The crowd was Slim on Monday night in San Francisco, but nonetheless excited for the bands on the bill. The hour between doors and Brick + Mortar’s performance was perforated by people wandering the venue, at a loss for what to do with the time that seemed elongated by the lack of stage action.
Once Brick + Mortar took the stage, however, they commanded the audience, asking them to come closer and to put their hands up on certain songs. Long time friends Brandon Asraf and John Tacon, didn’t behave like simply two people on stage. Instead, their movements filled the small platform and their presence emanated into the larger room with skill and ease. They kept it casual, as friends do, letting it slip that they had made some mistakes in the performance (though we wouldn’t have known otherwise).
The reaction from attendees at Slim’s was mild — most people bobbed their heads and some people sang along. Brick + Mortar closed out their not-quite-long-enough set with crowd-favorite “Bangs,” which got everyone in the room singing along before they cleared their gear and hand-made @Brickandmortar sign off the stage to make way for the headliner.
After the show we spoke briefly with John and Brandon; they talked about their steady upward climb over the years. On only their fourth tour and without a full-length album yet, they feel excited about what’s to come. The woes of label signing and dropping don’t intimidate them; they haven’t yet experienced a downward spiral, and they’re gaining fans each time they hit the road. We also joked about the confusion between them and the venue of the same name here in San Francisco.
“We came first for sure — we have the twitter name,” they laughed. The pair shared that it gives them a chance to mess with people who couldn’t distinguish between whether they had been at a venue, or inside the band members… awkward, but funny. (For the record, @BrickMortarsf is the venue.)
Shortly thereafter, Kenny Vasoli and company, better known as Vacationer from “Chilladelphia,” started their set with a toned down version of “Trip.” Despite starting quietly, the band quickly picked up as Vasoli danced around the stage swinging his bass and causing the crowd to both laugh and dance in response (in a slightly diluted version of his excitement).
The audience seemed to get more involved as the band switched from different parts of the “chill coaster” to the “ramp up,” as they called it, but Kenny was still hands-down leader of the dance team that evening. The performance lent itself to a rock-ier live version of the more refined album. Combining the chill backbeats that Vacationer are known for in the studio and taking advantage of the vibraphone Vasoli referenced in our pre-show interview, the audience was also given a peek into his prior pop-rock experience with heavy drum and bass layering.
Vasoli was also a quotable man Monday evening, spouting off great retorts to enthusiastic and/or tipsy audience members. To those in the front row who dared to peer at the set list hoping there were more songs to come, he responded: “We’re not crazy about the encore tradition… what the fuck is the point of leaving the stage if you wanna hear more music?” The crowd cheered excitedly at the promise of several more danceable jams to fill their night.
Both bands descended from the stage and hung out with crowd members for a while after the show was over; the fans were clearly hesitant to leave. Vasoli let on to us that he definitely feels he’s on the right track with his music career, that he’s where he should be. He also noted that he couldn’t wait to play another show in the Bay Area (you can catch him next time he’s back!).
Though it was a Monday night, the two bands created a great mix of different sounds and genres that seemed to speak to the small audience that had trekked out to Slim’s.
Check out the photos we snapped while enjoying their performances.
Article by Sam Putt
Photos by Edfil Dulay