By Mandi Kimes
The stage in the Sunset Tavern was filled with color from top to bottom with two projections of lava lamp inspired film on the walls. Sugar Candy Mountain took to the stage, looking like they stepped of the VW Bus from 1970s. One of the guitarists was even dressed like a wizard. The people up front were dancing, but there were maybe forty people scattered throughout the club.
Their first song sounded like a medley of three songs mashed together, but their style is that of a jam band: lots of instrumentation, minimal singing, and chordal repetition with melodic differentiation. I’ll admit: at first it was hard to hear Ash Reiter’s vocals underneath all the jangly guitars. A bit of feedback showed up throughout the first two songs, but it wasn't terrible.
This next song was a dreamy mellow ballad, the kind of tune that you would listen to as you roll down the windows and coast through the desert. I’m pretty sure most of the songs they played are newer and are hopefully on the next album. I could hear Reiter’s vocals now, but she sings a little whispered. After an awkward transition of figuring out what to play next, the band moved into another ballady song, this one more somber sounding. The bass melody carries the song as it moves up and down the fret. This song is just a bit too slow and dreamy, especially after the last one. I'm hoping the next song wakes me up.
And that it did. They started playing “Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit,” the first track from their Mystic Hits album. This song is just what I needed. The title of the song is a Latin phrase from the book Lonesome Dove, meaning “a bunch of grapes ripen in the presence of another bunch of grapes.” The audience is dancing up front and, between them and the projections on stage, the show is very visually stimulating.
One thing I will point out is that the band needs to work on their transitions between songs: when they move from one song to another, it’s perfect, but when they stop and turn and figure out which song is next, it takes too long and the audience begins to lose its vibe. The next song moved into Jimi Hendrix territory: the guitarist had that buzzing whirring guitar sound happening. This song was groovin’ and had a slow funky beat, the kind you’d hear if you mixed Kevin Parker’s drumming with Ringo Starr. The bass line on the higher frets sounds like the melody on “Runway House City Clouds” from Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker. Some of the guitar melodies even sound like the “Blue Jay Way” melody. The time signature changes and rhythmic changes amplify the excitement of this band.
You wouldn't be able to tell that the Seattle Seahawks lost today with how much fun everyone's having. If I could pinpoint a visual genre for this band, it would be: Alice in Wonderland trapped in a lava lamp or Pepperland from The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine. Aurally, it was what Grace Potter would sound like if she dipped into a collaboration with Kevin Parker, Ringo Starr and Temples.