By Tara Singh
On Saturday, June 28, many familiar faces congregated for the grand re-opening of the SLG Art Boutiki. Many have considered the former downtown location as the best local venue in San Jose. However, the venue’s new and spacious site at 44 Race St., though no longer downtown, is arguably even better. This past Saturday night, a few local favourite bands known for their performances at the Art Boutiki came out to celebrate the venue’s second coming.
The first band on the bill was Sacramento-based outfit, Cold Eskimo. Perhaps the best live indie band you’ll ever encounter, their up-tempo, ‘60s dream pop sound is only enhanced with extraordinary live energy. Cold Eskimo sound like Best Coast, but with much more complexity and much less distortion, mixed with Seapony, and the throwback eminence of Shannon and the Clams. Frontwoman Rachelle Martin brings liveliness to the stage, with a voice reminiscent of The Shangri-Las, a quality enriched with heavy bass lines and integral, intricate drums. Key songs from the set include Mendocino, a dancey number, and the beautiful, slowed-down Ask Me Why. Both songs can be found the full-length, Glass Beach.
San Jose-based Cartoon Bar Fight followed, performing with guest backup vocalist, Allison Barnes. The band’s dark yet melodic sound is reminiscent of Beirut and The Shins, and is carried by the euphonious vocal capabilities of frontwoman Kendall Sallay, along with bright, prominent keys and guitar. A noteworthy moment included guitarist Joel Zelaya playing with a violin bow in a very experimental Nik Colk Void-esque manner. One significant song from the set list was the title track off of the band’s most recent full-length, Reincarnate. The song has a sort of haunting, almost medieval-sounding, siren-like quality, demanding the attention of the crowd.
The night came to a close with the band everyone was waiting for, the always energetic, Picture Atlantic. Joining them onstage was Gary Bladen, bassist of Cold Eskimo on guitar, and Rachel Bartunek, frontman Nik Bartunek’s sister, providing additional vocals. On earlier releases, Picture Atlantic sound somewhat reminiscent of Coldplay. However, on their newest release Digital Tension, they have adopted a more wide-ranged sound, with darker, more serious lyrics. The most notable part of their performance was undoubtedly their re-introduction of old favourites, including Joust, the first track off of When Everything is Numbers, and We Sing Like Jailbirds, a lovely acoustic song from Dulce Et Decorum Est.
Countless people were saddened by the news of the SLG Art Boutiki’s need for relocation from its 11-year spot at 577 S. Market St. due to sudden plans for apartment complex development back in early December of 2012. But its impressive inaugural show has reminded many of how much the Art Boutiki has been missed, and how glad the entire local music scene is to have it back.