Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Live Review: Vetiver

Friday Night in the Vetiverse

After a long work week and the mind-numbing repetition of the daily grind, Friday evening left me feeling spent and lacking serious enthusiasm for anything other than sitting on my couch and staring into space. Previous commitments dictated otherwise, and after work, I found myself navigating the zig zagging curves of I-17 en route to Santa Cruz.

Our entourage of friends and family arrived at The Crepe Place restaurant in Santa Cruz where the band Vetiver would be performing around 8:30 PM. Not the first place I would think to watch a show, but in addition to being an excellent restaurant, The Crepe Place turned out to be the ideal setting to watch a band like Vetiver and acted as an atmospheric elixir for this writer's tired mind.

A large backyard patio complimented the restaurant, complete with several sets of tables and chairs as well as a semi-natural stage tucked into the far corner and surrounded by a lush array of botanical beauties. The super casual, relaxed atmosphere was contagious, and soon audience and band members were seen mingling about and enjoying a beverage or two while opener Jonathan Wilson and his band performed their cosmic country rock.

As the band tuned up, Vetiver decided to soundcheck with a song and thus, the show began. As a new fan of the band that is only familiar with songs from their album To Find Me Gone, I cannot comment in depth on the songs the band played throughout the night. What I can tell you is they performed a mix of songs spanning their albums, including the just released covers album, Thing of the Past, as well as some brand new Vetiver originals (one called "Sister") yet to release.

In short, Vetiver gently rocked the night away with their mix of folk, jug band blues and psychedelia. Vocalist/guitarist Andy Cabic's voice has this dreamy, ethereal quality that allows the songs to float over the audience like smoke from a stick of incense. When Cabic is joined on vocals by lead guitarist Kevin Barker, their vocal harmonies reminded me of a Crazy Horse/CSN vibe that definitely brought a little more rock 'n roll into the dreamy folk mix.

Musically, Vetiver serves the muse. Songs unfold naturally and never sound forced. Solid rhythm work from drummer Otto Hauser and bassist Brent Dunn anchored songs and allowed certain selections to be jammed out, including a great rendition of "You May Be Blue" from To Find Me Gone. The recent time on the road spent backing Gary Louris of the Jayhawks has primed Vetiver in the live setting. and the solid musicianship and relaxed attitude were in abundance Friday night.

After playing a solid 90 minutes, Vetiver exited the stage and the crowd resumed to chatting and refilling their drinks. While the evening did not have that electric energy of a rock show, the combination of venue + crowd + Vetiver provided the ideal environment to forget our worries and stresses for a few hours and soak up some great music.

Vetiver Website

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