LIVE REVIEW: Cayucas + Hibou @ The Independent, SF 8/17/15
With our bellies full of Bus Stop Pizza (and one slice equals one belly full), we joined a few hundred warm bodies at San Francisco’s The Independent Monday night for several strong tropical pop cocktails.
Helmed by former Craft Spells drummer Peter Michel, Seattle’s Hibou (pr. “e-boo”) promoted the hell out of their forthcoming (September 18) full-length album. Michel’s skip-happy stage presence was infectious for revelers posted up front, and oblivious “opener? what opener?” conversations were less disruptive than usual. Hibou’s handful of recordings released thus far are distinctly nu-new wave, but the hint of thrashing bombast and a kicking cover of Gorillaz “Kids With Guns” (Happy 10th anniversary, Demon Days) suggest a more expansive style lurking behind the shimmery guitar waterfall.
Every note Cayucas play sounds like summertime, or as we call it when we listen to them, “SUMMATIME!” Their first ever show in SF proper (they played Treasure Island in 2013) devoted equal time to Bigfoot and Dancing At the Blue Lagoon, transporting us back and forth between scenic bike rides and idyllic beach resorts. While both are succinct representations of the season, the Santa Monica quartet did a better job selling their relatively older material. If only we had merch table sales tallies to confirm this suspicion.
Zach Yudin chose to forego echo chamber vocal effects and for the most part, ditching the sepia tones worked in the group’s favor. Unofficial theme song “Cayucos” and “Deep Sea” were gently rousing. Pockets of the crowd transformed the “oh my god” mutter on the “Will ‘The Thrill’” chorus into a sharp cry.
Bass and rhythm guitar interplay grounded the jittery “Backstroke,” which caused some folks to fashion dance moves out of nervous pacing. The anxious energy actually turned out to be a good segue into “Hella,” a lilting stomper with a hook tailor-made to have the Bay Area eating out of the band’s busy hands.
“Ditches” found the calypso lounge lizards toying with the notion of becoming a swing for the fences arena act that we could then only cover in passing. Stately piano-based bopper “Champion” was more lackadaisical than chillaxed, and sounded like a faded copy of “Bigfoot,” which would ultimately close the show.
“High School Lover” was the rumbling happy hippie highlight that we expected it to be, but it was oddly placed third to last in the set and would have made for a much stronger finish. Even though Cayucas’ set was only about forty-five minutes long, their limited song structure spectrum became a bit of a detriment. Still, there are enough variations in their perpetually sunny melodies to make us glad we spent the evening with them.