Live: The Wild, You Blew It! and The Front Bottoms

I was nervous heading to The Crepe Place for what I thought was going to be an indie/folk show. My fears were assuaged while I was waiting in line, chatting with Annie about who she was there to see. The Front Bottoms are a punk band? *relief washes over me* So with my hopes renewed, I entered one of my favorite venues to see You Blew It!, The Wild, and The Front Bottoms.

Tanner Jones - You Blew It!Once the show was underway, there was no stopping the excitement and comfort of the bands performing at one of Santa Cruz’s most hospitable venues. Two songs into their set, You Blew It! declared it the best show in a long time, and got the whole crowd interested in their jangly, harmonious post-punk.

Then came the moment I was afraid of…

The word ‘folk’ means a lot of different things, depending on your age and experience. For American hipsters listening to the folk/americana of The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men and Mumford’s various offspring, it’s a return to an older aesthetic and way of doing things. For the older generation, it is a celebration of the great things that have come before.

Kylee Kimbrough - The WildFor the members of The Wild, it is an archetype to fit themselves into. They are a continuation, a generation removed, from what has been a progressive lineage. Woodie Guthrie sang the newspaper, Bob Dylan sang as if he were a character in the story, followed by Springsteen etc. This is key to The Wild’s sound, because they aren’t retro revivalists; they are folk music for the post-punk generations. When I spoke to Witt (vocals/guitars) after the show, that is exactly what he explained to me.

Because it’s confusing when the only band on the bill with a folky sound can get the crowd moving better than the headlining punk band; at least on paper. In the moment, though, when Kylee Kimbrough is a whirlwind of drumsticks, Dianna is guiding your feet with the tambourine and the boys (Witt, Steve and Dakota) are plucking up a storm, it all makes sense. This is music about being alive, and being alive is best when it’s emotional, passionate and honest. Which is why I am able to speak so positively of a folk band in 2014.

Witt - The WildDakota (bass) was explaining to me after the set that the band is spread out all across the US. I asked him how the band stays together despite living in San Francisco, Brooklyn, Atlanta and North Carolina. “We’re family,” he says. It’s a cliche, just like most folk music these days, but is it cliche if I believe him?

Because when The Wild get going, there is this sense of comraderie that goes beyond the working, full-time musician professionalism. The smiles and eye contact after a song, the comfort despite being shoulder to shoulder in a small venue, and the willingness to be free and expressive when you don’t have to be are all hallmarks of being yourself around people you can be yourself around. Isn’t that what family is?

The Front Bottoms

 

I was disappointed I couldn’t see The Front Bottoms in top form, as Brian Sella (vocals/acoustic guitar) was sick as a dog. That said, these gentlemen put on a hell of a show, with the whole crowd singing along to every one of their tunes. I wasn’t acquainted with The Front Bottoms before attending, but their brittle guitar tones, dancy rhythms and painfully personal lyrics won me over to another band blazing its own path.

By the end of the night, I was amazed at what a great match these bands were for each other. Go catch them in your town if you can.

 

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