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West Coast, meet East Coast. East Coast, meet West Coast.
Summer started off relatively cool in Boston, but California natives Cayucas prompted a surge in the weather when the five musicians came to Boston to perform at Great Scott. Seventy degree breezes were cranked up to high nineties. The result was extracted happiness thanks to their surf-folk pop music and ticket-holders arriving early to escape the heat.
Opener Jesse Brian Marchant, whose stage name is JBM, his initials, had the colder sounds a Montreal musician like himself is expected to deliver at this point. His music was reminiscent of bigger singer-songwriters, mainly Mark Kozelek. His gentle and soft-spoken songs weren’t intended to psych listeners up for Cayucas; however, the odd difference between their two sounds was a welcome jolt.
With only one album out, Bigfoot, Cayucas manned the stage confidently; any band would if they had already played at monster festivals such as Primavera Sound in Barcelona and South By Southwest in Austin, TX. Cayucas dove into their setlist headfirst with “East Coast Girl” off Bigfoot. Content hand claps helped upbeat “Hey’s” find a middle ground which they can claim as their own, falling somewhere between a downsized Local Natives and a tired Vampire Weekend.
Their music fit the crowd considering nearly everyone was in summer clothing from the heat. It felt like we should have been at an outside bar on a beach, the type of place where a live band’s style of music is more important than their performance. At times, Cayucas felt very true to that setup. They stayed stiff and calm, never feeding off the energy some of their tracks naturally give off. It wasn’t until harmonies and vocal-focused parts during “Cayucos” brought the audience’s attention away from dancing that their performance and music took the spotlight it should have.
That being said, it turns out their live sound, with great surprise, worked best with slow tracks. Hearing the bass triple in volume for “Ayawa ‘kya” brought the tempo down a few notches to guide the audience through palm leaves and deep sand. ”Deep Sea” explored a bit more ground, taking its time to work in a triangle, whistles, and various drums. It may have felt out of place, but “Deep Sea” was the song which proved slow songs may be their strongest material live.
Cayucas debuted new material at the show, impressing audience members with the new sound. The song was more diversified than most of their Bigfoot work and went beyond the typical pop song format. One can only hope their new album heads in this direction, proving the band can go beyond their current relaxed style and easy-to-love songs (like “High School Lover”) towards restructured rhythms that challenge both listeners’ ears and their own.
Title-track “Bigfoot” began with it’s “Mr. Sandman”-esque introduction, a dreamy keyboard part that segues into the teenage ballad, one that could have just narrowly escaped Vampire Weekend’s first album. It wound up sounding more bouncy and deep than on the record. Few parts of their performance differed as greatly between their recorded and live sounds as the end pause in this song when the bass becomes plunging, clunking about in the most endearing of ways. During the last minute of the song, they finally broke free into a psychedelic fading and merging daze, an overflow of volume that pulled each band member forward in a hunch, tugging along with the song’s downbeats. They all began lurching with the last notes. Finally we got to see them move from their spots to dance. Then the crowd erupted into cheers.