It’s been 15 years since I said farewell to my Bay Area homeland and set out for Colorado. After checking out the line up of bands set to perform at the inaugural showcase of Bay Area bands, sponsored by Balanced Breakfast and the Recording Academy at this year’s Underground Music Showcase, the Bay’s music is just as diverse and spirited, as dark and gritty, and as subdued and haunting as ever.
In addition to the Balanced Breakfast showcase that takes place Sunday, July 31st at Skylark from noon to 5pm, each of the acts are playing other UMS slots during the festival.
It makes the heart skip more than a few times to hear SF’s synth pop roots continue to flourish and weave around the earlobes by way of Beautiful Machines’ new album, Bridges. I could envision them performing at the DNA Lounge (pre-Jamie Zawinski) or the long gone but not forgotten I-Beam, but these days the Independent Music Award winners (for Disconnect : : Reconnect, Album of the Year in 2014) are more liken to fill the Great American Music Hall.
With a complex mix of electronic and organic instrumentation, the vocals from songwriter and guitarist Conrad Schuman soar above the musical tidal waves and slither below the subtle melodies. Drummer Veli-Matti Matilla creates the thundering percussion found on “Sunrise Song” and other tracks by designing and programming his own drum kit and programs. The classically trained Stef Ku is behind Beautiful Machine’s sultry soundscapes and dirty beats, the likes of which take you into the darkened caverns on “Real Love” and made more than a few Burners sway and flow on the Playa.
Your feet stick to the floor a bit as you try to make your way to the bar before last call. There’s sweat dripping down the brick wall and your hearing is completely blown. But everyone you see around you has a big grin across their face. Hair ascew and wet, it’s the look of rock and roll, baby. It’s the Unlikely Heroes experience, a moshpit of no bullshit punk and hip-hop born on the streets of San Francisco. “Up All Night” is the first single from the band’s EP due out in the Fall.
The indie baroque singer-songwriter Drea.m sings tales that walk the tightrope of surreal escapism and dungeonesque fantasies plucked from Stevie Nicks’ inner circle. When it comes to performing, she embraces both sides, being vulnerable and stripped down, while tapping the strength that comes from her creations and expressions. “Music for me has been, hands down, the most liberating and empowering thing that I’ve ever done for myself,” Drea said in her ‘making of’ video for the “Timebomb” single music video, which was funded by fans.
Cure For Gravity
Joe Markert, lead singer of Cure For Gravity, is not a newbie to UMS. Having performed at Denver’s festival in the past and seeing it grow over the years, he led the initiative to corral his fellow Bay Area artists to make this showcase happen. Along with members Chris Gamper and Dave Walcott, Cure for Gravity has a new album in the works, with a planned October release date.
Lay the rug by the fire, dust off the Courvoisier, and kick Leon Phelps to the curb. D.Edward is the soul singer for seduction, but he’s also known to rock the house, rock it inside out. Dude’s also got awards and nominations up the yazoo, including (but not limited to) the 2016 Indie Music Channel Award for Best R&B Producer, nomination for the 2015 Hollywood Music in Media Award, the Oakland Indie Award, and he contributed to a Latin Grammy nominated album Adelante by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band.
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