Cayucas with JBM @Kilby Court 06.21

Posted July 2, 2013 in
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Cayucas had Kilby Court feeling the sand between their toes as if they were on the beach. Photo: Cara Robbins

It’s a desirable thing to go to a show with no worries. Why did I have no worries for this show? Cayucas just barely released an eight-track LP that’s drenched with summer vibes via catchy bass riffs and laid-back tales about beach life. All I knew about the opener, JBM, was that he was a multi-instrumentalist out of Montreal who makes folk music. This was destined to be an easy night, and the music I heard was authentic enough to take me where the artists were mentally when they wrote the music. Those places were anywhere but the city.  

Jesse Merchant, otherwise known as JBM, is one soulful man. But he was soulful in the way a forest can be. There’s nothing pretentious about a majestic mountain view. It just has that amount of depth naturally and it can’t be hidden. This is exactly how Merchant’s folk music made me feel. It was like sitting in the forest and having a conversation with nature. His performance was such a humble offering. He sang songs that sounded like the mountains echoing all they’ve seen and withstood over time. His kick drum was the forest’s heartbeat and his voice was the mountains. He had a way of extending ohhs and oohs that stick in my memory more than anything he actually said. “When You’re Calm as a Leaf,” is the one song lyric that I remember hearing. I felt just as that lyric described while I listened to his music. Before his last song he thanked us for being a quiet audience as opposed to the “wild crowds” he had entertained along the way to our city. Even though we stood in Kilby Court’s tiny stage room, Merchant’s performance reminded me of the experience I had seeing Fleet Foxes perform at Red Butte Gardens. It was definitely on a spiritual level and I made sure to thank Merchant for his performance after his show.
The aloha shirt I wore to the show was somewhat to the likings of Merchant’s nature inspired folk music, but not as much as it was to the beach party Cayucas we’re about to bring. I wore that shirt intentionally and I made sure to invite my friends who I knew would dance with me. Cayucas frontman Zach Yudin wore a shirt that read “Excellent” with a picture of Bill and Ted from “Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure.” The three band members standing onstage each wore hi-top Converse shoes in a different color. These guys were out to have a good time, and as hip as their clothing sounds I don’t believe for one second they were worried about being cool.
They opened with the first track off their new album, “Cayucos,” and it’s a no shoes, dancing in the sand rocker. The rock n’ roll style drums are fast, but they’re steadied with playful guitar licks and Yudin’s stress-melting lyrics, “Come on catch that wave.” As I’m doing my thing, dancing like I’m on the beach, I notice some additional harmonies and electric guitar riffs. I found out after the show that the band just lost their keyboard player and they had just picked up an additional guitar player. The addition fit quite nicely and added a preview to what future Cayucas recordings might sound like. It’s that kind of preview that makes shows so worthwhile. You find out how good of musicians the artists really are, and occasionally you hear unreleased material. Lucky for us Cayucas played a new song called “California Sunshine” and it was just as easy to groove to as the songs off the new album. “Deep Sea Diver” is one of their more mellow tracks on the album, and it sounded so lush live. The guitar riffs were soaked in reverb and had much more emphasis than on the album.
The ultimate highlight of this show had to be the dancing. The two songs that brought out the most in me were “High School Lover” and “Bigfoot.” The former has a fast-paced bass section that allowed me to shimmy out all the lower back pain I had incurred from life’s daily stresses. As my friends and I shook and twisted all over the area just in front of the stage I saw the band members smile and laugh several times. “Bigfoot” is my favorite number off the album, and to chant “bigfoot” at the end of the song with my friends and Cayucas was just the experience I was wanting. After their set I asked the band members if we were a little too wild for them, and they said we we’re one of the danciest groups they’ve entertained. They did also mention that they had a girl bring a hula-hoop to one of their shows. I was glad to hear that they’ve had as much fun playing for their fans as we’ve had listening to them. 
The entire show was a success without any hiccups or flops. I found an artist with the ability to revive my interest in folk music, and I danced with friends to music that just makes you feel good. As the night ended, I could only think to myself, “Music has never been so easy to enjoy.”
Cayucas had Kilby Court feeling the sand between their toes as if they were on the beach. Photo: Cara Robbins