LISA BOZIKOVIC and KITE HILL at The Music Gallery, Friday, September 7. Rating: NNNN
This double CD release party felt like a musical family reunion, a sense that was augmented by a fussing baby in the audience who piped up between songs, and the fact that some of the musicians - many of whom played during both sets - have been playing together for many years.
Opener Ryan Carley's Kite Hill was in its expansive incarnation, with nine or ten musicians on stage at one point, including a clarinetist, string players and extra percussion. Carley himself kept a low profile, playing quick arpeggiated piano and keys, and only singing occasionally and low in the mix. The band's melancholy but lush, near-instrumental orchestral pop made it hard to distinguish between songs, but the performance was augmented beautifully by Sean Frey's projected drawings, which moved in time with the music, then paused, then moved again, providing a visual narrative for the songs.
Decked out in a white gown, Lisa Bozikovic called the evening a wedding, in which she was getting married to her sophomore album, This Is How We Swim (the whole band wore white on stage for her set). She seemed a little nervous at first, but shook it off during her third, relatively poppy song Midnight Ice.
Bozikovic and the band played the new album in its entirety and in order, a sequence that worked well live, growing dark and intimate and quiet near the end. (It was a new band, with a brand new backup singer in Mary Wood and Carley covering some of the synth parts, as many of the studio musicians were out of town).
Most moving was when Bozikovic played Fever Dream alone at the piano, while Frey and his team dimmed the lights and did a shadow show behind the curtain. The water theme of the album was not overdone visually, with a film of waves crashing on the shore appearing only at the very end.
For the encore, Bozikovic played autumnal and solemn No Denial off of her debut, Lost August, then finished off on a heady, positive note with a great cover of Fleetwood Mac's celebratory Everywhere.