Venue: The Mint
City: Los Angeles, CA
Material: The set list is a balance of slow ballads and uptempo rock tunes. The sounds are reminiscent of Gram Parsons and The Byrds on originals like “Prize Winner.” In spite of the predominately Americana sound, the group mixes things up with a surprising shift towards, music with a darker alternative pop edge similar to the Pixies or even the Cure on songs like “Hollywood Angel” and “Fools Paradise.” Lyrically the songs gravitate towards the sentiments of revisiting lost loves. There is a lot of imagery especially on the very catchy “This Innocence,” where frozen ponds and baptismal rivers seem to be metaphors for spiritual awakening.
Musicianship: The group does their best to bring down tempos and slowly build the musical compositions. Smith gets the chance to channel his inner Ray Manzarek on “Wild China Tree” but unfortunately his levels are pretty low throughout the set. Zimmon makes frequent but good use of his whammy bar on “Fools Paradise” while getting something of a lap steel sound from his guitar on “Prize Winner.” This song also features solid breaks and tight melodic bass lines from Bakken. Beam strips down his sound accordingly for lighter tempo songs like “Forever Mine” and “This Innocence” where he incorporates both brushes and egg shakers.
Performance: Given that this music is lyric heavy, Beier does take the appropriate time to introduce songs. Unfortunately, she seems to struggle to be heard in the mix once they start. She takes her guitar off frequently throughout the performance and works the stage well, as she takes to only focusing on vocals. Beier also takes the time to introduce her band and promotes her current album. Surprisingly, the choice was made to exclude from the set some stronger songs from that album including “Freedom Island” and “Mayan Sun” which would have strengthened the overall performance.
Summary: While Zimmon is arguably the showcase of the band, providing loads of great lead solos, the group can stand to work on tempering to give even time to highlight each musician. The group overall excel at their finales, especially on songs like “Hollywood Angel.” Beier herself is definitely riding the wave of the current Americana trend but shows a more serious promise for rock and alternative on songs like “She’s Gone” as her vocals are more conducive to that genre.
The Players: Tara Beier, vocalist; Tripp Beam, drums; Ricky Bakken, bass; Adam Zimmon, guitar; Sasha Smith, keyboard.
Photo by Kevin Riggin