I really can't say enough about the Belly Up in Solana Beach. The sound is superb and the food is tasty along with a laid back vibe. I saw the billboard at the Belly Up a few days ago while at Rogue Wave advertising Super Furry Animals. I was going to miss their show due to a concert conflict in Los Angeles but once I saw that Holy F*ck and Free Moral Agents were opening, I didn't want to have a case of missed show regret.
Free Moral Agents
Free Moral Agents seemed very familiar from the start. This was in part due to Ikey Owens (Keyboards) who happens to be a member of Mars Volta and a fixture on the Long Beach music scene. I also recognized some members of the band as they have been known to work at Fingerprints records. Free Moral Agents were a swirl of heavy psychedelic jazz fusion keyboard rock. Ikey was simply dazzling on his Korg keyboard seemingly improvising every note when he wasn't peeling off complex runs. The supporting cast was equally talented led by the vocal talents of Mendee Ichikawa (Vocals) who seemed to let the music encompass her as she was lost in the music. I felt bad seeing a band from Long Beach for the first time in San Diego. I guest it is never too late to see good bands.
Holy F*ck almost set the place on fire. I mean that literally and figuratively as the house monitors were smoking early in their set. Holy F*ck is a band that you have to see live in order to fully appreciate their inventiveness. I was impressed even before they played a note due to the sheer amount of gear that they had set up. It was a Casio keyboard paradise topped with a 35mm film synchronizer. The opening synthesizer beeps of "The Pulse" filled the air at the Belly Up and the idle chatter of the drinking patrons was halted to a silence. Graham Walsh and Brian Borcherdt looked like two kids opening up their christmas presents as they played with their assortment of keyboards and effect pedals. The great thing about seeing them live is the improvisation factor is enormous with the amount of tweaking they perform on their songs. "Holy Gregory" was stretched out live with various sound effects tossed into the mix and carried mightily by the live drums and Gibson Ripper basslines. I have always had a soft spot for the Postal Service sampling Super Mario Bros but have to tip the hat to Holy F*ck for sampling Pole Position in "Safari". "Lovely Allen" was from outer space with synths reigning supreme. Ikey Owens also jumped onstage to add his own synth madness to their songs only making my head spin faster. I now understand why they call themselves Holy F*ck. This is because that it was my reaction after watching their set.
Super Furry Animals
The smoke from Holy F*ck's set finally cleared to give way to the psychedelic haze of the Super Furry Animals. The Super Furry Animals are touring in support of their album "Hey Venus!" which was also released as an expanded version. Instead of diving head first into the psychedelic, the Super Furry Animals opted for an electronica sway of "Slow Life" as Gruff Rhys (Vocals/Guitars) donned his Mighty Morphin Power Ranger looking mask and made his way into the crowd. "The Gateway Song " was next on the set and was more of what I was expecting from the band as they quickly transitioned to "Run-Away". Gruff was impressive hitting all the high notes on "Run-Away" vocally while making playing the guitar look effortless. "Neo Consumer" was almost a straight forward rock song in the skewed universe of the Super Furry Animals. "Receptacle for the Respectable” even had Gruff munching carrots on stage to recreate Paul McCartney's part on the song. "Hello Sunshine" was easily the most well received song of the set and had the whole room swaying softly. I was extremely glad I caught this show at the Belly Up and would only have minor show regret for missing the Los Angeles date.