Line up stunned fans at Che Cafe

by Ryo Miyauchi

Last Saturday, The Che Café Collective hosted memorable performances by three great bands: Upset, Swearin’ and Waxahatchee. The small, communal atmosphere of Che Cafe fit well with the overall experience.

Los Angeles band Upset started the show with an upbeat vibe, playing short and sweet songs with an energetic kick. Frontwoman Ali Koehler and bassist Katy Goodman talked to the audience between the songs. The stage banter was a fun part of the act as Koehler and Goodman shared some nostalgic facts about being friends in college. The band finished its set with a short cover of a song by punk band 7 Seconds.

Swearin’ was next. A little trouble with the mic volume made frontwoman Allison Crutchfield’s voice difficult to hear, but the band nailed the songs regardless of the problem. The set consisted of a good mix of both its self-titled debut from last year and the new album, “Surfing Strange.” Guitarist and co-songwriter Kyle Gilbride had the spotlight, too, singing his songs such as “Watered Down” from the new album. Both Crutchfield and Gilbride often shared vocal duties, and the partnership during the performance was a highlight of the show.

Waxahatchee played earlier than its scheduled set time and started its set with “American Weekend,” a song from the band’s album of the same name. The live, electric interpretation owas an interesting take on the stark, acoustic song. The band’s set consisted a good amount of selections from “Cerulean Salt.” Fans who had a problem with the clean finish of “Cerulean Salt” should have found the set enjoyable, as the band used the live sound of the electric guitar to make the songs sound heavier than what is heard on the album. “Lips and Limbs” and “Swan Dive” sounded the best from this live treatment. The latter song felt even more emotionally devastating with a slow, aching sound similar to the one in “American Weekend.”

While the first two bands kicked off the show with loud energy, Waxahatchee mellowed the mood of the evening. During Swearin’, some people waved their heads wildly to the music, but no head banging was spotted during Waxahatchee’s set. People crowded around the band and calmly took in every piece of music the band played. While hip-hop legend Jay-Z was also performing in San Diego that evening, Che Cafe with Waxahatchee was the place to be.

Also read: Katie Crutchfield brings intimate music to Che Cafe