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Ilya, Skills of Ortega, and Michelle Shocked [Sep. 30th, 2003|01:23 am]
[mood |impressedimpressed]
[music |Big Sonic Chill (still!)]

This last weekend really was a busy one for me. Maybe it’s just that I usually end up just being a homebody, but the bike ride in Mexico was quite a change from that. On top of that, I went to see some great bands Sunday night.

Ilya is a local band that I’ve been hearing about for a while now. I think it started with a favorable (and intriguing) review in the San Diego Reader, and some airplay on Big Sonic Chill. I picked up a few copies of their albums, then promptly sent them off as birthday gifts.

When I saw that they were playing yesterday night (Sunday, 2003-09-28), I was excited to finally get to see them in person. To make it even better, they were playing at The Belly-Up Tavern, which is probably my favorite venue here in San Diego so far.

The show was actually three bands: Ilya, The Skills of Ortega, and Michelle Shocked. It was a stop on the Yellow Umbrella Tour, a benefit concert series for fighting cervical cancer. I was a little bummed at how few people showed up; granted, it was a Sunday show with lesser-known acts, but it is a great cause, and the music was fantastic. The people who didn’t show up missed out on a great show.

Well, except maybe for the emcee. I mostly could have done without him. (His later introductions got me laughing — dunno if it was the extra beer, or if they were actually funnier...

Ilya opened the show in wonderful style. Blanca’s even more beautiful in real life than in photos I’ve seen of her (which is saying something) — between her dress and “sexy marionette” dancing, it was a visual feast (at least for a perv like me!). The rest of the band were in Stylish Black, providing an impressive aural and visual backdrop. At one point, Blanca was singing, three of the guys in the band were wailing away on electric guitars, and the bassist and drummer were keeping time (with some weird time signatures thrown in for good measure). Fantastic.

I had never heard of Skills of Ortega before, but I have to track down more of their stuff. It managed a neat trick: the lyrics are undeniably intense and heartfelt, the music is a strange mix of Tori Amos-esque piano with a touch of happy electronica. I can’t describe it very well, but I was dancing for most of it. Continuing the perving, Christine Baze is very striking; I have no idea how she packs that powerful a voice into such a slender frame. Wonderful eyes, looks, and grins.

I’d heard of Michelle Shocked for years, but I never heard much of her work. She was in full-on folk-rock protest mode last night, and it was wonderful. “President Bush: why don’t you pull out ... like your Daddy should have!"

Her first few songs were rather laid back; a trilogy of songs about East Texas (having lived in Austin and done some driving thereabouts, I could relate!) Then three songs about trains; then three about love. Yes, she had a trilogy thing going on.

For the last few “train” and “love” songs, a couple had been dancing out on the floor. She ended up calling them up on stage and modifying one of her tunes to be a waltz. As soon as I saw them up there, I thought: “Wouldn’t it be cute if he were to propose?” ... Yup. Congrats (and a hefty “¡Que Huevos!”) to Josh and Ann, newly engaged. Michelle later spilled the beans: Josh had approached her earlier in the day, and asked her whether she would be ok with it. It was pretty cute.

shechemist will be happy to know that, while I didn’t quite run away from the attractive women, there was a very cute tall girl being a bit of a wallflower; after Josh & Ann proposed, Michelle decreed that everyone should get out and dance. This promptly sent me to the wall, where I dithered away the rest of the dance debating whether or not I should ask the tall cutie for a dance or not. Insecurity won, of course. Still, it’s vaguely reassuring that my friends know me so well.

I left a few songs later; it was getting a bit late, and I was intending to get to bed quickly. (Didn’t happen, of course, as I actually spent the next three hours writing up the bike trip of the day before!) On the way out, I stopped by the merchandise booth to buy another copy of the Ilya CD that I had sent off to a friend. Blanca was staffing the merchandise booth at the time; she really is very beautiful, and her accent is deeply charming. (Weird that I think she sounds a bit like Björk when singing, but speaks English with a very heavy Hispanic accent.)

And just to rub it in to poor deliriumdreams: Neener, neener, I got to see them first. They claim there’s another tour happening this fall; hopefully they’ll make it to ABQ again. I asked Blanca about that show, and she said they only found out it was cancelled two days before they were supposed to play — so it sounds like we weren’t the only ones caught out.

A great show, great music, many beautiful people (heck, even the waitresses were exceptionally attractive!) I wish there had been more people there, and that more of them would have joined me out on the main floor for the first two acts, but whatever.

And I found a new band I like: now I need to track down lots of music from Skills of Ortega. :)


[User Picture]From: deliriumdreams
2003-09-30 08:55 am (UTC)
I hate you. lol. If you had any clue the time and energy I spent trying to track down if they were playing at an OPEN club...

I think I'll just have to splurge and buy another one of their albums to console myself with. And some Ah-Ha, I seem to have misplaced mine. ROFL.
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[User Picture]From: tkil
2003-09-30 06:13 pm (UTC)

Something old, something new

Well, that’s what you get for living in the sticks.

And I think they only have two or three albums, anyway; Poise Is The Greater Architect, the Japanese Mini-Album, and maybe something called Composed on a Bicycle. I didn’t grab a copy of that last...

You might also see if you can find a copy of LowSunday’s Elesgiem. Would probably fit in with A-Ha, blending over into the more minimalist British electronic pop music from the ’80s (think Joy Division). Good stuff. (For that matter, the Projekt link above has it on sale for only 7 USD, so maybe just order it there...)

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[User Picture]From: deliriumdreams
2003-09-30 11:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Something old, something new

Cool. I'll have to order some when I get my first paycheck.
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[User Picture]From: rockit_grl
2003-09-30 06:01 pm (UTC)

locals only

local bands are such a treat sometimes. Even the really bad ones. I mean if you are drunk enough and say "yeah freak yeah" this concert was free only cost me 5 bucks and I still have money to drink"

in all seriousness though great local bands ar awesome and good luck on tracking down skills of ortega, if you find a place where you can listen to a sample of their music online, let me know.

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[User Picture]From: tkil
2003-09-30 06:37 pm (UTC)

Re: locals only

local bands are such a treat sometimes. Even the really bad ones.

You’re more generous than I am, I fear; if a group is really bad, I have to get away from them.

That’s why I’m so glad that I found Ilya: they’re really good, and they’re local. Kick ass. And, in about two weeks (October 9th) they’ll be playing at a bar much closer to my apartment, where they serve my favorite beer. YAY!

You’re right, though, that local bands can often be a better bang for the buck, even if they’re not that good. I like to think that I give any band a chance or two. :)

in all seriousness though great local bands ar awesome

Actually, only Ilya was local; Skills of Ortega is from Boston, and Michelle Shocked is East Texas (as she pointed out quite a few times through the evening!)

In your neck of the woods, see if Mira is playing near you anytime soon. They’re based out of Tallahassee, and play some great shoegazer pop. They have some samples at mp3.com.

if you find a place where you can listen to a sample of their music online, let me know.

I seem to remember that Skills of Ortega had some samples up on their web page... yeah:

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