Never mind for a second that Diane Coffee mastermind Shaun Fleming has spent the better part of the last year behind the kit for psych-rock auteurs Foxygen. Taken on his own merits, the SoCal native and his new band of music-making buddies are already worthy of headliner status.
Truth be told, the few that were in attendance on Saturday night at Muddy Waters saw three groups that are surely destined for bigger and better sooner, rather than later. Opening act Gothic Tropic made a strong return showing, dishing up an eclectic and ear-wormy mix of garage rock, post punk, and world music-indebted rhythms that cautiously vacillated between chaos and control. Occupying the night’s middle slot, Portland’s Aan gave audience members a set that was about as sonically tight as one gets; guitars and drums started, stopped, and seemed to turn on a dime before sputtering forth in new directions, and frontman Bud Wilson Jr.’s high and nuanced vocals rang out strong and confident.
Still, the night belonged to Diane Coffee, and it didn’t take long for Fleming to drive that point home. At the helm of his newly minted band (seriously, they’ve been playing together for less than a month), Fleming looked like a man possessed, flailing his limbs and whipping his hair as he belted through cuts off Diane’s newly released debut. (The spaghetti western-conjuring “Tale of a Dead Dog” was a hands-down highlight.) Still, the theatrics only heightened what was easily one of the best-sounding sets to come out of Muddy in ages. Whether it was the band, the mix, or a magical combination thereof, Fleming’s jaw-dropping vocal range hit every cue that was asked of it, and then some. That he’s got another gig waiting in the wings may simply mean that Fleming has even more talent up his sleeves — and we can’t wait to see what he busts out next.