They were a really likeable pair and came across as a couple of sweet, confused hippies - complete with beards and barefeet. "…You all look like very nice people. Actually… I can't see any of you… never mind." Their sound consisted of a lot of atmospheric instrumentals, which was enjoyable without being anything special musically.
Micah P Hinson was next onto the stage and had come all the way from Texas to be with us. Refreshingly though, this Texan didn't want to start a war with a third world country and steal their oil; he just wanted to play a few songs. And he played them very well. Although some songs had a tendency to lurch into excessively long periods of 'atmosphere' (also known as 'noise') this actually benefited the songs. I think Beavis and Butthead hit the nail on the head when they described this Radiohead-esque style of music. "Without the bit that sucks – the cool bit wouldn't be as cool". So true.
Hinson didn't do much talking though and didn't even introduce himself before he started playing. However, he overcame any initial nerves and won over the audience with his unique voice and charming persona. His new recording, called The Baby and the Satellite, has been compared to Bob Dylan – which is, admittedly, taking it a bit too far. It's still good stuff, however.
|Micah P Hinson|
The headliners, Vetiver, came on stage to rapturous applause. Vetiver is essentially Andy Cabic (vocals) and pretty much anyone who cares to join him on the night. Tonight, he was joined by, amongst others, Devendra Banhart (the weird guy who recently appeared on Jools Holland). Although not officially insane, Banhart is as about as close as you can get. The highlight for me was his fairly lengthy monologue about 'wolphins' - apparently a cross between a whale and a dolphin. "They actually exist!" he declared with a childlike enthusiasm. It's impossible not to like him.
Vetiver have a beautiful sound and they have clearly been influenced by artists such as John Martyn and Fleetwood Mac. Indeed, they did a cover of Fleetwood Mac's Save Me a Place. Cabic has a soft, velvety voice and is perfectly complimented by the rest of his acoustic ensemble.
All in all, it was really inspiring stuff. The audience was a great mix of different ages and the atmosphere at the City Varieties was, as always, fantastic. It really is a great place to go and see live music.
The evening was also completely unpretentious. In fact, I didn't see a single 'new age mullet' all night.
It's great to see that there are still bands out there who aren't just in the music industry for the image and the posturing. This is what it's all about.