Monday, July 16 , 2018, 11:41 pm | Fair 66º


Paul Mann: KJEE Summer Roundup Offers More Bang for the Buck

Annual concert treats fans on a budget to a full evening of music from five bands

For a majority of music fans in a struggling economy, the astronomical rise of ticket prices has pushed many high-end concerts out of reach for their tight budgets. Like many Southern California venues, concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl are no exception to the hyper-inflated ticket prices. But last Friday, the 92.9 KJEE radio station came to the fiscal rescue with its annual Summer Roundup concert.

Not only did the show offer a full evening of music with five bands on the bill, but tickets for the show cost well below the $50 mark, making live music accessible to the masses.

Missing were the state-of-the-art massive video screens and latest high-tech LED light shows. What fans got instead was a modest stage set focusing on the most important aspect of a concert — the music itself.

The day began early with local rockers Gardens & Villa receiving a coveted opening slot at 4 p.m. Two other hot new bands that have current chart-topping hits followed with short sets. Grouplove, a Los Angeles indie pop band, had the crowd on their feet for their new hit songs, including “Colours” and “Tongue Tied.” Their upbeat, happy-go-lucky sound was apparently formulated when the band first met in an artist commune on the island of Crete. New Zealand band The Naked and Famous followed, also with an accessible, upbeat, crowd-pleasing sound. The audience seemed to be particularly enamored by charismatic singer Alisa Xayalith. By the time the band reached the end of their short set, playing their 2010 hit “Young Blood,” most of the crowd was on their feet, with many in the audience singing the well-known chorus.

The ever-growing crowd had pretty much filled the Bowl by the time the afternoon sun began to wane and the most anticipated band of the day, Garbage, took the stage. The band may have stolen the show for many music fans in the audience familiar with the veteran band’s long list of hits.

Since they first came to Santa Barbara in the 1990s to play songs from their first album, they have had a strong local following. That show filled a defunct nightclub (now Dargan’s Irish Pub) so tightly that the fire marshal nearly shut down the show. The band, formed in Madison, Wis., in 1994, is a powerhouse of talent.

Drummer Butch Vig, who was already famous as the producer of one of the most important albums in rock history, Nirvana’s Nevermind), organized the group, recruiting top-talented musicians — all of whom could write songs. The group of Americans then added charismatic lead singer Shirley Manson from Scotland and the chemistry was complete.

The crowd at the Bowl greeted the band warmly and were on their feet for most of the group’s performance. The band played a string of hits that helped them sell 17 million records over the last few decades. The group periodically disbands to pursue other interests, then reunites every several years. Their new tour is in support of their latest new album, Not Your Kind of People. The band played several well-received tracks from the new offering. but the crowd went wild, even forming a makeshift mosh pit for the older hit songs, such as the 1995 hit “Only Happy When It Rains.”

As a beautiful dusk fell over the Bowl, a near full moon rose in the sky and a large fog bank offshore reflected the city lights below. The bar began to shut down early after near-record sales of alcohol created a well-oiled audience. Headliners Silversun Pickups sauntered to the stage in their unique understated style. Anyone who had been to a major music festival in the last decade was probably already familiar with this jamming rock band, known for their explosive live performances. The Silverlake band brings their own unique Los Angeles sound to the world of hard-rock jam music. Occupying a spot somewhere between The Who and The Smashing Pumpkins, it is a great place to be located for true jam rock band fanatics.

Lead singer and guitarist Brian Aubert has an eerie stage presence not unlike that of the late Jim Morrison. Auger offered up quiet, understated anecdotes about everything from his college days in Santa Barbara to his inspiration for certain songs. Then he would launch into a tune in a trancelike frenzy, full of wailing guitar and high-pitched vocals. All the while, the band behind him would play a frenzied jam, led by drummer Chris Guanlao, who at times seemed to be channeling the spirit of Keith Moon. The band played a jam-drenched 90-minute set, including material from their new album, Neck of the Woods.

The dreaded 10 p.m. curfew ended the show, but not before music fans got their money’s worth. After six hours of live music, the bill worked out to about $5 an hour for the show, giving patrons a beer budget for a change. Now, if we can just convince them to charge the same for the rest of the shows this season, then local music fans would be smiling widely. Thanks KJEE!

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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