Craft+Spells+jack+and+justin.jpg
Craft Spells, Witch Gardens

The Vera Project

Sunday, April 3rd

One noteworthy aspect of going to the Vera : The show ends before many others

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Craft Spells Parties Like It's 1983, Last Night at Vera

Craft+Spells+jack+and+justin.jpg
Craft Spells, Witch Gardens

The Vera Project

Sunday, April 3rd

One noteworthy aspect of going to the Vera: The show ends before many others would even have started. Gotta get those kids home before curfew, y'all. But in a way it's refreshing to know you can see three bands and still get a full night's sleep before work in the morning. With that out of the way, let's talk about last night's Craft Spells album-release party, where all the kids were on a school night. (All the kids who weren't at the My Chemical Romance show, that is.)

First up, starting at 8 p.m. (!), was the delightful party pop of Witch Gardens, who blend the Shaggs, riot grrrl, and that certain wide-eyed (but out of tune) Beat Happening punk aesthetic, producing a chaotic, fun set of songs about too-cool-for-school kickball girls, lifeguards, and standard poodles. As one of three female vocalists strummed an autoharp, guitarist Casey Catherwood plucked surf-esque riffs from a Fender Mustang. Catherwood was also responsible for introducing the songs in a staccato half-yell reminiscent of a circus barker. Also worth mentioning: Their drummer played standing up, vigorously banging snare, floor tom, and cymbal with no kick drum or high hat in sight. Witch Gardens' enthusiasm replaces technical prowess (intentionally, I'm sure), but all in all they were a pleasant surprise.

The lovely and talented Erin Thompson has been assiduously covering the Craft Spells beat, chronicling frontman Justin Vallesteros' recent move to Seattle from Stockton, Calif., and the band's signing to Brooklyn's Captured Tracks label, home of the majority of the nation's jangly pop goodness. Last night's show was in honor of the release of their debut, Idle Labor, which Vallesteros noted was "a long time coming." He is a charming frontman, baby-faced in sharp contradiction to his baritone vocals, out of breath and slightly awkward at between-song banter. (Confidential to whoever was complaining on Twitter about them not being "new romantic:" I can hear it! Check the vocals. No sax, though.) Their floral album art reminds of nothing so much as New Order's classic Power, Corruption, and Lies, and the music owes a debt to that great band as well, with songs like "You Should Close the Door" getting everyone dancing. Without synths or an overdose of reverb, the songs sounded brighter and less washed-out than on the (admittedly infectious) record. The jangly hollow-body leads played by guitarist Javier Suarez sound like those of a couple other bands operating at the moment, but with summer on the horizon and hopefully a few rays of sunshine coming our way, it's a trend I can get behind. Catch them May 7 at Chop Suey with labelmates Beach Fossils for a few sunny moments of your own.

Random notebook dump: Another fun thing about going to the Vera: The crowd, mostly under 21 due to the venue's all-ages nature, dresses UP! None of this jeans-and-flannel business for them.

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