All forms of serendipity were hung, drawn and brutally quartered the minute dating sites became the norm in terms of forming meaningful relationships and news got old the second it was uploaded to any which niche of the www., right? Wrong. For seeing Aussie pop minstrels San Cisco live on a virgin occasion over in San Francisco of all places, the very first time I’d washed up in the city in living memory, at least superficially appears to be pretty fortuitous. Unfeasibly so, even.
And it would appear I’m not the only one rejoicing in their coincidental arrival in California. For from the oom-pah ooh la la’s of opener Rocket Ship right through to an antithetically involving No Friends, the Fremantle four-piece inspire much profuse whooping right through. It’s an hysteria rarely witnessed, not least in the stereotypically apathetic Bay Area, and somehow mirrors monochromic scenes seen of The Beatles’ inaugural touchdown stateside in the winter of ’64. It was then Pan Am Flight 101 that the Scouse ensemble took from Heathrow, and it was only last weekend – on a presumably somewhat more prestigious aeroplane – that Paul McCartney swung by San Francisco to headline the Golden Gate Park’s esteemed Outside Lands shindig. Although if only fleeting glimpses of their abiding influence gently impress themselves upon the evening (indeed the aforesaid Rocket Ship is a nigh on solitary instance), then it’s an act from Sunday’s billing to which they may be more readily compared.
For not infrequently do San Cisco sonically call to mind a prototypal Vampire Weekend perhaps a couple years too late: the honky-tonk plodder of Lyall recalls a vexatiously puerile take on Walcott at its every chorus while Toast, with its dizzying guitar refrains, gratuitous swears of slight insurgence (“Fuck the police”, et cetera), and irrepressible insouciance, completes the connection. There’s a homely familiarity to it for sure, although all too often you can find yourself scrabbling for all applicable inspirations as opposed to experiencing, and in turn enjoying the music for what it is. And so even though San Cisco can sometimes seem excessively derivative, it’s to their indubitable testament that the overriding impression forged is a largely impressive one.
That lead vocalist Jordi Davieson resembles another bloody Jonas Brother separated from his Photoshop-fine-tuned brethren at birth doubtless heightens the allure to the vociferous teens here congregated, but they’ve several songs that genuinely sound as stonking as the crowd itself: the giddy directness of a supremely blasé Metaphors, or the surfy bluster of Wild Things – a vivifying breath of the freshest Pacific air – attest to this quite emphatically. The vigour with which the numerous glow sticks visible overhead are flailed increases accordingly and although there’s an element of the prepubescents in attendance perhaps erring a little too perkily on the feverish side of the fence (Davieson’s every mention of “San Fran” is met with the rabid frenzy to greet Lady Gaga’s each and every newly spawned avant-pop monstrosity), their innocent hope is regularly vindicated.
The vivid melancholia of Nepal forms a peak – think Two Door Cinema Club surfing on Air’s Talkie Walkie rocket – whilst an expansive Beach already sounds primed for stadia worldwide. Though it’s this latter that most transparently elucidates the band’s indwelling downfall in that for all his porcelain looks and effete posturing, Davieson oughtn’t be their primary focus for in all too infrequently vocal drummer Scarlett Stevens, they’ve an unnecessarily dimmed star in their midst. Like the nebulous white that seems to smother every last San Francisco morning, her involvement is made opaque not only by the kit behind which she’s sat, but so too by her sidelined position within the troop. And she is the sea to Beach – the raging power that propels its chorus; an unknowable force of unrecognised potency; its dark part brimming with moody blues – and her involvement is one I’d rather revel in.
Though she and Davieson share only in a mild incompatibility which is somewhat astonishing, given how combustible her vocal here sounds. It needs a spark, and less Jordi’s desiccated sighs as the duo are rarely impressive in tandem. Awkward, a song “about stalking”, makes these seemingly irreconcilable differences manifest – its perhaps most awkward element its exhibition of these discrepancies in respective vocal capacities. Musically, it somehow sounds like a topsy-turvy take on The Kooks circa 2006, with The Virgins’ chinky guitars infested with the pooled blood, sweat and tears to have been poured into the considerably more stimulating THR!!!ER, and is best charted somewhere or other unremarkable along an indier-than-thou plateau. This also features Stella – a sort of bulbous B-52s redux sans prerequisite pizazz – along with the inherently breathless iPhone chorus of a questionable Get Lucky cover, and Fred Astaire. Appositely, there’s plenty a-toe-tappin’ going on, as the ingenuity of the boy least likely to combines with the adolescent abandon of forgotten compatriots Operator Please. Maybe it’s merely due to the Rickenbacker penchant, but it’s a pertinent comparison in a way for it’s only too easy to forget that San Cisco are only now beginning to break out of their teens.
Serendipitously perhaps, Girls Do Cry provokes vibrant reminiscences of a band to have dictated my very own formative years in Is This It-era The Strokes. Soma, even. Golden Revolver, meanwhile, proves redolent of Shout Out Louds’ Howl Howl Gaff Gaff – a recording I coincidentally acquired the last time I paid Amoeba Music a gluing visit and came unstuck aglow with radiant amazement. It’s simultaneously a little bristly à la Local Natives, and a tad Aha Shake Heartbreak for the sake of faux-American idiosyncrasy and in keeping with the theme of fate, it leaves us hoping only that Davieson is led to a potential suitor at the right end of the fangirl age range…