After the Christmas tree has been dragged out to the curb for another year, it’s easy to succumb to winter depression. While some people will burrow into their blanket fort until April, the truly adventurous souls will descend to the Haven Underground Thursday (Jan. 10) for a night of midwinter revels that’s sure to keep spirits soaring.
Local band Lasher Keen will start the night with a set of raw Pagan blues as it exorcizes and exonerates demons from the past and future. The group’s densely woven songs feature grinding cello, gently plucked harps, manic drumming and tightly harmonized vocals as it retells the myths of old. Multi-instrumentalists Dylan Sheets and Bluebird Gaia span the stylistic horizon from the gentle, if abstract, folk of the Incredible String Band to the ritualized heaviness of bands like Black Sabbath and Comus. Bedecked in elaborate robes and adorned with seasonal warpaint, they pierce the veil that separates ritual from rock and roll. Delivering an intensely cathartic collection of songs from their new album Berserker, Lasher Keen delve deep into the mythical underworld and emerge with musical pearls of supernatural provenance.
While Lasher Keen exists in a netherworld of rhythm and ritual, Panther And Bear Fight evokes an entirely different time and place. By mixing Victorian music hall bonhomie with Southern gothic creepiness, the group re-imagines the Sierra Foothills as a place of deeply weird natural magic. This mysterious sextet uses harmonicas, lap steel, drums and a dash of creepiness to create a rickety, rollicking soundscape that wouldn’t be out of place as a soundtrack to an old, silent vampire film. Its set list includes bone-shaking originals and old, obscure vaudeville numbers alongside classics by haunted poets like Johnny Cash, Leadbelly and the Gun Club. Led by local screamtress Lizzy Lee Savage, these archaic archeologists have a degree in musical cryptozoology.
Lest the night get too deep and dark, Foxtails Brigade will provide the necessary light to usher in the morning. This merry band of musical pranksters is led by Laura Weinbach, a child of Hollywood royalty who spent her youth learning songs by Blossom Dearie, Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf when she wasn’t hanging out with neighbors like Ice T and Slash. After a stint in Santa Cruz, Weinbach set out for San Francisco armed with just a guitar and a dream of meeting like-minded musicians. Backed by a revolving cast of cellists, ukulele enthusiasts and string players, Weinbach has played shows supporting renowned artists like Jane Birkin, Faun Fables and Laura Veirs. On stage, Weinbach is whimsical without being cloying. She draws from great French ye-ye girls like Francoise Hardy and Brigitte Bardot along with the wildly unpredictable grrrl-goth of Rasputina and Agent Ribbons. Foxtails Brigade mines a rich mythological past yet reinvents these stories as musical fairy tales instead of grim morality plays.
While Halloween may be a long way off, the Haven will be packed with satyrs, gravediggers, marionettes, Victorians and freaks, all ready to celebrate the long winter nights and the inevitable return of spring.