Last Thursday, dozens of friends piled into the Habitat House -- the home and HQ of the nonprofit art collective Sezio -- for an intimate living-room performance by Colorado's Candy Claws and San Diego's Tape Deck Mountain. My music blog Friends With Both Arms co-presented the event, along with Habitat House, to provide an alternative way for friends to experience music, literally, from the comfort of a living room.
We were excited to host Candy Claws; the band is making its way down the West Coast on a short tour run and was on its way back home. I arrived at Habitat House before the show to meet with the band and marvel at the living room walls, which were covered in artwork from the previous night's art show by Leah Goren. Paintings and artwork of girls in floral dresses on a newly painted pink wall was fitting setting for a band like Candy Claws, who performed in front of a movie projection of images the band had shot of natural things -- grass, water, flowers -- that were dancing and stretching on the ceiling above. Everything felt earthy and homemade.
Immediately, you were taken by the tambourine, as one of the girls rattled it, dancing with a smile stuck on her face that made you think no one in the room could possibly be having as much fun as her. She was sort of mesmerizing in a childlike way, while the rest of the band was rather stoic, she was the free spirit embodying the music as it was meant to be played.
Just who that was with the tamourine is hard to say, but we think her name is McKenzie. You see, Candy Claws feature a rotating cast of friends and musicians on the road; what we do know is that Ryan Hover and Kay Bertholf are the band's founding members, and that McKenzie, Karen (drums) and Riley (bass) -- the band only furnished us with first names -- also performed at Habitat House.
The band flowed through song after song, all of them sort of blending into one another; with a heavy bass and synth overpowering any trace of vocals, the set sounded almost entirely instrumental. It was all psychedelic and shoegaze, so it was all right if it didn't break. Thematically, Candy Claws sing about the sea, the land -- uncomplicated things -- but their layers can get complex, with the drummer banging and tapping, a mini keyboard shrieking, and a bass and tambourine making for something loud.
Travis Trevison of Tape Deck Mountain performed solo to open the show, mixing new songs with old to images of Swiss Family Robinson playing on the wall behind him, making lines and shapes on his face. He looped guitar sounds, recording finger taps to playing back as a beat, while singing with a deep hollow voice in songs mostly about love. The room felt that way for both, with the fans lingering for a while after to admire the walls of the house before taking off for the night.
Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms and works in artist relations for the nonprofit organization Invisible Children. Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.