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Music Blog

CWMA 2013 Review: Spirit Master, Marinade, Night Sweats

by Sarah Kramer
- Posted // 2013-04-26 - Some City Weekly Music Awards showcases are a cohesively arranged array of local flavors designed to appeal to a particular musical palate. Others, like last night’s show at The Complex, are the culinary equivalent of shoving an entire fistful of jellybeans in your mouth with gleeful abandon: safely daring, a little unpredictable and sweetly surprising.

The three-band lineup at The Complex started the evening tasting contemporary, featuring a strange but compelling combination of styles mixed liberally in the same simple four-piece (Spirit Master). The next course featured a hearty serving of saxophone and bongos, bringing the musical feel back a decade to when ska still represented the last remaining bastion of late 1990s alty-jam-rock (Marinade). The smooth finish came as a rich-but-petite serving of heavy synthesizers and 1980s vocals (Night Sweats).

A sort of local super group comprised of members of Mathematics Et Cetera, Band of Annuals and The Devil Whale, Spirit Master was in the unenviable position of playing the first set. Undeterred, the band rocked on with their bad selves, playing a genre-bending set that showed off the members’ technical abilities and predilection for noise of all kinds. I caught hints of math rock, contemporary drone and distortion, a touch of punk around the vocals and, as CW’s esteemed music editor and CWMA guru, Austen Diamond, pointed out, shoegaze.

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I’m not going to lie to you and pretend I know which songs Spirit Master played, though I’m listening to their Bandcamp right now and could probably give an educated guess. I will say this, though: Spirit Master has a unique style, an energetic stage presence and at least one badass sweater. Their best moments are found in mathy cacophony and angrily shouted swear words. If I can return to my jellybean metaphor, the band tastes like a mouthful of pear, popcorn and cinnamon. It’s weird, and you have to chew it for a while, but eventually you start to come around to the wild oscillation between cohesion and discord.

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Next up was Marinade (pictured below). The jellybean people don’t make a jerk-chicken jellybean, but if they did I would declare it the flavor of the band. But remember, we ate a whole fistful of jellybeans -- no sorting, no carefully crafted ratios to create specific, non-jelly flavors. The tastes range from a reggae-infused jerk chicken and tropical fruit to the incense your first boyfriend burned while you made out to Sublime.

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Marinade is a seriously fun, big and diverse band with a sound that comes straight from roots reggae and ska. The band’s defining feature is the delightfully raspy voice of singer Talia Keys, who jumped from electric mandolin to guitar and then to the drum kit within the space of a 45-minute set. Keys manages to hold down not only the beat but the banter, announcing birthdays and offers of shots. Both Marinade and the crowd were fun to watch and more diverse than you usually see at any particular concert, but I guess that’s reggae for you: It’s all about the love, man, and some easy skankin’. Add two dashes of anti-status-quo political messaging and a couple of classic covers (holla Cisco Kid!), and you’ve got the makings for a respectable local representative of ska on the local scene (and a good hire for your next rally/protest/hackey sack playoffs.)

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Last, but definitely not least, Night Sweats took the stage. The crowd had nearly vanished after Marinade (more on that in a minute), but the loss was theirs. Night Sweats was easily my favorite band of the night: heavy, concentrated synthesizers and drum machines with a lead singer who seems to have been beamed in straight from the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie.

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The six-piece feels deeply in sync. It’s hard to get such a large group to play with one voice, and once you do that the band has to keep from sounding too droney. Night Sweats walks this balance impressively. The sound is as solid as a tidal wave, but synth and guitar flourishes keep the sound from becoming monotonous. Night Sweat’s use of drum machines doesn’t feel like a cop-out, it feels like the horizon in a landscape painting: unobtrusive, but necessary for completing the picture. (It helps that each of the synth players have a drum of their own to keep the beat interesting.) Dark but danceable, Night Sweats are an unapologetic ‘80s throwback band that still manages to feel fresh. As it was past midnight on a Thursday and the majority of the crowd disappeared, the group didn’t play a full set, but promised that the few songs they did play would be their best. They didn’t disappoint in that regard.

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Night Sweats tastes like smudged eyeliner and cocaine washed down with cheap gin. Is that a jellybean flavor? No? Maybe it should be.

Some reviewers might complain about the shortened set, but I plan on seeking out the Night Sweats for another show at some point.

Which in some ways brings me to something I touched on above, albeit awkwardly. This is the second CWMA showcase I’ve been to this year, and at both shows over half the audience bailed after the second set. The bands have worked hard to get where they are—they were nominated by CW for their talent, drive and what they bring to the grand buffet table (or drug-laced jellybean bag) of the Salt Lake City music scene. It’s really great to have your friends nominated, and you have every right to be excited for them, to show up and vote. In fact, I wholeheartedly encourage it. But I also would encourage you, the audience, to stay for at least the first song or two of the band immediately after your friends. I know it’s late on a Thursday, and that’s hard. I know you have other things to do, like go congratulate your friends some more and vote for them 50 times on the City Weekly website. That’s cool, but remember that the band coming on after your buddies also worked really hard to be where they are. Just like your friends, who are awesome, CW staff nominated them because they thought they deserved to be there. Seriously, hang around for the extra 15 minutes--you might discover another great local band, or you might discover a new object of deep musical loathing. You’ll never know unless you try.

Photos by Dom Darling.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 26,2013 at 17:20

Thanks for your feedback, ladies. I get that there are multiple perspectives and I get that it's a competition. Marinade did a great job of bringing the funk and the fans, and yes, it was a Thursday. Still, I don't think asking people to stay for just one song from an unknown band is asking too much. I honestly don't know what happened with the Night Sweats thing, I think everyone (including NS) thinks last night was a little weird. That's okay, it happens.

Also, please don't feel like I'm singling Marinade or their fans out. This happened at the other showcase I went to as well, and I felt really bad for the final band who gave it their all despite the drastically diminished crowd. It's really meant as more of a general comment- I see the same sort of behavior at open mics and other shows, and it's disappointing on all fronts.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 26,2013 at 16:41

I second Talia's comment.   Since it is a competition then the bands need to promote (which Marinade did very well).   As I have been lucky to be a part of a winning CWMA band (The Debi Graham Band) I know the importance of getting people out there.   Marinade's fans are awesome but also remember: Marinade is one of, if not THE hardest working band in SLC.   The fact that you can see a Marinade show at least once a week in this city shows they are out there making it happen for themselves.   Fans of their's are already going out to support so much local music.   Perhaps the other bands could be as supportive.   And frankly, it was Thursday night.   It's Utah.   The math is obvious.   :) Other than that good review.   I'm rootin' for my girl Talia!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 26,2013 at 15:49

Thank you Sarah for the awesome review of all three bands. I'm the lead singer of Marinade. We had a grand time playing at the Awards showcase last night.  

That being said, I have a few comments about your comments on the crowd. I agree that more of them could have and definitley should have stayed for the Night Sweats. They were awesome. Yet, besides the usual circumstances (thurs night, jobs, kids etc) there was more at play than just wanting to support your friends and no one else.

To be fair and honest the Night Sweats didn't bring much of a crowd. I also personally felt they threw in the towel by playing a short set and stating that they were, so we can go to bed. It seemed as if they didn't want to play for our fans. You get back what you put in. Their set was aweosme and had me dancing, and I had my friends who were there come up to me and say they really liked them. We even talked about how cool they would be at Desert Rocks. We also chanted for an encore. So the little amount that stuck around showed support.

 If City Weekly expects our fans to stick around for the other band. . shouldn't we expect that the other band bring people to check us out. . Alot of our fans came out after our set to help us break down, alot had to go home, and the people that did stay were mostly Marinade fans and friends. People are kind of like sheep, escpecially at a bar. If the Night Sweats had more people out to support them, I think our fans would have had more interest in catching their set. I also think if the other bands had shown interest in our set, more of our fans would have shown interest in theirs.  

That being said, I'm not trying to attack the Night Sweats. I'm disapointed that SLC doesnt come and support more local music, but why dog on the ones that actually do come out.  On a thursday night, paid $5, paid for expensive drinks, danced their faces off, voted, and supported the City Weekly. Our frineds and fans have shown so much support for us, and other local bands in our scene. I want to thank them for coming out last night! I hope they really did vote 50 times online after the show!! Thanks again we are honored to be a part of the CWMA's! 

 

 
 
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