For someone who never got into classic rock and is embarrassingly out of the loop when it comes to artists over a decade old, I find some of the bands I’m most drawn to lately, oddly enough, have an older feel with a contemporary twist. Family Wagon, Terraplane Sun and Strange Vine all have this sort of style with an ability to create original, awesome music while paying homage to rock and rock’s roots. I dig it. Having the three on one bill at the Casbah made this past Saturday’s show a trifecta of bad ass rock.
Being that I love drums and keyboard as part of any ensemble, Strange Vine hooked me immediately with these instruments being set up center stage. This seemingly simple duo of dudes managed to create a full rich sound. Drummer, Ian Blesse wailed on his kit while plunking out melodies on his Rhodes… often at the same time. With a blues smokey voice, singer Toby Cordova laid out deep vocals while strumming killer licks on his guitar, often deftly maneuvering his slide. After a week away from live music, this is exactly what I needed. Jack and ginger didn’t hurt either. If I could find Strange Vine links I’d have them up in a heart beat. Alas, no online music was to be found.
Next up Terraplane Sun filled the stage with everything from keyboards to a trumpet. Their set offered easily accessible rock anchored by standout vocals. Singer Ben Rothbard looked the part of front man while presenting spot-on vocals through older and newer tunes by the band. The Venice band calls up influences from classic blues to a surfer music feel at times. Rothbard’s voice reminded me of Cage the Elephant’s Matt Shultz at times, but with a little less whine and a lot more soul. “Tell Me I’m Wrong” and “Funnel of Love” are my favorite tunes so far and I’m excited to see what the guys do in the future.
Finally Family Wagon was on. I’ve been missing out on these guys for a while and had high hopes for their set. They delivered the goods from the moment they started. “Keeper of the Medicine” heralds a sound straight from the 70’s and an earthy quality I can’t accurately describe. That awesome tune was followed by “Hard Times“… their hit-in-the-making. The song is a boot-stomping pure rock anthem, belted by the talented Calen Lucas. It has an essence of The Black Keys accompanied by sweet harmonies and a sick bass riff. These guys look every bit rock and roll with flying manes of hair and they live up to the image with solid tunes. Their set included newer songs that should be released in the very near future, I believe. Getting this first exposure to the band guarantees I’ll be back for more. The crowd was equally enthralled, chanting for “one more song” upon completion of the set and getting obliged with two more. Good shit, real good shit.
Keep up with Strange Vine from Fresno, CA here on Facebook (touring California this month.) Terraplane Sun have Cali dates as well (found here) including a return to sunny San Diego with Family Wagon in July at the Bootlegger. Find FW’s stuff here and make note that in just a week they’ll grace us again at The Griffin (one of my favorite local spots).