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  THE SEA & CAKE w/ Califone  
  The Henry Fonda Theatre  
  Los Angeles, CA  
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A seasonal downpour and my first ever subway ride in L.A. brought us to The Henry Fonda Theatre right on time to catch a show I've been waiting on for months. This venue has changed drastically since my last visit, getting rid of the theatre seating in favor of an open floor with balcony seating only. The venue was mostly full when we arrived, and Califone has just started their set.

Standing under the balcony, the sound was incredibly muffled and flat but walking out on to the floor brightened it up plenty and the sound was great. Califone, who's first Thrill Jockey record comes out the next week, played mostly older songs from their Perishable releases Roomsound and the collection of EPs Sometimes Good Weather.... They are a country/bluegrass-based experimental band from Chicago formed from the remnants of Red Red Meat. They use everything from violin to banjo and electric guitars combined with dual drummers, who add even more complex rhythms behind simple county melodies.

They played several new songs, which were all well received. Even though a large percentage of their songs are incredibly lethargic, they advisably keep their live show more upbeat. All the new songs except Slower Twin, which only developed slowly, kept the crowd going and wanting more. Since the last time i saw them, their sound has become more electric, and consequently louder and more dynamic. And unlike previous tours, they have begun to experiment more with sound and feedback. I can't recommend going to see Califone enough.

The Sea & Cake brought their interesting brand of indie oriented jam sound to the floor and the crowd danced into the night. They had the normal band set up with guitar, bass, drums, and programmer/keys in the background. I actually really wasn't expecting an indie dance show, and all of the people i went along with felt a little let down by the show. We were expecting to see a Tortoise-esque show of complex prog jazz post-rock, but instead we got a Phish-like happy good time jam performance complete with girls dancing around barefoot and yes, even spinning. Even so, the music was decent, and at least the songs were not fifteen or twenty minutes long like they would have been at a real Phish show. As their set approached it's end, the songs and approach changed and it was a lot easier to enjoy. Stronger hooks certainly played a part in the change of general feeling. Early songs seemed to just progress, whereas the later songs went somewhere interesting musically. My friends who were big fans even mentioned to me how much more they enjoyed the last songs than the early part of the show.

I'd say that this was an average show, complete with raving lunatic-fringe hipsters and drunkards along with quality music and a great atmosphere to balance it all out. The real downer for the night for me was the Sea & Cake's performance. I guess there's a void in touring jam bands at the moment, and i already know people dropping out to follow The Sea & Cake around the country.... Just kidding! I'd recommend seeing this tour at least to see Califone, then you can take an extra long smoke break between bands and catch the second half of the Sea & Cake's set.

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