H8R, Briana Marela, Cassiopeia: Oct. 20 at make.shift

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 chance to see H8R is always a rare treat for those who appreciate his minimalist dream-pop stylings. After releasing the ‘Intimate EP’ he (sometimes with a ‘band,’ typically just drummer Taylor Carroll) he played some shows, but has remained largely dormant. Also featured at this show was solo performer Briana Marela, an unknown to me before this night, and local favorites Cassiopeia as an acoustic two-piece. I’ll forewarn that I was running sound at this show, so my perspective may be different than those strictly in attendance. Cassiopeia led off with a tight and well-played set featuring a good amount of new material. With minimalist instrumentation; just acoustic guitar, ukulele, and some banjo, they hit their notes and made quick changes sound seamless. It was a solid and tasteful performance.

Briana Marela was beyond surprising. As she set up, and up until I heard her perform, I was admittedly expecting a typical set of acoustic guitar and some backing instrumentation from a sampler. That presumption was dead wrong. The only instruments on stage that night, amongst a tangle of data and audio cables, were her voice and a vintage synthesizer with vocal sampling. She looped her voice and the keyboard, flawlessly, using a rigorously rehearsed and controlled electronic music system that, as someone who attempts to use the same program for the same purpose, was incredibly impressive. Her looping was spotless, her pitch and inflection were perfect. From when she started until she said something to the effect of ‘usually at this point I’m being booed off the stage,’ everyone in attendance was completely hypnotized, transfixed by her ethereal, reverberating, and haunting messages of personal honesty, carried by that impressive electronic music. In a needlessly simplified comparison, it was as if Bjork and Imogen Heap went through a teleportation accident, and has to start at the bottom, playing basement shows on the I-5 corridor.

Cody Madison took the stage all by his lonesome, toting a looper, electric and acoustic guitars, vintage reverb tank, and telephone microphone. Admitting that he hasn’t practiced much lately, he dove into tracks off of his EP, save for the glaring exception of the title track, Intimate. He claimed that the band really makes that song. The songs he did play, however, went fantastically, and his banter was probably his saving grace. While tuning his cheapo miniature acoustic guitar, he pleaded “sharp? Flat? Come on, help me out, dude, I don’t play music.” Closing with a classic from his Cozy Kitchen days, I heard genuine chuckles at the line ‘and don’t get pissy-pantsy, on me’ and the mood was completely ambivalent to the general roughness of the show. It was an excellent show, with a sensible bill with good variety within the theme, and all three acts played excellently. Check out all of them on bandcamp and be sure to catch them live if you get a chance. Props to Make.Shift for putting on a quality all-ages show that I was excited to attend before I was commissioned to run the board. This is my conclusion.