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LIVE REVIEW: Dark Dark Dark

Photo courtesy Lori Sokolowski
Photo courtesy Lori Sokolowski
Lori Sokolowski

Last Friday’s show at UCSD’s The Loft played host to a tour package of extraneous instrumentation and an all-hands-on deck philosophy of tour personnel. With three bands all featuring accordion and a jaunty conviction to power them, the night started with New Orleans’ Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? Walt McClements’ raspy voice lead the seven person band’s mix of marching horns and upright bass. Though steeped in one of the cultural birthplaces of jazz and blues Why chooses to mostly disown their birthright. Think of a “Puttin’ on the Ritz” mantra if it were inundated with gypsy folk and forced to live in swampy woods of Louisiana.

Portland’s Y La Bamba was next, in Spanish meaning “and the Bamba”, Bamba being the famous dance which Ritchie Valens made popular in the late fifties. This was to be the last night for Y La Bamba on the tour package before entering a divergent routing. Their set steered the night in a more Latin direction as the pair of Luzelena Mendoza and Ben Meyercord’s call and response vocals sometimes slipped into bilingualism. By far the most percussion equipped, the songs feature two percussionists each at a minimalistic labor rather than only a live drummer. Band members freely traded off between instruments including ukulele and clarinet but without the distracting busyness within the songs you might expect.

Dark Dark Dark’s set featured the same propensity of instrument swapping, but in yet another individual elaboration on the multi-instrumental format. Dark’s sometimes distinguished chemistry fits well under the tag ‘Chamber Folk’ as it’s spacey timing allows for the full flourish of the other instruments. Vocalist Nona Invie’s twinkling of the keys was not without a beginning plea for PayPal donations so she could afford a new keyboard. Invie’s personal lyrics have a haunting cadence until the band choruses, there she takes a more airy and sedative quality. After she moved to the accordion for a showing of dexterous fingers, banjo and clarinet player Marshall LaCount continued the band’s laughable requests coupled with flamboyant leanings towards the males in the audience. Like the admittance of a lack of funds, Dark’s vulnerability of expression is displayed throughout, even in their willingness to show their own bare asses on the album cover.

Photos by Lori Sokolowski


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  • Venue: UCSD Campus, San Diego