Noise Pop Review: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Before The Brave, Kacey Johanssing at Great American Music Hall, 3/1/13

by Dakin Hardwick on March 12, 2013

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Normally, four band shows are too much to bear. However, the good folks ay Noise Pop managed to piece together a complete package that more than impressed. We got to enjoy for distinct musical projects that both complimented each other, and still remained entirely unique. We ended up enjoying 4 straight hours of great music.

Kacey Johanssing

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Kacey Johansing has been playing around the bay area for a long time. I’ve known her name about as long as I’ve been going to shows. She plays a lot, and she plays with some really good bands. Yet, tonight was my first night witnessing her. And, wow. Her blissful blend of jazz, lounge and folk was certainly a treat to the ears. She may not have the most dynamic stage presence, however her voice more than made up for it. It is beautful and delicate, and rested nicely on top of her band, which featured vibraphone and electric piano, which helped create a very smooth and sexy sound. In a mere 25 minutes, I was definitely converted, and won’t procrastinate with seeing her ever again.

Before The Brave

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I have seen a lot of bands get sweaty on stage. Before The Brave get the very special honor of being the fastest band to go from dry to soaked that I have ever encountered. Seriously, the energy from this folk country quintet was insane. Lead singer, Jason Perry Stevens, reminded me a young Rhett Miller- a great gift for melody and voice, and an endless energy that is always accompanied by a huge smile. Throughout the entire set, the smile never fell from Stevens’ face. If during the tender moments, specifically a truly heartfelt ballad sung as a duet with keyboardist Beth Garber, he still stayed smiling. Aside from the few ballads, they really did focus on the barnstormers. And if I were to set fire to a barn, this is the band I’d want doing the soundtrack.

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside

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Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside hit the ground running with a fast and furious instrumental surf jam. For the second track, Ford jumped on the mic, and they evolved into a delicious set of reverb drenched rockabilly set, with a touch of surf rock. Ford’s back up band, The Sound Outside was amazing and skilled. Her guitar player, Jeffrey Munger, played a sound that was equal parts Billy Zoom, Dick Dale, and Carl Perkins on (more) meth. He was even playing what appeared to be a homemade guitar, complete with pick ups that didn’t fit properly and a volume control that was taped on. It was a super fun set that was over far too soon.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

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Thao Nguyen is one of the finest performers I have ever seen. Her voice, combined with her guitar playing, creates a beautiful energy that’s unlike anything else I have ever heard. Her set consisted primarily off songs from her brilliant new record, We The Common, and her band this evening was the biggest and best band I’ve heard her with! In addition to the traditional “rock” backing, she had Kacy Johansing on harmony vocals, and a horn section that spotlighted bay area woodwind legend Ralph Carney. It helped preserve the big & celebratory sound of album, and also helped increase the potency of classic tracks.

Nguyen is a fantastic multi instrumentalist, as well. She can take any plucked instrument and create a genuine & distinct sound. She alternated between guitar and banjo, and even threw down some mandolin and killed on the lap steel during an intense version on “Squareneck.” She ended the set with a fun sing along of her newest single, “We The Common (For Valerie Bolden).” And, as a special surprise, Nguyen brought out Merrill Garbus, better known as the brains behind tUnE-yArDs, to sing harmony vocals on “Body.” It was a triumphant end to a fun night of music.

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