Last Wednesday night, Mirah and her band returned to Santa Barbara to perform before a passionately interested, nearly hypnotized, packed house at SOhO. The group took to the stage following Tender Forever (a.k.a. Melanie Valera), a charming French soloist who admirably threw herself into her songs after her MacBook, which supplied the music for a portion of her performance, called it quits mid-way through the set. Valera seemed understandably upset about the breakdown of her laptop, but shined when she picked up a guitar and lead the audience through Bill Withers‘ “Lean On Me,” and Cher‘s, “Believe.”
Not long after, the crowd seated themselves on the floor of the venue, focusing on a barefoot Mirah and her band as they filed onto the stage and picked up their instruments. As Mirah began to sing somberly, her audience - many with closed eyes - began shush-ing the less attentive patrons in the room. And it was with this captive seriousness that they enjoyed the rest of the set. Mirah lead her band, made up of an electric guitarist, drummer, violinist, and keyboardist/clarinet player, through a wide range of music, all pleasantly reminiscent of a toned down, female-fronted grunge rock group.
Mirah, who formerly toured with Modest Mouse as Mirah and the Microphones (and even sung backup on the band’s “Grey Ice Water”) is no stranger to the grunge rock sounds of the Pacific Northwest, herself coming from Portland. On Wednesday night, Mirah’s tunes definitely picked up the pace at a number of different times throughout the set. “The Dogs of BA,” in particular, came together well with its 1920s French bistro type of sound. Aside from this and the occasional use of bongos, however, Mirah’s tone remained generally serious and creatively haunting, at times recalling The Black Heart Procession, which could be heard most noticeably during her performance of “Education.”