Citrus & Katie – The Merrow 4/26/16

Citrus & Katie AT 03

On my way down to see Black Mountain at the Casbah (see my review here) I stopped in at The Merrow to see Citrus & Katie play.  As they were the first out of four bands to hit the stage that night, the crowd, while enthusiastic, was still relatively small.  But the ones smart enough to get there in time were treated to a thoroughly enjoyable set of songs.  Fortunately, one of the early arrivals was my friend Bella Lugosy, aka AcidTones, who took the fantastic pictures included with this story.

The Katie referenced in the band’s name is Katie Howard, lead singer of local psych/surf/indie rock band Big Bloom and co-owner of the Little Dame art/retail shop in North Park.  Then I used my powers of deduction to figure out that the remaining members – Oscar Carrion (from Splavender) on guitar, Grant Gilbert on bass (also in Big Bloom), Andre Flores on keys/sax, and Brian Disney on drums – were Citrus.  Together they played a hybrid of different styles that I don’t believe I’ve heard before.

Citrus & Katie AT 02

My first thought as I listened to Citrus & Katie was that they are part of some sub-genre like “indie-lounge-jazz”.  The opening song had Katie singing beautifully over the top of Oscar’s fluid, seemingly effortless, guitar playing.  And some of the songs were all about that kind of vibe – but then all of a sudden the structure would break down, sometimes into a guitar freak-out and  at other times each instrument would go in an unexpected direction.  Sometimes this would happen all at the same time – as if each musician was playing a different song simultaneously.  Please know, I mean that in the best possible way as the resulting sound was thrilling.

A highlight of the show was the song “Bounce” which starts with a funky riff from Oscar; he is soon joined by Brian with a spare but powerful rhythm and by Grant with a groovy bass line;  Andre provides just the right shading with his keys; and only then does Katie enter the song like a chanteuse in some dark Parisian expat nightclub.  After the first set of verses, Oscar lets loose a syncopated, almost prog-rock, guitar solo before settling back into the groove. In the second break Grant holds down the beat AND provides melodic runs with Oscar’s guitar backing him up.  Then the guitar drops out, the bass comes up and Andre lets loose with a ferocious sax solo.  Then the song ascends (descends maybe?!) into some form of organized cacophony!

Citrus & Katie AT 01

I have to admit that I don’t know much about jazz but my instincts tell me that Citrus & Katie use jazz as a starting point and then take the songs in different and unexpected directions.  This allows them to both contrast with the majority of indie acts playing the local scene but still appeal to wide range of listeners who are drawn to their musicianship, experimental song structures, and obvious love of playing together.

Here’s a video I took of their new song “Creature” from this show and here’s a video of “Bounce” by AcidTones from a show at the Black Kat last year.



Big Bloom – Ché Café – March 24, 2016

Big Bloom closed out a show at the Ché Café Thursday night after sets by San Diego’s Spooky Cigarette and Brooklyn’s Haybaby.  This was the second time I have caught Big Bloom and I still can’t figure out what kind of band they are.  They seem to be pushing and pulling themselves in different directions – from song to song and even within a song.  It is fascinating to hear different genres and influences come to the surface and then morph into something else.  Classic rock, surf, psych, metal and garage all take turns to create interesting songs and a dynamic performance, all with singer Katie Howard’s impassioned vocals laid over the top.  With such a big and varied sound I’d really love to catch this band on a bigger stage and with a much better sound system then the Ché Café has to offer.  But really – catch this group if you can – on any sized stage!

Here are two songs from this performance:  Venus / Step Up to My Face

Big Bloom: The Soda Bar 2/17/16

This was another night that I was glad that I like to get to shows early to catch the opening acts.  You never know what you’ll find and the range is especially wide at small venues like the Soda Bar in San Diego.  On this night the strategy paid off as I discovered local band, Big Bloom, who were the second to hit the stage (out of four total) in support of the touring Sharkmuffin.

I spoke with the singer, Katie Howard, who said the band had been together about 2 years – but their sound, and especially Howard’s command of the stage, would belie this relative inexperience.  The group switches between genres (and really, do bands pay much attention to genres anymore?) easily as they start off playing a souped-up alt-folk before settling into a spirited psych-surf-garage-rock stomp.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more shows of this up-and-coming band.  And speaking of eyes, I’ll try to get the story on the pink warpaint worn by Ms. Howard, which looked pretty cool under the blue lights of the Soda Bar stage!

Here’s a video of “Punk Song” that gives a good idea of what this band is all about.

Update: here’s a nice interview with Ms. Howard on CinemaSpartan

Check out Big Bloom on Facebook and at Bandcamp