June 3, 2011
Galaxy Theatre, Santa Ana
What's that old cliché, don't judge a book by its cover? Well, the same can be said for parking lots. Don't judge a concert by the amount of cars in the lot. One would think that a Juno Award-winning act like Bedouin Soundclash could perhaps garner some semblance of a crowd, but tonight was not one of those nights. With a club capacity of around 970, the Santa Ana venue was maybe at 15 percent. And that is being generous.
With four bands on the bill, the two openers played mostly to friends and family as the rest of the attendees moseyed on in at their own leisure. The support for the evening was a duo from Sao Paulo, Brazil appropriately called Brothers of Brazil. The duo recently signed to Side One Dummy and is bound to raise a few eyebrows once they start making the rounds stateside.
I liken the music to this scenario: one day while out on a stroll Antonio Carlos Jobim runs into a slurring John Lydon. The two become fast friends and decide to blend bossa nova with elements of funk and rock mixed with a smidge of punk rock attitude for good measure. I never knew a nylon stringed guitar could sound so crisp when a distortion pedal was pressed. The music has that groovy feel where you just can't help swaying your hips a bit when listening. It's fun, unique and worth another look.
Bedouin Soundclash was in danger of being upstaged by the Brazilian brothers and they hadn't played a single note. Good thing for them - they are Bedouin Soundclash. As the trio wandered on stage Jay Malinowski, guitar/lead vocals, adjusted his hat and stared out into the audience before launching into the first song off their newest album. "Mountain Top" has that warm familiarity of a song you've heard before. Not too fast, not too slow - just right.
The 17-song set had selections from all over the band's catalog. Between the lovey dovey stylings of "12:59 Lullaby," the heartbreaking lyrical content of "Fools Tattoo," to the swinging beats of "St. Andrews," the Canadian rock reggae outfit showed every bit of showmanship they have picked up in their decade long career.
It may be weird to say, but the smaller crowd added to the overall experience of the show. These were the true fans. The ones who knew all the words and the ones who are likely to frequent the Bedouin Soundclash fan forums. They had genuine love and the band knew it. In between songs you could hear a pin drop. The combination of a big room and lack of people to fill it gave the Galaxy a library like hush when the music stopped.
Arguably the band's biggest hit, "When the Night Feels My Song," was one of the evening's stellar highlights. With a long, drawn out intro the group snuck in a few bars of Ben E. King's timeless classic "Stand By Me" before dropping into the feel good sensations of the band's tour de force. Surprisingly, it was not the closing number, but they saved plenty for the band's two encores including new favorite, "Rolling Stone" and finally the dance inducing "Nothing to Say."
As hinted at before, it's not the size of the crowd that matters, but rather it's the crowd's ability to have a good time. It was one of those nights where everyone in attendance managed to remember to bring their dancing shoes and everyone was better for it.
Critic's Bias: Originally I was just a sucker for "When the Night Feels My Song," but then came to realize that the boys from Canada are much more than just a one trick pony.
The Crowd: Some definite high-schoolers tossed in with some stoner types and a few happy drunks.
Random Notebook Dump: Quite shocked that I didn't even get a whiff of some high-grade marijuana, uh...I mean medicine.
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Shadow of a Man
The Quick & the Dead
Gyasi Went Home
A Chance of Rain
Walls Fall Down
When the Night Feels My Song
Israelites (Desmond Dekker cover)
Living in Jungles
Nothing to Say