Mothfight, Peachcake, Seashell Radio
Wednesday, July 1
Seashell Radio is arguably Tucson's best-kept musical secret. There's no filler, and every member of the group is a master at his or her individual instrument.
At different points during last Wednesday's show, each member took on the lead vocals as if that was his or her main function. And the harmonies? They meshed their voices in a way rarely seen in this town. The maturity in their sound, coupled with intriguing songwriting, kept listeners focused. No one talked over the band, an all-too-often irritating occurrence at Congress.
Esmé Schwall's mighty cello playing and Cassie Van Gelder's magical piano hands purveyed a tenderness that balanced out the bad-assery of Jeremy Serwer's arresting guitar playing and J. Fen Ikner's remarkable skill on the drums. The set started with a downy softness and, a few songs in, spiraled into an engaging, robust free-for-all. The highlights included the songs "East Coast/West Coast Emo War," "Blue Skies Over Black Markets" and the brand-new "Eleven Months," which showcased the full range of Van Gelder's voice. To watch people work together with such joy was infectious.
Phoenix's Peachcake had to follow the unfollowable. They decorated the stage with stuff you'd find in a magical dress-up trunk at summer drama camp. While their electronic beats got toes tapping, they didn't really seem to know what they were doing. It wasn't even so bad that it was funny; the performance hovered in that irritating gray area where I didn't know whether to flee or stay in one spot and jam my earplugs further into my skull. The lead singer tried to get the audience to be a part of whatever trip he was on, but no one was buying it. I have no idea why they were on this bill, let alone in the second slot. To say they killed the mood is a huge understatement.
Austin's Mothfight! saved the evening for the people who were brave enough to stick around. Lead vocalist/songwriter Kevin Attics knows how to inject just the right amount of experimentation into pop music. Every song was catchy, and though the band is fairly new, I got the feeling they had been around a while based on how tight they sounded. Their indie hit, "Hopscotch," should be just the beginning for them.