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EMA at The Casbah

Former Gowns frontwoman throws down in Little Italy

EMA

EMA

Courtesy Melissa Gibbons
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On Friday October 14, EMA (the solo project of Erika M. Anderson) made a San Diego stop on her US tour at the Casbah.  Anderson was part of the noise-folk duo Gowns, and started writing and recording her solo material in 2010 shortly after Gowns broke up.  Her first full-length, Past Life Martyred Saints, was released earlier this year on Souterrain Transmissions Records.

Local bands Divers and Little Deadman opened the show.  Probably because the crowd was thin and it was a Friday night, Divers started their set even later than the Casbah’s normally late set time.  Divers are a two-piece that must be relatively new, as internet searches come up with no hits on the band.  They do a slower, darker take on the reverb-laden My Bloody Valentine sound, with female vocals/keyboards and a guy on bass.  The sound was raw and a little rough around the edges, but will probably smooth out over time, making Divers another local band to watch out for. 

Next up was local band Little Deadman, who were an interesting choice as an opener for the more experimental sound of EMA.  Little Deadman was proficient at the currently popular surf-rock sound, but ended up sounding one-dimensional after a few songs.  Little Deadman has several releases on Single Screen Records.

EMA and her touring band took the stage close to midnight to a fairly subdued crowd, and played a set that at times smoldered, but at other times seemed rushed.  There is always the chance that the feedback loop between the band and the crowd doesn’t quite match up, and this seemed to be happening.  The songs “California”, “Marked”, and “Butterfly Knife” really hit the spot.  EMA have been covering the Violent Femmes song “Add it Up” on their tour, but the band managed to make it sound as visceral as it should be. 

At times Anderson roamed through the crowd with her guitar, at other times she focused on her vocals, stalking around the stage with pent up energy.  She ended “Butterfly Knife” with her guitar behind her back, singing the refrain ‘twenty kisses with a butterfly knife’ over and over, her bleach-blond hair obscuring her face.  Anderson is a captivating performer to watch, although EMA didn’t return to the stage for an encore. A few excited fans approached Anderson to compliment her on the set, hopefully leaving her with a positive impression of the San Diego crowd. 

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  • Rating: 2 of 5