The Cali Ruta Latin / American Fusion Tour brought to fruition by Goldenvoice (in association with Lifeboxset, the leading independent content platform in Mexico and Latin America) kicked off it's first show at the Glasshouse in Pomona, California. It was wonderful to experience the very first Cali Ruta show with the knowledge or at least the feeling deep down inside that I was witnessing the birth of an ongoing social and musical movement, of a festival that has the chance to grow each and every year into something unimaginable (at this point) and ever far reaching.
Every new baby has to find it's way and Cali Ruta had some wobbling moments like slated Puerto Rico's AJ Davila y Terror Amor unable to attend and as much as I looked forward to seeing them, the replacement band Celofan from Tijuana Mexico ended up being one of my favorite acts of the night. Celofan's 4 piece indie rock encompassed beautiful melodies with rhythms and lead lines that often times strayed into dissonance. Vocalist and guitarist, Luis Aguilar would keep the wang bar in constant flex to bend the sounds into interesting 8th steps for micro seconds only making the shoegazey sounds feel like ripples in water. Their were hints of 90's Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth sprinkled in their evocative sounds. I really loved the imagery, the feelings their songs created in my head.
Bad Suns from the LA area create solid indie pop songs. Chris Bowman's vocal performance transitions from clear belting out to a potent falsetto effortlessly. There sound lays down grooves with dynamic tones in between the lush parts. There is a decidedly 80's romantic wave sound in there somewhere along with a post punk sound all the while having a strong pop sensibility. I flashed on The Cure, The Bravery for some reason though Bad Suns have their own sound. I like their set a lot, the swelling guitar sounds, totally heavy base lines and solid beats. The indie rock sense with doses of funk too.
While the crowd grew steadily throughout the night, the numbers seem to grow exponentially as Fmlybnd took the stage. Even though front man Mac was ailing a really sore throat and seemed under the weather, he pushed through with a killer performance. This 6 piece band crank out upbeat electro-synth-pop in the vein of M83 but with a more down to earth organic feel. While some of their songs seem to borrow heavily from each other you cannot help but get caught up in their stirring sound of beats and sonic wall of guitar and electronica. It is infectious fun and even uplifting. Swimming in a fog tinged bath of colored lights, Fmlybnd put on a great show. The crowd was totally immersed. It was a sea of movement, dancing and screams from them to play more when their set ended.
The last band to take the stage was Kiev from Orange, California. This 5 piece band fuses indie rock, jazz, progressive sounds and more into this mix of songs that happily seem to descend into jammy almost chaotic interplays of music. Their wide set up with keyboards as bookends with Andy Stavas (keys / saxophones) stage left and Alex wright (piano, keys, guitars) stage right promised some epic music and the band obliged. The opening number started slowly with Robert Brinkerhoff's plaintiff vocals and guitar picking that would veer into interesting half steps until band members slowly fell into place. This opening gave way to a heavy song full of dramatic down beats and swirling beautiful noise. The crowd was fully into, the complexities of Kiev's sounds and cheered every time Andy reached for his sax. When he wasn't using his instrument to deliver fluttery dressing and insane fills, he would provide this awesome drone that blended so well with Robert's vocals. Kiev's ability to go from a spartan sound to a cavernous chaotic wall of sound is so utterly engaging. I think the audience felt spent after their set and they showed their appreciation with their applause and hoots.
The maiden voyage of Cali-Ruta at the Glasshouse was (by all accounts) a total success. The musical diversity displayed made for a different experience that your typical indie rock show. The next stop is in Santa Barbara, Ca. (Velvet Jones Nov. 12th), then San Diego, Ca. (The Griffin) and then Tijuana, Mexico (Moustache - Nov. 15th).
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