San Cisco at the 9:30 Club

Australian indie rockers San Cisco perform at DC's 9:30 Club. Photo: San Cisco

WASHINGTON, February, 26, 2012 —San Cisco opened for the Vaccines this past Friday night at the 9:30 Club, and their appearance was most likely the first time anyone in the DC has heard this band live. There is a chance that the odd person here or there may have encountered the band in Australia or on the few US dates they played before their show here, but that’s unlikely. This is the band that participated in Fremantle’s first US tour, and that makes them a relative unknown to American audiences.

Their appearance here was something of a novel concept for the audience, at least in a certain context.  On the one a hand, a band like San Cisco could easily be ignored as the audience awaits the headlining act.  If the band doesn’t have anything to catch an audiences’ attention – like well known songs or an eccentric hook – anyone in the crowd could just as well pass them over.  On the other hand, it’s just as likely that people listening to them for the first time might sit up and take notice of a band they’ve never heard of before, assuming they like what they hear.

What helps San Cisco in this regard is that they just might be the perfect opening act for a band like the Vaccines. They’re light and airy, a low-fi band with a number of whirling textures mixed in to their sound just for good measure. Listening to them isn’t all fluff either, as there are definitely of complex things San Cisco is cooking up in the process. Throughout their set, the band churns out one genuinely addictive pop number after another.

This seems to be true with a lot of Australian pop bands, and certainly holds true when you’re listening to San Cisco. If someone weren’t familiar with a given band’s Australian origin, it would be nearly impossible to place a band there just by listening to them. That’s not to say Australia doesn’t have a definitive sound, but they seem – and this especially evident with San Cisco – to blend the best aspects of pop music from both the U.S. and British markets into one sound.

They have often been hailed as something of a garage rock band, and there are aspects of that in both the band’s sonic presentation and the stripped down nature of their songs. But the band also inflicts a good bit of power pop and twee pop on the audience. 

It’s easy to see that if the band played any harder, they’d be able to fill performance venues with the sounds of some of the better arena rock power pop, but they never quite hit the requisite high points necessary to accomplish that. This is mainly due to the lighter pop elements they incorporate into their sound. The guitar work gets this going by keeping the band’s approach as airy and simple as possible.

San Cisco’s sound never achieves the driving presence that some pop bands can accelerate into, but that fits front man Jordi Davieson’s high pitched vocals perfectly. It’s a relaxed approach that never overpowers the audience. The band’s sound gets even more airy, emphasizing twee pop sound in the best way whenever drummer Scarlett Stevens takes over which, in turn, emphasizes the brightness of their pop sound even more.

San Cisco is the kind of pop band that may not catch people’s attention at first. But they have a way about them that allows them to slowly fit into the mood of a place where people just want to have easygoing fun at a show. They’re the perfect band to encounter at the end of the week filled with the usual overload of cynicism. And there needs to be more of that in pop music today. So hopefully, this won’t be San Cisco’s last visit to the States.


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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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