Innerds at the Casbah, 8/24/10

I don’t go out to the Casbah very often on a school night, but that’s when I get a chance to talk with other live music junkies without the weekend crowds. The first two groups I saw weren’t very interesting, so I didn’t bother shooting them. Besides, I was here to see the next band, Innerds.

Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Innerds at Casbah 82410 © Michael Klayman-011

Bobby Bray from the Locust and Brandon Relf from Sleeping People are doing a new-ish math band, complete with the ubiquitous tapping and buried vocals that have become a signature of the style. Who would have thought that 80’s metal technique combined with Bebop complexity would give birth to this.

Innerds at Casbah 82410 © Michael Klayman-003

Maybe Bebop isn’t a very obvious influence, but I see many similarities between Math Rock and Bebop.

In the early 40’s, the popular music heard on the radio was primarily jazz singers or jazz bands. People like Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Lawrence Welk, and Billy Eckstine dominated the airwaves. Before the electric guitar changed everything, if you wanted to go out and hear some music, you’d take your lady out to the club to dance to a swing band. But there was a certain group of musicians who got bored playing the same tunes night after night, so they injected come complicated harmony and rhythms into the music they played in the after-hours clubsof NYC and Harlem, with nobody except other musicians as the audience.

Innerds at Casbah 82410 © Michael Klayman-009

As the music got more complex, it became tougher to dance to. Your average couple can’t dance to the tempos that these tunes were played at, so it became more of a listening music than a dancing music. Some clubs started putting out chairs on the dance floor so that people could check out this new breed of music, onomonopoetically named Bebop, and the new breed of “hip cat” who played and spoke in a dense and insular language. These were the original hipsters.

Innerds at Casbah 82410 © Michael Klayman-008

I’m sure it doesn’t take much effort to see how replacing a few words turns them into a desciption of math rock. At worst, it’s complexity for complexity’s sake. But when it’s good, it can be like jumping through flaming hoops at 100 mph, thrilling and disorienting at the same time. I’m not saying that this is what Innerds sounds like, but that’s the journey they’re on.

Innerds at Casbah 82410 © Michael Klayman-006

I was going to shoot Upsilon Acrux, but their new twin guitar and drum lineup isn’t as exciting as the last time I saw them. Gabriel Sundy pointed out to me that for the whole night, there was only one band that included a bass player, as one of my pet peeves is bass-less bands. I’d hate to think that my chosen instrument is falling out of favor in the progressive music realm, but once these guys want to shake some booties in the crowd again, that’s when the bass will come back.

North Park Music Thing, Day 2, 8/14/10

Day 2 of North Park Music Thing started at the crack of noon with some of the panels at the Lafayette Hotel.

PLEASE DON”T DOWNLOAD my photos without asking first. Full galleries for all the bands can be found here. Or just click on one of the photos. 

NPMT Panels 81410 © Michael Klayman-002

I didn’t find them incredibly interesting since they were mostly geared towards “making it” in some way. The most entertainig panelist was Dave Brown of Holiday Matinee. During the introductions, Dave said that his label puts out between zero and one albums per year, and pretty much everything else he said was sharp and funny. So many people seem to be leaving San Diego these days, and I just found out this week that he’s one of them.

NPMT Panels 81410 © Michael Klayman-008

The last panel of the day was the best- the best songwriters in town sitting and talking about their craft.

NPMT Panels 81410 © Michael Klayman-015

They sang and played a bit too.

NPMT Panels 81410 © Michael Klayman-016

NPMT Panels 81410 © Michael Klayman-018

John Reis was not all that happy about having to play acoustic, mentioning that he’s strictly an electric guitarist. He even joked that he was going to hunt down the sound guy for the recording.

NPMT Panels 81410 © Michael Klayman-020

After the talks and happy hour at Bar Pink, it was finally time for music! On my walk to Queen Bee, I stumbled across the Ray At Night event, where Zach and Josh Wheeler of Scarlet Symphony were playing in a band I never knew existed- Palindromes. It was uptempo electronica with live bass and drums, very much in the style of El Ten Eleven.

Palindrome at Ray At Night 81410 © Michael Klayman-002

The bass was heavily effected and looped, so they got lots of different sounds out of this trio.

I haven’t been back to Queen Bee since my photo/live music show back in March, but they had some bands I’d been meaning to see for a long time. I only had time to shoot one though, Mr. Gregory Page.

Gregory Page at Queen Bee Arts Center 81410 © Michael Klayman-003

I’d heard his name everywhere in this town since moving here, but I always wrote him off as just another singer songwriter. But he’s much more than that.

Gregory Page at Queen Bee Arts Center 81410 © Michael Klayman-006

He is an actual Songsmith- forging music from the raw materials of our physical and emotional lives.

Gregory Page at Queen Bee Arts Center 81410 © Michael Klayman-013

 I would have liked to stick around after his set to meet him, but it was on to the next stop to see some more local legends. It’s not immediately apparrent where Sunset Temple is, especially with absolutely no signage. But the venue itself is really nice. Wendy Bailey & The True Stories sounded really good in there. 

Wendy Bailey and True Stories at Sunset Temple 81410 © Michael Klayman-006

And the stage lighting is great! I have no idea what this was used for before tonight, but it would make a perfect companion stage for it’s neighbor (Claire de Lune) to host louder bands. Or even as its own venue, whatever it takes to be able to shoot here again.

Wendy Bailey and True Stories at Sunset Temple 81410 © Michael Klayman-009

I can only hope to be 1/10th as good a San Diego music champion as Bart Mendoza has been for decades. It’s just a damn shame that no one could find this place by 7:30 to see it. There were more photographers than audience members for the first half.

Wendy Bailey and True Stories at Sunset Temple 81410 © Michael Klayman-011

After getting a big hug from Wendy Bailey and shooting my fellow photogs Steve Couvalt, Dan Chusid, and Terry Schwartz, I ran down University to get to U-31 in time to catch Hotel St. George’s set. The venues didn’t seem to care about sticking to the schedule, so of course I’m getting to some shows late and some shows early.  I wanted to make sure I could see their whole set, since they are always debuting new songs.

Hotel St George at U31 81410 © Michael Klayman-001

I’ve been a fan of theirs for over a year now, which is to say three albums ago. Their forthcoming release features more actual bass than the last album, Funshine Line. It’s a fun listen, but all the guitar players are crafty bassists too, and the songs still sound like the same band, despite the shifting roles.

Hotel St George at U31 81410 © Michael Klayman-007

This is one of my favorite photo sets from the night with the bright lighting. Wise Monkey was playing at the Office, and they are basically in the dark. Even my fast primes can’t catch enough light, so I slapped on the flash and blasted away, along with a few other who I never see at any shows.

Wise Monkey Orchestra at Office 81410 © Michael Klayman-001 

I hate flash, but a quick conversion to B&W and they capture the show pretty well.

Wise Monkey Orchestra at Office 81410 © Michael Klayman-003

Andy Geib leads the horn section through funky, danceable charts that can get some booties moving. Next time I’ll bring my wife instead of a camera and have some fun!

Wise Monkey Orchestra at Office 81410 © Michael Klayman-009

Now time to run back to Claire De Lune to see the Cathryn Beeks Ordeal. I was getting really tired at this point after 8 hours of shooting but Must. Not. Stop.

Cathryn Beeks Ordeal at Claire De Lune 81410 © Michael Klayman-005

This was my first time seeing Marcia Claire live on stage. She is a damn good bassist.

Cathryn Beeks Ordeal at Claire De Lune 81410 © Michael Klayman-006

Her new son-in-law was shooting too, and we had a nice chat after the set. I didn’t think we talked all that long, but when I walked next door to Sunset Lounge, there she was playing with Jeff Berkley! Straightahead rock isn’t my favorite kind of music so I don’t make it out to see these bands, but they are seriously talented at what they do.

Citizen Band at Sunset Temple 81410 © Michael Klayman-001

I only stayed for a song or two of Citizen Band, as I had to run all the way back to U-31 to catch a band that hadn’t started yet. I did stay for a couple songs of Lion Cut though.

Lion Cut at U31 81410 © Michael Klayman-001

Lion costumes and preprogrammed “song” with lion roars. I don’t get it. Isn’t irony supposed to be clever, and if it’s on stage, shouldn’t it be entertaining? I rinsed my ears out with some soul funk at the Office, getting deep into Pocket.

Pocket at Office 81410 © Michael Klayman-001

I walked in during their straight rendition of some John Scofield tune, and I was bobbing my head by the time I wiggled my way to the front. Since I never use flash, I never drag the shutter to produce light streaks. It’s fun to do every once in a while, but it’s too random to make it a part of my style. Some people make a name for themselves with it, though.

Pocket at Office 81410 © Michael Klayman-006

Pocket at Office 81410 © Michael Klayman-005

By the end of the night, I was just as hot and sweaty a mess as this guy, who also plays with Dirty Sweet. It was worth totally worth it though, even if it hurt to walk for a few days.

Thanks to Rosemary Bystrak, SD CityBeat, and the bands, I was able to pull off shooting 16 bands, panels, and a couple random shoots too. Thanks to all the people I met (including the guy who recognized me from the eyebrows, I’ll never get over that)and all the friends that I ran into at every venue, pizza place, and bar that I found myself in.

PLEASE DON”T DOWNLOAD my photos without asking first. Full galleries for all the bands can be found here. Or just click on one of the photos. 

Ian Tordella and Friends, 8/7/10

I didn’t set out to shoot Ian Tordella twice this weekend, it just kinda happened.

El Zarape 80710 © Michael Klayman-001

We had dinner at El Zarape on Saturday night, where Ian was playing a couple sets with Nathan Hubbard and Tyler Eaton. There was a huge group standing and talking right in front of the band in an otherwise empty bar, so I was wedged right in with the drums. Some people are so inconsiderate with their oblivious attitude to music happening right in front of them.

El Zarape 80710 © Michael Klayman-004

This was the first time I have heard a jazz arrangement of Black Hole Sun. Nice. If I had to guess, I’d say the luminescent Nathan Hubbard was responsible for that one.

El Zarape 80710 © Michael Klayman-002

Our next stop was the Wit’s End for a side band of a friend. Luckily it was running late and we had some nice conversations with friends before the music started. By that point we were ready to follow Nathan to the Tin Can Ale House for his set with Rafter, but mexican food does not make a good precursor to booty bumping.


On my way home from work on Monday, Ian sent out a notice that he was playing at the Woodfin Hotel in Mira Mesa, where he has a residency. Besides being a steady paycheck, it gives Ian a chance to offer a sideman slot to someone different every time. This week he brought someone I hadn’t met before, guitarist Joey Carano.

Ian Tordella and Joey Carano at Woodfin Hotel 80910 © Michael Klayman-002

This hotel is right on my way home from work, so it was pretty easy to convince myself to stop by for a beer and a few tunes. Plus I actually had the camera in the car since I was shooting at work, so it was fate.

Ian Tordella and Joey Carano at Woodfin Hotel 80910 © Michael Klayman-004

It was interesting to hear standards in such a stripped down context. Both Ian and Joey had to hold down basslines when the other one soloed. Hearing a saxophonist’s interpretation of a bassline is entertaining, like it’s trying to support a melody by pulling it up from above instead of supporting it from below. It’s a different take on a harmony line than usual, so it was well worth the free admission to see it.

Ian Tordella and Joey Carano at Woodfin Hotel 80910 © Michael Klayman-007

Sure, these might not be the most glamorous gigs, but it sure beats doing an office job.

Softlightes at the Casbah, 8/2/10

I ventured out on a Monday night to catch some early shows. Swim Party opened the night, but I figured I’d save shooting them for their NPMT show at the new Eleven club. They have a new member now, which was a surprise to a lot of people. 

After Swim Party, I talked with Joshua White for a while in the atari lounge. It was his first time in the Casbah, and I hope I can get him out to some more shows here. Cross-pollination is always a good thing for the arts. He brought me a print of a flyer for an upcoming show:

Softlightes at Casbah 80210 © Michael Klayman-007

Thanks to Jamie Shadowlight for turning my photo into an informative piece of arwork, and to Dennis Reiter at Chrome for turning it into a tanglible object.

I shot Softlightes since I know one of the members. I think I saw them once before, but it was one of my non-shooting nights and I couldn’t get anywhere near the stage. Click on a photo to go to the full gallery.

Softlightes at Casbah 80210 © Michael Klayman-007

Three keyboards and two guitars make pretty pop, but I don’t remember hearing many catchy melodies.

Softlightes at Casbah 80210 © Michael Klayman-003

Softlightes at Casbah 80210 © Michael Klayman-006

Abraham fronts his own band, but plays bass and keys in this one. It was his birthday the day before so Swim Party wished him a happy birthday during their set, making sure to mention that he likes whiskey.

Softlightes at Casbah 80210 © Michael Klayman-005

Ron puts a lot of himself into his vocal performance. He was purposely messing with me when I came in close, turning away from me no matter where I was. We laughed about it later because it was funny, but I still win since I did get a nice group shot. Shooting towards a singer’s back most of the time does open up an unusual angle though.

Softlightes at Casbah 80210 © Michael Klayman-002

I usually have to lean pretty far into the stage to get behind a guitar. And as a bonus, I can keep other members in the background instead of just shooting into the front lights.

Softlightes at Casbah 80210 © Michael Klayman-010

Next weekend will be packed with shows. It’s going to feel like old times.

Caprese Salad, 7/30/10

Caprese Salad 73010 © Michael Klayman-001

I made a delicious Caprese salad from the first tomato I pulled from my Topsy Turvy. It grew for about 6 weeks before ripening, due to the extremely cool weather we’ve had in San Diego so far this summer. Besides being incredibly sweet, the tomato has very small seed pockets
and gel. It’s a very meaty and flavorful tomato. Dressed simply, with
fresh picked basil (also from the garden), mozzerella, kosher slat,
pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar spritzed on top.

Caprese Salad 73010 © Michael Klayman-002

It’s an amazing thing to be able to eat such a simple yet tasty
appetizer for pennies, except for the cheese, which I had to buy. My mozzerella cow is in the

Caprese Salad 73010 © Michael Klayman-003

As of right now, there are a dozen tomatoes that should be turning red this month. If you’re lucky, I might make this for you.