I have seen the future, and it is Seven Saturdays. Seeing them at The Satellite last Wednesday night (Dec. 5), at the BuzzbandsLA show, was like witnessing the birth of a whole new band, complete with womb-like lighting by Rebecca Balin that bathed the whole affair in a bluish, embryonic haze that complimented the music perfectly. Like spending time in a birth canal.
First imagined as musical odysseys from the fevered imagination of Jonathan Haskell, they have had a steady, loyal fan base and when I first saw them two years ago at the Bootleg they impressed me as one of the better ambient, space-age orchestra/band ensembles I'd ever seen. As I was already a big fan of the bands that create sweeping cinematic landscapes like Explosions in the Sky and The Album Leaf, I was a soft target.
But back to this show. I made sure to get there in time to see Auditorium (above), who were the first band of the night. Since I first saw them last March at the Bootleg (at the instigation of Kathryn Pinto who was already a fan), they have become a favorite of mine too. Absolutely flawless and precise vocal harmonies brought to life some fascinating songwriting that covered subjects from the weird to the inspirational, made vivid by sharp, expert pop melodies. Every element is in place and there is no excess fat.
At this performance, Auditorium delivered a robust set that was sonically dynamic, but sacrificed a bit of their vocal precision. The sound mix was marred by a persistent alien screech that cropped up occasionally and Spencer Berger's voice was miked a little toward the overpowering side which diminished the other voices. Don't get me wrong, I go to hear Spencer sing, but one of the beauties of this band is hearing the intricate layering of the harmonies. Maybe I was just standing in the wrong place, but it did emphasize just how important the proper sound balance is to a vocal band, particularly this one.
Sober, droning vocals rested atop a virtual ocean of varied guitar music/noise. I don't know if I've ever seen Michael play bass, but he added a steady gravity to the music and contributed vocal harmonies when needed. I would like to see them again and hear where they're going with this.
I was engaged in conversation at the other end of The Satellite when the club slowly began to fill up with blue fog, emanating from the stage. As a big fan of fog effects (the more fog, the better) it was an auspicious beginning for what was about to begin. The familiar drone that I remembered from the last time I saw them, introduced this new, different Seven Saturdays.
Emerging from the fog, Vanessa Fernandez (above) stepped into the hazy light and her voice sinuously threaded it's way into the musical miasma going on around her. A striking presence, she seems to be swimming in the air as she adds a solid foundation and point of reference for the audience, who otherwise might be overcome by all the gorgeous swirling sound.
It all added up to an enchanted evening that left me reeling for days. Jonathan Haskell has taken his band to the next step. And I, for one, intend to follow.