Show Date: August 17, 2002
With the post-Hypatia Lake glows upon our cheeks, the Girls emerged from our collective blissed-out musical haze to notice the next band playing was actually hosting their CD release party that night. Who would possibly want to follow up the glory of Hypatia Lake…?
As it turned out, Saeta would. Not only did they show up with a cello, piano, and acoustic guitar, they also gave away free candles, t-shirts, and matches to promote their latest CD, Resign to Ideal.
The music started, low and amber, shadowy and mellow. Saeta features Matt Menovcik on guitar and vocal, Lesli Wood on piano and vocals, and Bob Smolenski on cello (mmm, cello). My ears perked up, intially intrigued. Subtle and somber, I thought that I'd discovered my second favorite mellow-rific local band (with Carissa's Wierd obviously holding the oh-so-sadness top spot). And yet… after a few songs… something was lacking in the empty spaces between the lovely melodies and heartrending harmonies, a void that left me hollow emotion to their melodies, unresponsive to the darkened images and sad words.
They sound like the french vanilla candles they gave away. Marketing genius, I say. Like the candle, they are not overtly sweet, sultry, safe yet the undertones of the music is spicy and enveloping. It is amazing what a cello and ambiance can do.
Saeta's last album was produced by Kramer (Bongwater, Low, Galaxie 500, Luna), which leads me to wonder if their recorded albums sound more evocative than their live performance. I likewise have felt a similar sense of unfullfilled expentancy when seeing Low play live; perhaps the same is true for Saeta?
Saeta reminded me of a really great kiss on a really great first date from a really great guy… who you're just not all that attracted to. Technically, they were all excellent musicians, they were sensitive and dreamy and dark… but I personally just felt no chemistry. It's one of those intangibles, a lack of personal passion. I'm sure someone else would have gone out with this guy… er, I mean band, and developed instant infatuation. In fact, some members of the audience already appeared pretty enamored.
Matt's voice sounded astonishingly like Eric Bachmann from Crooked Fingers, gritty and gravelly and deep…
I can't decide what to feel. One minute I am swaying with every tug on the cello's bow, the next I am befuddled by their Crooked Fingers impression. During the first two songs of every Crooked Fingers show I've been to, those audience members who have never seen them before look around in astonishment and whisper to one another about the fact that the lead singer's voice sounds just like Neil Diamond's. By the third song however, any comparison is irrelevant because CH's lyrics, musicianship, and emotion with which they play blow Neil out of the water.
So, if you use the transitive property of vocals, you could say that:
If Saeta sound like Crooked Fingers and, Crooked Fingers' vocals sound like Neil Diamond's vocals, then Saeta sounds like Neil Diamond.
I guess this is true as I left the Saeta show wanting to hear Neil belt out "(Coming to) America."