LIVE REVIEW: Dresses + Cumulus + Li Xi @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14

February 05. 2014 | By Kat Engh

If you’ve never heard of Dresses, don’t worry, a near-empty New Parish on a Monday night says you’re not alone, but we think you’re going to hear a whole lot more about the Portland girl-boy duo soon, so set them on your radar now.

Opening band LI XI plays psychedelic electro-dream-rock for both the modern shoegazer and the hippie in the audience who hasn’t given up on hopes for a return to bell bottoms, and we mean all of this with true bubblegum love for the Bay Area band. This is not a band that comes on stage to perform, LI XI comes to jam and play, and SF owls should be glad to call them local.

Li Xi @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14LI XI

Li Xi @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14LI XI

And how it pains us to say that we wish the same were true for Seattle band Cumulus, the Charlie Brown rain cloud of the night. Short of what we hope is a lively and animated drummer due to some unnamed medical emergency, the band soldiered on with just two guitars to play through their entire set of sad, self-described “songs about feelings.” Technically, all of the right elements were there; Cumulus frontwoman Alexandra Niedzialkowski has a gorgeous voice and the guitar work is solid. As one sweet, sullen song slid into another though, the audience seemed to lose its pulse by set’s end. We advise against jokes about trying 5 Hour Energy when you’re about to put your audience to sleep. Ouch.

Cumulus @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14Cumulus

Cumulus @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14Cumulus

Dresses @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14Dresses

Luckily, even as they sat on stools side-by-side before a sleepy crowd, Dresses brought enough charm to the stage to refill our depleted energy stores. With a sound like Joanna Newsom meets Ben Harper, Dresses members Timothy Heller and Jared Ryan Maldonado have a rapporte both in vocal harmonies and playful banter with the audience that made the room go from feeling cold and empty to intimate and special. The Dresses brand of twee bonfireside folk with a ukulele is sweet and FM radio-friendly, and even their Foster the People cafe folk cover held up with nary a synth in sight. Your move, She & Him. There’s a new charismatic acoustic duo on stage, and we’re looking forward to more.

Dresses @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14Dresses

Dresses @ New Parish, SF 2/3/14Dresses

Check out more photos of Portland’s up-and-comers Dresses HERE

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