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Tuesday, January 11

BLVD - The Independent - SF,CA -1/8/11 - By: Greg Heffelfinger

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BLVD
The Independent
SF,CA
1-8-11

Words: Greg Heffelfinger
Photo: Kelsey Winterkorn

The crowd at the Independent shivered and shook as they made their way into the darkened club to see San Francisco natives,BLVD. Whether it was the chill in the air or the anticipation of seeing one of the hottest livetronica acts in the city, people kept filling the small hall. As Pink Mammoth spun an adequate opening set, the house put up those two words that every band loves to see on the ticket office, SOLD OUT. As the opening set finished up around 11, the crowd put out their cigarettes and quickly filled the hall for the main set.

Not surprisingly, most of the crowd had seen the band before and excitedly exchanged stories about the sets they caught at High Sierra or Coachella. Having never seen the band before, one can’t help but think they hit the stage ready to play. After a quick turnaround, the house lights dropped and the high-tech stage show lit up and the guys quickly locked into the groove. Featuring two flatscreen monitors and a battery of LED lights, the production team proves why it doesn’t matter if they are in the club or on stage. The locked-in drumming of Dylan McIntosh provided the foundation of everything that BLVD excelled at. It never seemed that he was trying to show off or be flashy but he firmly left his stamp on every song and every jam. As he rode the beat, he also managed to fold in samples of everything from ethereal tones and sounds to samples of popular lyrics. As the words, “San Francisco” looped and reverberated through the packed dance floor, bassist Tripp Bains dropped waves of bass notes into the mix. Bains and McIntosh connected out of the gate and throughout the show they never lost the beat. Bains’ pulsing bass provided the melodic drive that makes BLVD a welcome additon to the late night stage at Camp Bisco. Behind the samples and electronic weirdness, it might be easy to forget that these guys are great musicians. Some bands hide behind samples, BLVD showed that used correctly, samples become another instrument with unlimited potential. Unlike the telepathy that McIntosh and Bains shared, Curtis Sloane provided the color. Sloane drifted in and around the beat like a phantom. Playing riffs and chords that almost sounded jazz-like, he tied the sound together with a flourish that makes this group of guys one of the best up-and-coming livetronica acts I’ve heard recently. Never overplaying, Sloane tastefully folded in layers of echo and reverb with a perfect sound that poured through the room like psychedelic magma.

BLVD produced a sound that a group of dj’s would have to work very hard to produce. The fact that these guys did it on the fly and never missed a step is impressive enough by itself. When you also think that they did it with a humor and lightness that expresses what the soul of music is about, it’s amazing. The joy that these guys play with is obvious. While they are no doubt, working very hard they make it seem easy and that smoothness reflects itself in the music. The band walks a tightrope between drowning in samples and overplaying the instrumental side and possibly sounding thin and light. They make the live part of livetronica the most exciting, vibrant part If it was any indication, the raging crowd inside and the shivering, dissapointed fans outside, love the high wire that BLVD walks. Coming home, sometimes you get a pass, these fans asked for a great night and that is exactly what they got.