THE SOFT WHITE SIXTIES WITH GUARDS, ZARINA NARES AT THE BOOTLEG, SATURDAY AUGUST 11TH 2018
I am going to a lot of release parties lately, as the Soft Whit Sixties at the Bootleg was my second release show of the week, but this can’t be a bad thing.
Zarina Nares opened the evening with her deep smoky vocals and her nightclub noir ambiance. Just accompanied by guitarist Ben Glasser, she sang with a haunting croon which could have been another version of Amy Winehouse singing Billie Holiday. It was a bit dark, and terribly sexy and she right away smoked out the walls of the bar with her unique voice and a modern twist on jazz and slow blues. The New York native, who is also a model, has been playing for a little while in Los Angeles clubs, and she has released her first EP, Songs To Sway To just last year, featuring her own material. Her music had this instant noir-R&B-60s-classic quality, habited by her unique personality, and certain songs sounded so familiar that I even thought she was doing covers. But she eventually did one, a very poignant and timeless ‘Sweet Dreams’, that she sang with her unique range, going from a nasal howl to a deep-throat voice.
Guards always put up great shows, with explosive guitars, powerful hooks and a real sweetness coming from Richie Follin’s strong vocals. They were following Zarina, and put the stage on fire, with epic guitars, loud drumming and swirling keyboards. Some of their songs built a strong rock show with epic climaxes, soaring vocals and driving tempos, sweeping the place in a windwhirl of optimism and passion… not too un-similar to what Arcade Fire used to do. Their most famous song ‘Silver Lining’ was an instant earworm, other songs offered that special kind of raucous rock balancing the right amount of upbeat chaos, yearning and bright hooks, while other songs had a real dancefloor component. Guards have already toured worldwide in support of their debut 2013 album ‘In Guards We Trust’ and have opened for big acts as Queens of the Stone Age, MGMT, and many others, even playing major festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Primavera Sound. Every time I see them I am thinking that their ambitious wide-screen indie rock needs obviously a follow-up.
The Soft White Sixties have just released an album ‘Alta California’, that they recorded twice, in English and in Spanish, an idea dear to frontman Octavio Genera, a first generation Mexican-American who grew up in a bilingual family. And since the album was recorded over the course of several sessions that began on Election Night 2016, the lyrics had to reflect the present climate. And this is precisely what they explored in new songs like ‘Reaganomixxx’ and the decline of the American dream, ‘I Still Love You San Francisco’ and the gentrification of their previous city, and especialy ‘Brick by Brick’, a song whose lyrics cannot be more clear ‘If you build a wall, we’re going to tear it down, brick by brick’…
The Soft White Sixties have the songs and the hooky choruses, plenty of them as a matter of fact, the type of tunes that make you foot tap along while watching Octavio Genera moonwalk all over the stage with a twirling presence and plenty of sexy dancing around the mic stand. Saying that this man can dance is an understatement, he has the immediate sex appeal of a rock star, like a new incarnation of an avalanche of soul icons, sliding on stage like James Brown meets Michael Jackson
This time, they also had fog machines and dramatic lights, and they proved they had the rocking energy of a stadium-worthy band, while their frontman was pushing the songs to new summits, with his howl soaring above their thunderous dancefloors….when you combine a soulful spirit with a great energy and thoughtful to engaging lyrics, you get a winning recipe, but it didn’t seem they had too much to do to convince the crowd front rows of their greatness, as these people screamed and danced all along.
Their infectious dance beats and soulful grooves lightened even more when songstress Lauren Ruth Ward made an apparition to sing the bouncy and upbeat ‘No 1 Like U BB’ in duet with Octavio, and the scene of these two dancing around was definitively a treat for everyone
Octavio Genera and his bandmates Joey Bustos, Ryan Noble, Aaron Eisenberg and Rob Fidel made the album ‘Alta California’ with producer Elijah Thomson, who is currently the bassist for Father John Misty, and they certainly have gotten some airplay on KROQ lately… This is a band which always conquers a crowd with a strong stage confidence and music which mixes a nostalgic vibe with a modern and honest vision of our times
Sorry to Say
I Still Love You San Francisco
Brick by Brick
Until the World Stops Spinning
No 1 Like U BB
Tell Me It’s Over