BØRNS + Midnight Pine at Birch Aquarium 5-18-16

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to one of the Green Flash concerts at the Birch Aquarium, but when I saw that San Diego’s own Midnight Pine was playing, I snapped up a couple of tickets for myself and my wife.  As the evening went on I was reminded of what I loved, and didn’t love, about the venue.  It is a gorgeous setting at the aquarium’s outdoor patio/tide pool area with a broad view of La Jolla and the pacific ocean.  The atmosphere and location seems to put everyone in a really relaxed, chill mood.

Unfortunately, after a decade of holding these events the organizers still fall short in a few key areas.  They oversell tickets so on a sellout like last night it became uncomfortably crowded, especially considering the awkward shape of the space available. Also, and I’m not really a picky person, but the food, which is provided by Rock Bottom Brewery, is only average at best.  The last issue I have is that, for an event that is sponsored by a beer company, they make it really difficult to buy a beer.  And while the beer is excellent, there is only one spot available and the line is daunting.  Shoot, even when we used to have keg parties back in college we knew to set up at least two different beer stations!

Even with those issues it’s still a great venue and I’ll put up with some hassle as long as the music is as good as it was last night.  First up was The Midnight Pine, who turned in another impressive show. Except for some glitch with the bass in one song, the sound was fantastic in the open air setting and singer Shelbi Bennett‘s voice was strong, clear and floated perfectly above the mix.

This is the third time that I’ve caught The Midnight Pine this year, in three completely different settings (the swanky Music Box, a street-side fair in Oceanside, and here) and their performance was superb each time. The combination of the Redwoods band, Al Howard‘s words, and Shelbi Bennett’s voice and stage presence, creates a sound and feeling that, like the ocean the stage overlooked, is at times restrained and at other moments powerful.

Here’s a clip from a new song called, “Mockingbird”, which Shelbi said will be on their forthcoming new album.

It turns out that I was smart to get my tix early for this show  because it’s been sold out for a while.  At the time I got them I had never heard of BØRNS, but it turns out that he is pretty popular.  Actually, judging by how enthusiastic the girls behind us were as they sang every word to every song (as loud as they could), he might be more than just pretty popular.  Apparently the buzz has been growing around BØRNS for a while now and then went into overdrive after a couple of well-received Coachella performances.

BØRNS came out looking like a modern-day Marc Bolan, with a wild main of dark hair, high-waist jeans, and a crop-top black t-shirt under a too small leather jacket.  This look seemed to match his style of music, which went from  psychedelic and dreamy to a glam-rock stomp à la T-Rex or Slade.  The songs, which were a real blend of both guitar-rock and electro-pop,  often featured big hooks and plenty of sing along choruses that the crowd was more than happy to cooperate with.   BØRNS, who was accompanied by an excellent 4-piece backing band, seemed to be genuinely inspired by the setting and really wanted to share this feeling with the audience.

Here are two partial clips from the set:  “Electric Love” and “10,000 Emerald Pools”



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