WATER SIGNS: MTV may have jumped the shark over a decade ago, but that certainly hasn’t done much to hurt the music-video arts. Chalk it up to YouTube, or Vimeo, or the widely held belief that every musician just really wants to be an actor; whatever the case, the moving-picture-set-to-music model ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, with the Internet as their playground, more and more bands are getting creative in the video-making department, spawning some of the coolest, weirdest, and downright dazzling camera work on the Web.
Just look at Y La Bamba. The Portland folkies with the striking bilingual frontwoman recently completed a video for their song “Ponce Pilato,” and trust me when I say it’s worth a Google. Never mind the fact that “Ponce” is one of the hands-down highlights of the band’s 2012 full-length, Court the Storm — the video is one of the prettiest pieces of moviemaking I’ve seen on the ’net in ages. Shot on 16mm film among the redwoods and in Washington State’s picturesque Puget Sound, it’s a summery nostalgia-inducing head rush filled with about as much natural beauty as you can cram into four minutes of footage. (The bittersweet lyrics, open-road-conjuring acoustic guitars, and haunting vocals do their fair of the legwork, too.)
But what makes “Ponce” the gem that it is ultimately lies in the collaboration. The short film ends with a group of synchronized swimmers (Portland’s The Olivia Darlings) donning gold suits and diving into the sparkling waters of the Puget. Better still, the video itself is doubling as a campaign plug of sorts for these bathing beauties. In an effort to save the dying art of water ballet, the Darlings are using the vid (and a Kickstarter campaign) to try and get 100 swimming organizations around the U.S. to begin offering synchronized swimming programs. The money raised will allow the Darlings to print and distribute educational materials to pools around the country. And if that doesn’t scream summer, well, I don’t know what does.
As for Y La Bamba, the band returns to Santa Barbara on Thursday, June 27, at 8 p.m. for a headlining show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) alongside The Easy Leaves and The Kinds. For more on the band, or to watch the video, visit ylabamba.com. For tickets and info, call (805) 962-7776 or visit newnoisesb.org.
ROCK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN: Also this week, San Fran experimentalist Cairo head south for a stop at Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.). Drawing inspiration from the likes of Fugazi, Spinal Tap, Bach, and Stravinsky, the trio’s wordless guitar, bass, and drum musings are rooted in rock, tinged with funk, and heavy on the free-form improvisation. Think free jazz thrown through the fuzz-rock filter and cranked to 11. Cairo plays Thursday, June 20, at 8 p.m. with The Wools Surf Club, Send Machine, and Waters Risin’. Call (805) 966-9328 or visit coolsummerrecords.com/cool-summer-presents for tickets and info.
SOLSTICE SERENADES: And if you’re looking for some post-Solstice action of the hard-rock variety, I suggest stopping in at Whiskey Richard’s (435 State St.) on Saturday, June 21. That’s where you can catch OWL, the new project from The Cult bassist Chris Wyse. Not surprisingly, OWL’s sound is a heavy-handed helping of electric guitars, crashing cymbals, and clean, guttural vocals — so, The Cult minus the whole post-punk-goth thing. The show starts at 9 p.m. and is 21+. For info, call (805) 963-1786.
BACK IN ACTION: Following last year’s 30th anniversary reunion show, Santa Barbara’s beloved R&B, soul, and zydeco band Fat Tuesday is returning to The Creekside (4444 Hollister Ave.) on Monday, June 24 at 8 p.m. The concert will double as a benefit to honor the band’s former sound guy, Guy Tokunaga, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. Proceeds from the event will go towards cancer research in Tokunaga’s name. For info, call (805) 964-5118.