Alex’s Bar Long Beach, CA
Contact: [email protected]
Players: Dylan Dickerson, guitar, vocals; Cam Powell, bass; Marc Coty, drums; Pat Mertens, guest guitar
Material: On the eve of a tropical storm in SoCal, the air is hanging heavy, a dark vibe of anticipation somehow hanging over everything like smog over asphalt in 100 degree weather. Somehow, the lo-fi indie rock of Columbia, South Carolina’s Dear Blanca is the perfect soundtrack to the weird mood. There’s an occasional folk lean, sometimes it’s a bit shoegaze, but songs such as the opening “Overpass,” “Moving to Texas” and “Joint Effort” are too memorable to fit that latter sub-genre comfortably. Still, when friend of the band Pat Mertens joins them to run through Dinosaur Jr.’s “Feel the Pain,” it sounds perfectly fuzzy and scuzzy. They get quirkier during “A-Ha,” when they play an excerpt from the Norwegian synth-pop band’s classic “Take on Me.” There’s more than one string to this bow.
Musicianship: Frontman Dylan Dickerson is blessed with a wonderful post-punk wail. The man can alternate between “I don’t care” and “I care too much” on a whim, and the stop-start, curveball nature of the schizophrenic noise means that it all works perfectly. Musically, all three band members manage to wrestle genuine emotions, feelings, out of their respective instruments. Even when they’re playing slowly, the intensity is high.
Performance: As one might expect from a band at this corner of the rock spectrum, there’s not much here in the way of a “show.” They barely move, they just stand in their designated positions and play the hell out of songs such as “Temporary Solution,” “Seasoned Veteran” and “Out to Pasture.” But Dickerson is a fun ringmaster, holding court by engaging with the small but enthusiastic crowd. By the time they get to final song “Boulders,” the people at the venue to see the other two bands on the bill may well have been converted. They certainly made a few new friends.
Summary: It can be hard to be an out-of-town band in the middle of a bill, but Dear Blanca acquitted themselves admirably. They did what they clearly know how to do best—they took their positions, plugged in, and played their songs with all of the passion that they could muster. The songs have a bit of an onion vibe—the more layers you peel off, the more you reveal. But that’s a great thing for longevity. Give Dear Blanca a chance and they’ll bury their barbed wire melodies in you and never let go.
– Brett Callwood