Two of the bands I wanted to see at SXSW but missed, Cryptacize and Citay, were in Chicago last night (March 29) for a show at the Hideout. The night started with a local act, Rock Falls, which is one of those “bands” that is basically one singer-songwriter, in this case is Annie Reese. She has a new single out (yes, an actual vinyl single) on the Cardboard Sangria, and one of her labelmates, Dan Schneider of the wonderful Singleman Affair sat in with her last night on guitar and banjo. Rock Falls play some awfully nice folk music, leaning toward the old-fashioned style that blends a bit of country with the minor chords and swooning melodies of the Great American Songbook, and Reese crooned it all in a lovely voice.
Cryptacize, an Oakland band on the Asthmatic Kitty label and includes former Deerhoof member Chris Cohen, plays an oddball sort of naive folk rock. Think of Mo Tucker singing “I’m Sticking With You” for the Velvet Underground and mix in an early Pixies guitar riff and some, well, how about the Tinklers? OK, few people are going to get that reference. Think campfire songs deconstructed. Cryptacize plays its songs in pieces. First a little drumming. Then the drumming stops and there’s a little bit of autoharp and singing. Then there’s a loud burst of guitar. Then there’s some drumming. And sometimes, it all comes together. But for the most part, it feels fragmented. It’s disconcerting and will probably drive some listeners crazy, but I loved it. When Cohen and Nedelle Torisi brought their voices together in the whimsical “Cosmic Sing-Along” for the final song, it was highly charming.
Citay, hailing from San Francisco, played music that sounded downright prog, with extended instrumental sections (not really solos, though) that included more than a little bit of Yes or King Crimson. The band’s attitude and vocals, however, sound much less pretentious and much more natural than you’d expect. I’m not sure if the epics were quite epic enough, but Citay was pretty interesting.