Nushu, from left, features singer-guitarists Lisa Mychols, Hillary Burton and drummer Tom Richards.
Popgarden Radio Presents the Rock on the Road Tour
Who: Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings, Popdudes, The Tickets, Nushu
Where: Plaza Arts Stage, The Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa
When: Sunday, July 24, 2011
Although I missed the first two acts on the power-pop bill titled "Popgarden Radio Presents the Rock on the Road Tour" hosted by Florida-based Adam Waltemire on Sunday afternoon, July 24, I did see the last four artists who played on the Plaza Arts Stage as part of the event. And the good news is all four acts delivered the sonic goods in spade.
Nushu features singer-songwriter-guitarists Lisa Mychols and Hillary Burton (pictured here). On Sunday, they were joined by bassist Emma Jenson and drummer Tom Richards and together delivered a generous dose of outstanding songs that recalled the Bangles and Go-Go's, as well as modern-day Danish indie rock duo The Raveonettes.
Nushu performed a bunch of great songs, including original uptempo originals like "Beautiful Magical," "Here's To Feeling Free" and "Synthia," as well as artful remakes (a sweet cover of Phil Seymour's "Precious to Me"). Mychols and Burton are each strong singers on their own, but the kicker is how well their voices blended together throughout the rewarding set. If you don't have Nushu's debut Nevermind Lullabye or the duo's 2010 sophomore effort Hula, get them via the group's official Web site at www.nushumusic.com.
The Tickets play infrequently, so any excuse to hear singer-songwriter Bryan Shaddix (pictured here) perform his original material is a good one. And while his songs stand high on their own, fans of Crowded House, Squeeze and Nick Lowe will find something to love in the songs the quartet played under a searing summer sun on Sunday. He played older favorites such as "Heartland," "I Don't Belong" and "Way Down Here," as well as some new songs. One track, which is likely titled "It's Really Getting Strange,"
had a strong and heavy Neil Young vibe and really stood out to me.
One of the joys of attending a power-pop concert is the realization is that (some) musicians still know how to have fun. Take Southern California's Popdudes, a rotating band of players that feature drummer John Borack (pictured below) and available players who want to tear up on reworked versions of mostly-obscure covers. I mean, how many bands dare to cover Nick Gilder's 1978 hit "Hot Child in the City"?
On Sunday, singer-bassist Robbie Rist (who as a child actor played Cousin Oliver in the final six episodes of The Brady Bunch) led the outfit on a satisfying journey of rediscovery. From The Who's early gem "The Kids Are Alright" to the mostly-forgotten 1972 hit "It Never Rains in Southern California" and even the Nick Lowe classic "Cruel to Be Kind," the Popdudes blasted out of the gate and exhibited a Devil-may-care attitude that worked.
Last but definitely not least came a full set courtesy of Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings, who absolutely floored the fairgrounds with a dozen songs that had the crowd cheering from start to finish. Few outfits fuse rock, rockabilly, Beatles pop, alt-country and Americana styles as well together as Clevenger (pictured on the right) and company, and that was clear on the uptempo likes of audience favorites like "Supermarket Checkout Queen" and "Love You Like a King," as well as a slew of great new songs (a song I believe is titled "Sober and Alone" truly rocked, as did a Smithereens-styled song called "The Blue Side of Town").
The troupe ended the fest with a rollicking cover of The Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers," a song suited to Clevenger's authentic genre-defying approach.