Waiting for My Midnight: The Heavy Guilt, Saint Motel and The Nformals at The Casbah

I may have mentioned The Heavy Guilt before a time… or ten. They have legitimately become my favorite San Diego band. After seeing them half a dozen times in the past few months I continue to be impressed with their showmanship, immense dedication to performing, and ability to craft a really bitchen sound.

When I saw them on the bill for the Casbah show on Wednesday, February 8th I may or may not have done a happy dance. Ok, fine, I did. The night before my birthday and a show by the Guilt was a perfect excuse to go out on a Wednesday (as if I needed one.)

The NFormals

Starting the night was as short set by The Nformals. The singer reminded me of a cross between one of my ex-boyfriends and my friend’s 8-year-old daughter. And I do mean that in the nicest way possible. He was animated, likeable, and the band’s set was a good way to start the night. The club was a little sparse at that point but they seemed to take it in stride, gave out some CDs at the end of their set, and kick started things with high-energy and user-friendly tunes. Closed it with a song I really dig: “White Like a Black Shirt.”

Al, Eric, and Jenny of The Heavy Guilt

When The Heavy Guilt set started I was amped to put it mildly. They did a phenomenal job of choosing the set list for the occasion. A mixture of old, new, and newer tunes, plus a blend of the softer stuff with hard-hitting favorites offered the audience an ideal representation of what makes The Heavy Guilt just so damn awesome. Starting with “Through the Tangles” displayed Erik Canzona’s vocal range from the soft intro to the fierce repetition of the line “don’t ask me why.” And the enthusiasm of Al Howard on homemade instruments and Sean Martin on guitar is always infectious. If you happened to be present and saw a couple chicks dancing like fools in front of the stage… yeah, that was me and my partner in crime.

“Summer Came” continues to thrill me every time I hear it. It’s a new tune, not-yet-released, but makes me thoroughly excited to see what comes next from the band. [Spoiler alert: Al Howard’s other band, The Black Sands (featuring Guilt members Jenny Merullo and Josh Rice) has an album dropping in April. More to come on that and the talented Mr. Howard in my interview with him this week.] Finishing up the set on Wednesday “The Cost” wrapped up my birthday eve package and presented it with the perfect finishing touch. Just enough jam to go with well-crafted lyrics- the definition of the Guilt.

Saint Motel

And the cherry on the top of the evening was Saint Motel. After my excitement for the Guilt and four PBR tall boys (classy, I know) I was dance-happy and birthday buzzed. Their set came at the perfect time. While my friend, who was unfamiliar with the L.A. band, looked at me like I had three heads I proceeded to dance my face off to their mixture of pop-tinged rock. Really good stuff. Not to mention, the singer was more than easy on the eyes and I got a free shot at midnight when it officially became my birthday. Whoop whoop!

Sounds to Sample from the NFormals, The Heavy Guilt and Saint Motel:

“White Like a Black Shirt” by The NFormals

“Through the Tangles” by The Heavy Guilt

“At Least I Have Nothing” by Saint Motel

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About Jen Van Tieghem

There aren’t many things I love more than music. While life spins away at a rapid beat I’ve realized it’s important to spend it doing what I love – enjoying music in San Diego. I have a handful of favorite venues, a heart full of favorite bands, and decided to write about it.

3 comments on “Waiting for My Midnight: The Heavy Guilt, Saint Motel and The Nformals at The Casbah

  1. […] Waiting for My Midnight: The Heavy Guilt, Saint Motel and The Nformals at The Casbah – a birt… […]


  2. […] Alligator Republic at The Griffin: The Nformals earned a special place in my heart when they played the Casbah the night before my birthday. They’re energetic and fun (and I have forgiven singer, Joshua Scott, for looking too much […]


  3. […] Over a year ago I caught Saint Motel here in San Diego, and it seems they’ve been blowing up like woah ever since. In the last year or so they put out their first full-length album, Voyeur, toured like mad men (including return visits to town), and put out an infectious video for their single “Benny Goodman” (directed by frontman, AJ Jackson, no less.) Their music is a charming blend of unapologetic pop that plays well with brazen horn and delicate piano interludes. Along with Jackson the L.A. band consists of Aaron Sharp (AKA A Sharp – lead guitar), Dak (bass), and Greg Erwin (drums). […]


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