Indie rock brings a crowd to Cesar Chavez Park

Local indie bands offered up a hearty dose of energy and a touch of theatrics to the 1,000-plus-person crowd at Cesar Chavez Park Friday night for the latest installation of the Concerts in the Park series.

On the sidewalk leading up to the stage area, vendors were selling gyros, drinks, necklaces and earrings. The CHP had a tented booth, as did radio station Radio 94.7 FM and The Sacramento Press.

The night’s diverse crowd included families, neon-haired teens and seniors, all basking in the glow of live music and sunshine. Friends spread out islands of blankets on the grass, and children ran around with balloons attached to their wrists.

Siblings Juli and Tyler Lydell of The Dreaded Diamond got the night started with their impressive mix of keyboard, drums and emotive, soaring vocals in the vein of indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara.

Tyler played his drums with the finesse of a jazz percussionist, hitting the high hat with exacting strokes of the wrist to produce shimmery and drawn out hisses of vibration. Singer and keyboardist Juli gelled effortlessly with her brother’s rhythm, producing waterfalls of notes and singing heartily from the pit of her stomach with a raw-yet-controlled delivery.

Jerry Perry, the event’s host, called the 15- and 19-year- olds “incredible” as he watched their performance from behind the stage.

Next up, Los Angeles-based Golden Ghosts charmed the crowd with their gracious attitude and twangy Southern-inspired brand of rock ’n’ roll.

Drummer Justin Goings and guitarist Riley Bray were dressed like 1960s rock stars in leather vests and skinny jeans. Bray’s chin-length hair and tassel-adorned vest swayed in unison as he delivered lines like, “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone,” head swiveling with sass.

Brave audience members danced in front of the stage as hoots issued from the crowd during heady jam “Heart of Coal.”

“We couldn’t have picked a better day and couldn’t have asked for a better crowd,” Bray said.

Between bands, Kasey Cooper from Radio 94.7 took the stage to hand out guitar picks to eager hands and encourage audience members to enter a radio-sponsored raffle for a chance to win a $100 iTunes gift card.

As The Kelps started tuning up their instruments, a youthful crowd formed in front of the stage. Three teens stood side by side in homemade black Kelps T-shirts.

As their set got under way, it became clear why The Kelps appeal to a younger crowd: The energy of their live performance is unstoppable. Singer Cory Barringer’s howling vocals brought to mind an enlivened preacher describing hellfire, bassist Cameron Betts hopped joyfully from one foot to the other, and drummer Tony Reye’s flailing arms conjured images of another beloved bit of sea life: the octopus.

Before headliners Agent Ribbons took the stage, Perry spoke to the audience briefly about his experience touring with them a few years prior, describing it as “one of the great adventures of [his] life.”

Drummer Lauren Hess assembled her pearlescent kit center stage while guitarist Natalie Gordon bent down to sign an autograph for a pint-sized fan who, in a vibrant paisley top and jeans, appeared nearly as inspired by fashion as the women of Agent Ribbons themselves.

The theatrical duo donned pink masks with cartoonish eyes printed on them for set-opener “The World Is a Cigarette,” proving their skill as fine-tuned tour veterans capable of playing their songs expertly, even without the luxury of sight.

The girls delivered a studio-perfect version of “I Was Born to Write Sad Songs,” with Gordon’s throaty croon sailing to the back of the park as Hess rapped heartily on her toms.

This Friday, Concerts in the Park will host Rick Estrin & The Nightcats. Join the fun from 5 to 9 p.m. at Chavez Park on 10th and J streets.

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May 24, 2011 | 1:26 PM

I like how thorough your writing is, I feel like I am actually there! It would have been cool to have a few more quotes or more information from people that attended to see it from some more perspectives. Again though, great piece! Wish I had gone!

May 24, 2011 | 4:30 PM

Thank you! And you know, I was just thinking I wish I had included the perspective of fellow audience members- in my next review article, I’ll include a larger variety of quotes. Luckily, there will be plenty more opportunities throughout the summer to check out a concert at Cesar Chavez Park.

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