I hadn’t been to Kilby in about a month, but I can never stay away for too long. I had been looking forward to seeing my friends Sariah’s Kiss play their first show, and I was really excited to hear that they and Super 78! were going to be opening for the Brooklyn indie pop band, The Babies.
Sariah’s Kiss is Salt Lake’s newest, and cutest, twee band. Being a massive fan of indie-pop and all things twee, I was super excited for the official debut Sariah’s Kiss. The opening slot for The Babies was their first show, and they were fantastic. Twee, if you’re unfamiliar, is super cute, heart-on-your-sleeve indie-pop music made for introverted cuties by other introverted cuties. A few years back, Salt Lake’s own twee band, Sleepover, warmed hearts with super fun shows and a great LP, which was named one of 2010’s best by Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Since their break-up, Sleepover’s principle songwriter, Peter Worden, initiated a short-lived project called Together Forever in Love with Courtney Thompson, but didn’t take flight until recently when Jamie Richards and Anni Nelson, member of the now defunct indie pop band Prince Polo, joined the band, on drums and bass respectively, to form Sariah’s Kiss.
Thompson mostly sang, while Worden played guitar and sang back up on a couple of songs. Despite a dash of nerves, they sounded fantastic and looked adorable in sweaters. As they started chiming the chords of the old Sleepover tune, “And You,” I couldn’t hide the gigantic smile stretched across my face. Sariah’s Kiss’ performance hit all the right notes of great twee music–– bashful stories of kisses and crushes, funny but knowingly dangerous in its queerness. I’m really looking forward to see these cuties play music more often.
Local noise rockers Super 78! took the stage next. Lately, these guys have become tastemakers of a small but determined group of hip and stylish bands emerging in Salt Lake. I last saw them perform at Punk Rock Halloween, where they channeled Dan Treacy’s proto-twee band Television Personalities in a brilliant cover set. Their originals are less pop-oriented and of a kind more like the noisy wanderings of German Krautrockers Neu! I’m not always a fan of long, psych-jam-like music, but Super 78! songs have purpose behind their experimentation. At one point, they handed out some interactive percussion instruments (a tambourine, maracas and sleigh bells), which energized the crowd. After four long, droning songs, the guys were finished, having set up a perfect noisy foil against which The Babies’ Americana indie-pop tunes could soar.
The Babies are some of the finest suppliers of Brooklyn lo-fi indie-pop at the moment. They are essentially a two-headed beast, birthed out of the friendship of Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls, and Kevin Morby of Woods, whose circle of friends includes Dum Dum Girls, Frankie Rose and Best Coast. Taking Kilby’s modest stage, the duo, with their drummer and bassist, showcased all that I’d want to expect from a Brooklyn buzz band––effortlessly hip musicianship and great songs. They’ve just released their second album Our House on the Hill, which is a batch of tunes folksier than their earlier stuff. The crowd that hung around for The Babies was meager for a Sunday, but enthusiastic nonetheless. Morby’s voice sounds like a raspy outlaw troubadour. The duo balanced singing duties equally, creating a loud/soft pop dynamic not unlike the Pixies, Ramone being the sugary sweet antidote to Morby’s punk-tinged drawl. Ramone was slinging a bright-red Danelectro guitar that was washed over with waves of reverb for the entire set. Ramone took the lead vocals on the song “Sick Kid in the Distance,” showing off a more gruff range than her saccharine efforts in Vivian Girls. “Wild II,” sung by Morby, felt like it could be a lost Pavement B-side. The pair’s collaboration really shone through the raucous and superb duet “Breakin’ the Law.” “Meet Me in the City,” with Ramone’s backup vocals, kept that relationship strong toward the end of their set. The show ended rather modestly, a hallmark of the lo-fi punk aesthetics of bands like The Babies, Vivian Girls and Woods. The great thing about such a prolific scene as this is that one friend’s band or another will be headed out this way in the near future.