Staying Spirited with Weyes Blood, Father John Misty
The Two’s Spiritual Rock Hits the Arlington; Killer Kaya Returns
BEING WEYES IN IGNORANT TIMES: Weyes Blood makes for a kindred-spirited opening act to Father John Misty, the soulful rocker who headlines at the Arlington Theatre (1317 State St.) on Wednesday, October 11. The two both play emotional songs of wisdom and woe, and both come from religious households. Father John Misty grew up in a restrictive evangelical Christian family, imagining a future as a pastor; musicianship, however, turned out to be his strength and calling.
Weyes Blood, a k a Natalie Mering, also found herself entrenched in Christian music (albeit of a more contemporary, “miraculous healing and receiving from the universe” form), and many of her songs alternately rumble and soar with resonant organ tones and drones. When last we spoke, when she played at SOhO in autumn 2016, she related to the “sharp existential pain and striving beyond the goals of the fleshy body” that came with Christianity, though she no longer affiliates with the religion. You can hear the hurt in the organ of her recent cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin,’” which is day-ruiningly good.
Also like Misty — whose dramatic album Pure Comedy features weighty, piano-punctuated meditations such as “Ballad of the Dying Man” — Mering likes to wear the dual masks of tragedy and comedy, dark and light. “I feel like humor and tragedy are all on the same coin, and it’s all a part of the same process as humans as we assimilate reality,” said Mering, who admitted to being a “ham” who grew up making her own talk-radio shows on a tape recorder. Her music videos find her wading through various apocalypses with a dreamily theatrical flair and dazzling suits.
But things have become “a bit dire since” she wrote last year’s song “Generation Why.” “We thought the internet would enlighten everyone, but it’s given everyone access to more ignorance, and given ignorant people an opportunity to organize themselves and congregate,” she said. Referring to flat-earthers and YouTubers suspicious of garden-sprinkler water rainbows, she feels a little dispirited by alternative facts: “There’s no truth in anything but their bogus, patched-together conspiracies.” We’ve all of us fallen into a mass mind-narrowing, she lamented. “It’s heartbreaking.”
And yet there is some salvation in music, still, as themes like these are already winding up in the lyrics of her next album, due out next year on Sub Pop. Expect it to be closer to her experimental roots, as Mering said she’s making “a very gentle shift” toward “more electronic sculpting.” Whether she plays new songs or not, paired with the immense sonic preachings of Father John Misty, her performance will surely be a soul-stirring kind of catharsis under the Arlington’s starry ceiling.
A KAYA KIND OF LIFE: The cat came back. Killer Kaya, everyone’s favorite psychedelic blues-funk-rock band from S.B. with a cat mascot, will return from a recent California tour with a special KCSB-sponsored show at Goleta’s Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave.) on Saturday, October 7. Joined by San Francisco’s The Spiral Electric and The Love Dimension, it’ll be a flower-power kind of night.
With sunshining grooves, the set of acts recalls the days when new spiritual borders opened in the wake of the Summer of Love, when music offered promises of world peace. For Killer Kaya, grooving is a god unto itself. “It only takes one person to start grooving, and then the room will just kind of collectively come together,” said drummer-guitarist Zach Rengert. “Witnessing that happen and seeing all the smiles on people’s faces is really the best compliment you can ask for.”
Speaking of love and community, it’ll be a great chance to raise a glass to show sponsors KCSB. “We are very grateful to have their involvement,” said the Merc’s Mariah Moon. “I am crazy for the station and what they do.”