matter the instrumentation, Goodwin’s voice is what really rounds out Callers’ sound — emotionally and sonically.

Opening goodness aside, it’s undeniable that most people were there for Wye Oak. The duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack — with Wasner on guitar and vocals and miracle man Stack playing drums, basslines, keys, and synth all at once — has a sound that many larger bands would kill for. Between Wasner’s dark, husky vocals and guitar wailing, Stack’s seamless multitasking, and their combined loud-quiet-loud signature sound, the band blew the audience away; fans who weren’t fully slack-jawed showered Wasner and Stack with adoration, with one concertgoer so aroused that he felt compelled to shout “You’re so hot!” to the world. On a side note, can we get a collaboration between Wye Oak and fellow Bal’merians Beach House?

Spring 2011 marks an exceptional season of live music for San Diego, as band after great band stops by our fair city. Yet despite this musical gratification, those who saw Wye Oak on March 21 will doubtless remember it as a highlight.

Photos: Wye Oak at the Casbah – March 22, 2011

Photos: Callers – March 22, 2011

Photos: Gun Runner – March 22, 2011

Wye Oak and Callers on tour
3/31 - Flying M Coffee - Nampa, ID
4/1 - Kilby Court - Salt Lake City, UT
4/2 - Larimer Lounge - Denver, CO
4/3 - Slowdown Jr - Omaha, NE
4/4 - The Mill - Iowa City, IA
4/5 - Turf Club - St Paul, MN
4/6 - Lawrence University - Appleton, WI

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