On Wednesday, January 24th, I made the trek from Berkeley to Mill Valley across the Richmond Bridge in the pouring rain to experience some good times with Mild High Club. I was really committed to this concert because I hate bridges …and bridges in the rain? Fuck that, man.
There was a little bit of screaming and internal battling, but eventually, we made it to Sweetwater Music Hall — a venue that was recently reopened in 2012 after closing its doors five years prior due to renovations to the original location. Unfortunately, the landlord refused to allow the owners to rent the property after the renovations, resulting in its relocation. This didn’t seem to be a downfall. Walking into the hall, I was welcomed by its small-town, intimate feel, featuring red velvet couches and just enough space for around 100 people. It was obvious that everyone there was just trying to chill, have a beer, and smoke some kush.
Now, I’ve never really listened to Jerry Paper before except for the quick two-minute research I did on him before the concert. My first thought when seeing him on the lineup was, “Who the hell is Jerry Paper?” and I definitely wasn’t the first one with that thought. Jerry was all I ever wanted and didn’t know I needed — I knew it was meant to be when he came out wearing a yellow velvet dress and brown rounded glasses. Jerry’s jazzy background beats and simple staccato overtones are just a piece of the experience he provides. His infectious, comedic personality and commitment to interpretive dancing had me giggling through his set. He was flowing to his own vibration as he whispered into the mic, “I hope you people in the audience are feeling pure pleasure and…ecstasy.” To top it off, his music was unique: I will always appreciate classical instruments being used in different genres of music; in his band was a saxophone player who also jammed out a few flute solos. Kudos.
Right after Jerry’s creative set, everyone turned to each other with the intention to smoke. To me, Mild High Club is the kind of band you listen to while chiefing and laying on the floor in your room or the type of shit that makes a great background to a nice, sunny day. Alex Brettin, the mastermind of Mild High Club, grew up playing flute in his school concert band and also majored in Jazz Studies. In other words, he had the ultimate set of tools to create this serene, psychedelic experience. Having played flute for ten years myself, I always appreciate hearing what classically taught people come up with for the general public. As soon as they started playing, you could hear the fresh, crisp atmosphere of their sound; it honestly sounded like it was being studio recorded.
In between pounding beers, they played the sweet songs that the audience all knew and loved such as “Skiptracing” and “Tesselation” (also my personal favorites). There was an in and out flow of the songs as Mild High played in their own little world, almost as if the audience wasn’t even there. Brettin’s personality really showed through when he played psychedelic minor chords on the keyboard for the song, “Kokopelli.” Fading out from that song was a punk rock kaleidoscopic segue, creating the feeling of floating through space …or so my high ass thought. Throughout their set, I began to notice the general makeup of Mild High Club: the background is composed of solidified, major chords with a minor chord overtone melody on top. It truly is a beautiful creation.
The only aspect of Mild High Club’s show that bothered me was the lack of connection to the audience. For me, this is a big reason why I enjoy going to shows, especially ones in an intimate setting. However, Brettin barely said a word to the audience except for a soft “thank yoouu” at the end of the last song. But, you can’t expect every artist to feel comfortable with explicitly addressing the audience. After all, they are really just there to share the experience of their music. All in all, it was a great show; I would highly recommend it if you’re into a two-beer, one-joint kind of vibe.
Written by Devyn White