How often do people write about the stillness before a live show? That strange sense of longing that lingers in the room before the band, the alcohol, the sound washes over the listener like a steady, free-flowing wave? Or, the moment where fans and musicians might bump elbows, exchange a few words? This level of intimacy is most pronounced in smaller venues, where the slightest shift or sigh can utterly affect the vibe of the room.
This is also Pancakes and Whiskey’s lifeblood; it’s what gives the website its community of music makers, lovers, photographers, and writers. It’s why the website is celebrating one year in the live music circuit.
And it’s the reason why I find myself waiting for four artists—New Myths, Psychic Twin, Leisure Cruise, and Motion Studies—to hit the stage at Cameo Gallery. In one hand, I have a notepad filled with messily scrawled phrases and in the other hand I have a plastic cup filled with Bulleit Whiskey. I’m not the only one by the edge of the new frontier: music lovers around me are drinking Bulleit or eating it in a whiskey-infused ice cream sandwich. A guitarist I befriend before the four shows likens his relationship to Bulleit as that of one between two old friends. Another person describes the ice cream sandwich like “an orgasm in my mouth.” Sipping on Bulleit before a show, it seems, is like bringing to life what Robert Plant recommends us to do “Dancing Days”: “Sippin’ booze is precedent/As the evening starts to glow.”
I grab another cup of Bulleit and settle by the stage for New Myths, the first band to hit the stage. New Myth’s music is alluring in its ability to be at once aggressive and subtle. The three-piece band strikes an interesting balance between indie electronica and blues-infused riffs. Lead vocalist and guitarist Brit Boras exercises such command over her voice. Drummer Rosie Slater and bassist Marina Rose provide rhythmic depth. “False Gold,” which the group saves for the last, is one of the more alluring tracks in the New Myths’ catalog. I see people in the audience lip-synching the title of that song, which resonates throughout the back room of Cameo.
Psychic Twin, the next artist to play live, enthralls the audience with her dreamy electro-pop. Entering her world is like falling into a hallucination: her music is characterized by bits of introspection and spatial expansion. On “Stranger,” a delightfully spooky and fantastical new wave throwback, Psychic Twin is at her top form—mysterious and curious all at once. Her live act is all the more alluring, I realize, because she’s one girl (originally named Erin Fein) and her studio recordings are simply layers of melodies.
Leisure Cruise, the surprise guest artist of the evening, opens their show with “Ragged Dawn.” The song is a hypnotic force propelled by the chemistry between Dave Hodge and Leah Siegel. And it makes sense that the duo’s music seems somewhat enchanting. I learn later on that the two met briefly while working on a television set; they met again by chance sometime after Hurricane Sandy. A sporadic meeting brought about tracks as all encompassing as “Ragged Dawn” and subtle as “Believer.” Accompanied by their band, the two manage to switch between loud, aggressive and quiet, pensive with relative ease. Unsurprisingly, their self-titled 2014 record is fearless in its preoccupation with the complex, the inaccessible: the first lines of the LP are, “Super hero/Super villain.”
Motion Studies, the headliner of the event, find their way to the stage sometime after 11:00. Their music is an intoxicating, nearly absurdist brand of disco. This musical act, which is fronted by Tyler McCauley, has managed to create an electronica rendition of funk guitar. “Even If” sounds like an electric guitar was placed into a futuristic mode. This is what makes Motion Studies music seem something like “weird disco,” which is written on their Facebook. Eyeing Motion Studies onstage, I realize, I managed to speak to the bassist of the band well before the show began.
In between each set, I manage to make friends with some of the individuals that make up Pancakes and Whiskey community. Co-writers bemoaning the last Bulleit bottle; contemplative music fans with serious-looking eyes; smokers outside. I talk to them all, inquiring about the whiskey and how they learned about Pancakes. I share a cigarette and exchange favorite musical acts with the smokers outside. Just acts of intimacy—brief, spontaneous, meaningful—between total strangers who came together to drink some whiskey, hear some music, and feel the stillness.
Article by: Pam Segura
Photos by: Shayne Hanley