Is It Possible to Overdose on Twee? Monnone Alone, The Special Places, & More Test the Boundaries Friday at Rendezvous"/>
Mini San Francisco Popfest with Monnone Alone, the Special Places, Math and Physics Club, and the Smittens
Friday, June 3
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Mini San Francisco Popfest with Monnone Alone, the Special Places, Math and Physics Club, and the Smittens Friday, June 3
Friday, June 3
What makes a show like Friday's unofficial "mini SF Popfest" with Monnone Alone, the Special Places, and Math and Physics Club so much more compelling than this recent effort by Seapony or this one by Eternal Summers? Does the age and experience of the performers, all veterans of the indie-pop scene, mean they write better and more diverse songs, rather than "samey-sounding" ones? Is a crowd of older, hardcore twee fans wearing "I listen to the Smittens" buttons so much more engaged than the Altered Zones-reading acolytes trouping after Seapony et al.? Or is it because some newer artists (and crowds) have no idea what it means to be "Twee as Fuck" and these bands and fans seem to have an inkling? Should that even matter?
Whatever the reason, the warm laughter filling the room after every joke from the stage made for a much more engaging experience than the wan reception garnered at the shows mentioned above. Kicking off the night was Monnone Alone, a very literal band name for the solo project of Mark Monnone, the former bassist for the Lucksmiths. With his swoopy blond bangs, plaid shirt, and black-framed glasses, Monnone wouldn't have looked out of place in Weezer circa '95. But strumming his hollow-bodied guitar and jesting with the crowd in a charming Australian accent, it was clear that the inspiration couldn't be more different. He covered a Bartlebees song, the first Sarah Records cover of the night (Math and Physics Club helmed the second, but I can't for the life of me remember the band! I think it was Brighter? If you know, add in the comments and put my mind to rest), and generally readied the crowd for the indie-pop goodness to come.
Up next were the Special Places, aka Jenny Mears and Corianton Hale from twee titans Tullycraft. Their set of acoustic duets, on ukulele, guitar, and a poorly-played-but-in-a-cute-way accordion, sounded sweet until you listened to the lyrics, which bordered on poisonous on a few songs. The duo wasn't afraid to joke or swear, and a song about a regretted passion struck a chord everyone can identify with in the refrain of "I think it's safer to not have known you, better off never having cared." Apparently they recently recorded an EP, so keep your eyes peeled for a release from these guys.
Math and Physics Club, probably the reigning indie-pop act in Seattle these days, rounded out the lineup with their straightforward set, the highlight of which was "We're So DIY," a song on a level with Tullycraft's "Twee" or the Field Mice's "Sensitive" for the movement's anthem. By the time the Smittens, a Vermont group, started, it was all starting to blur. Perhaps it's possible after all to overdose on twee.
The crowd: Girls in dresses and boys in ties! Swoon.
Collect them all: I never got to see Tullycraft, so I guess I'll have to settle for being in the same room as all the members at once.