In a lineup that spanned well into the early morning hours, Club Mercy’s Friday night presentation at SOhO bridged the musical gap between north and south. The evening’s headliners, Helio Sequence, and their current traveling companions, Talkdemonic (both from Portland), held court with local favorites Franklin for Short and The Coral Sea. With the former igniting the evening’s proceedings, the latter gladly took the musical flame and ensured it burned brightly. With a new album, Firelight, all but completed, the Sea’s set offered a delightful glimpse of what’s to come. From the Bowie-esque “Heartbeats” to the brazenly poignant “Liar,” the local stalwarts intrigued as much as they delighted. Following their set, northerners Talkdemonic took the stage, entrancing the assembled with their fiery mix of viola, drums, and sequencing. It was a divine blend of tone and tempo-something not unfamiliar to the evening’s headliners.
With each alternated beat, Helio Sequence drummer Benjamin Weikel-in an act to seemingly enlist all the celestial might he could summons-pointed his drumstick to the heavens early on in the set. As his arm dropped in purposeful freefall, Weikel’s stick was sent crashing into his kit to deal a defiant blow. Meanwhile, frontman Brandon Summers ensured that his partner’s animation would not be an isolated affair, dancing across the train of guitar pedals at his feet. The Helio Sequence might have seen only two bodies present on stage, but the duo’s dynamic more than made up for the lack of additional instrumentation.
The Portland pair underscored their frantic rhythm and seductive guitar lines with a bevy of swirling sequenced electronics-all of which combined to craft a sound both polished and moving. An endless stream of riffs and harmonies surged from the stage and drenched the audience in a sublime offering of unapologetic pop. With 10 years and four albums now behind them, it is hard to believe that this performance was Weikel and Summers’s first visit to Santa Barbara. But on the strength of Keep Your Eyes Ahead, the songs they offered, and their execution tonight, there is no doubt that we will be seeing plenty more of them.