Unfortunately, no eye candy in this review, because as anyone who goes to the Ken Club knows, there are maybe four lights above the stage and all of them are a dim red. The ceiling are high and all the walls are black, so there is absolutely nothing for me to bounce a flash off of indirectly. And I refuse to lug all my camera equipment to a show only to end up taking photos with direct flash, the kind that pretty much anyone can take with a simple point-and-shoot camera.
But even though my eyes got the night off, my ears were still on the job. This was my first time seeing The Sundelles. I liked their music, but something about them just seemed…awkward. Sluggish. Maybe because they were the first band of the evening, maybe because they have two new members in the band (a fact that Emily of The Muslims alerted me to), maybe because there simply wasn’t enough stage room for the lead singer to dance around like he was trying to. I’d go see them again, for sure, but in a slightly better venue.
Lights On were up second, and I had already seen them once at the Beauty Bar (no photos from that show, either). Their sound is solid, but just extremely derivative of a type of music that just isn’t my bag. Point in fact was when they started playing one of their songs and I turned to Pete and said, “I feel like I could start singing ‘I’ll stop the world and melt with you,” and it would fit right in.” He concurred, and even expanded it to several other songs of theirs. I’m not hating on the band, they are all talented musicians, it’s just really not my thing. It was very dancey though, and they had their fair share of audience members paying attention.
In between bands, Joe from the Roman Spring was DJing, and I must say, this lent a bit of continuity to the night. I’m not really a fan of the band-jukebox-band dynamic that usually exists in the Ken, so it was nice to hear one person picking the records played, as opposed to any random person with some extra change.
Third band of the night was The Swedish Models. I’ve seen most of their shows so far, and they are always really really good. That being said, this show sounded the worst. I just can’t ignore any longer the fact that the acoustics at the Ken Club are just…awful. It’s like the music is echoing off all the walls and the ceiling because there’s no padding to absorb it. Everything sounds muddled and muffled, even while the absolute sound level is LOUD. The owner really needs to decide if he wants the place to be a real venue or a bar. I appreciate having the option of both, and I really do like the Ken (cheap drinks!), but it’s a weird space. The bar is more of a hallway, so I can’t see going there to hang out with more than one or two people, and the band space is a) hot, b) loud, and c) not really a service to whoever is playing.
I know that The Swedish Models sound great. I just worry that other people in the venue, who may have been seeing them for the first time and may not realize how crappy the sound in the Ken is, might not realize that. As Pete said (and it was his first time seeing them, minus two songs at the House Party), “They sound as good as a band possible can at the Ken Club.” It’s just a shame that, as they broke into “Victoria Prescott Eastgate” and I turned to Pete to tell him, “This is my favorite song of theirs,” Dusty started singing but we couldn’t hear a thing. Apparently he couldn’t even hear himself, because during a break in his vocals, he jumped down from the stage to pick up his monitor and put it up on the stage with him. After that he sang a bit louder, but still. It’s great to have venues for local bands to play, but the venues should at least try to do the bands justice.
After the Models’ set, The Muslims were up. Again, they sounded as good as any band could in that venue, but by this point of the night I was really dragging. Their songs really make me want to dance, but that in turn was making me realize how little energy I had left to do so, so we headed out before they ended. There were still a decent number of people in the venue supporting them at that point, which made me happy. San Diego really does have a lot of local talent going for it these days.