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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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MusicMusic ReviewNoise Pop report: Seablite grabbed center stage at the...

Noise Pop report: Seablite grabbed center stage at the Chapel with hypnogogic glee

Full of psychedelic alt-'90s energy, the locals perfectly complemented headliner Laetitia Sadier and Broun Fellinis' sax.

I’m waiting in line for the ticket window at The Chapel, and an old friend, Phil Benson, formerly of the post-punk indie pop band Neutrals, is there too. He’s smiling. It’s a big, big night for local music. As we catch up, Phil Lantz, drummer for Neutrals and husband of Lauren Matsui from Seablite, listens in and laughs along. 

David Boyce, sax player extraordinaire of Broun Fellinis, a deconstructing jazz outfit of three decades in the Bay, is playing a tuned-down version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” in a cafe located to the right of The Chapel on Valencia Street. 

Meanwhile both Phils and I can’t wait to see Seablite perform their smashing new album to a sold-out Noise Pop sponsored event. They may be opening for Laetitia Sadler, vocalist for Stereolab gone solo, Valencia Street has turned out for the hometown crew.

This easily could have been a capacity crowd for the Broun Fellinis alone, at their late-’90s zenith, waiting outside Cafe du Nord. But things, like restaurants and robotaxi allowances, always change in San Francisco.

Walking into the current venue, I’m geeked to see this local band take yet another step forward. But also happy younger folks, just starting their “club life” next store, have the good guidance of a dedicated Afrofuturist at the helm. Valencia Street keeps things hummin.

But let’s cut to the quick: The Chapel looked spectacular. Packed to capacity with vinyl enthusiasts and hard kombucha aficionados nudging and edging out their neighbors in hopes of securing prime real estate on the venue floor to see Seablite play their outstanding 2023 album, Lemon Lights for the hometown fans.

Alt-’90s vibe runs directly through this revitalized band’s energy. Lemon Lights exudes “what’s on the other side of the acid house rave” energy in athleisure. The SF band’s breakthrough album even got a mention from them this year from Rolling Stone (as questionable as they may be) They’ve broken through.

But let’s sort this from the top down: Artists from all over the world love to play in San Francisco.

It’s low-hanging fruit these days to engage with current timelines of Macy’s, mall closures, and Waymos being permitted on highways. But that doesn’t carry any weight in the cultural impact this city makes, and more importantly, it’s boring. 

Reggie Watts, who is in town for a show Thursday, loves the burritos here. So of course Laetitia Sadler chose San Francisco as the first city on her Rooting For Love Tour.

Laetitia, with trombone

“It’s my first nite of the tour and it’s also my warm-up show” she told the sold-out crowd who laughed along with her. It might have been just a bit shorter than expected, but definitely not un-eventful.

Sadler, who told us last month that Jeff Parker is on her listening rotation, performed alone onstage, using delay pedals, guitar, a trombone, her own vocals (and some polite mistakes) run through a mixing board. It was even brought to my attention that she plays guitar like Jimi Hendrix, upside down.

As she went through songs, and Zack Rodells’ stunning visuals made her performance 4-D, you could hear those Stereolab color chords on the guitar and it just hushed a somewhat feisty crowd.

But the whiplash, alt-’90s can of hypnagogic pop, rich sonic textures, and those relaxed melodies jumping from Seablite, it set a tone of winsome alchemy.

Everybody who arrived early knew exactly who was onstage and applauded this Seablite 2.0 presentation. In Between songs you could see Galine Tumasyan and bandmate Lauren Matsui exchange smiles and giggles, letting the moment in, just a little, before firing off into the buzz-pandemonium of “Blink Each Day.” 

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John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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