by Brad Robert
This turned out to be an historic concert for Earlimart and they gave what may be one of the best sets I've ever seen from them at The Satellite on Friday night, Sept. 28. And this is from someone who has seen them about 15 times. When I was rediscovering rock and roll they were one of the first 15 or so bands I got into back around 2005, hearing a sound that my '60s ears could relate to. The core of the band has always been Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray (at right) but I've seen them play with a wide array of supporting performers over the years.
They also drew me towards the local music scene, of which I was almost completely ignorant, featuring bands like Great Northern, Irving and Sea Wolf on their bills. On the larger stage, they were the reason I went to see Elbow for the first time at the Avalon in April, 2006 (and became a huge fan) where they were the opening act. Of course 2004's Treble and Tremble was instrumental in developing my passion for the band, but all the while they kept recording great albums, releasing Mentor Tormentor in 2007 and Hymn and Her in 2008.
They have been quiet for a few years (touring and recording in an off-shoot band, Admiral Radley) but came back with their first newly recorded album in four years, System Preferences. So they arranged this show for a record release party, but Aaron Espinoza was in a reflective and thoughtful mood as he announced that the band would be on a hiatus for a little while after this show, promising that this would be a celebratory set that featured many greatest hits.
Even though their new album, System Preferences, will not be physically released until October 16, Aaron said he would be selling them after the show outside the bathrooms. They'll be back before too long and in the meantime I picked up the new album and it is every bit as gorgeous as I'd heard it was.
All the numbers they played from the new CD were beautifully rendered and showed that their knack for writing immediately appealing songs has not been diminished one iota over the years. Throwing in classics like "Heaven Adores You" and "Happy Alone", it all blended seamlessly with new classics like "97 Heart Attack" or "U & Me". I've alway favored sad or dark music and the lush and beautiful melancholy that characterizes all their music just melts me. Pensive, thoughtful, and filled with little life truths, Aaron has always examined what goes on in the deeper corners of the mind's recesses and put it in simple, relatable terms. It's great music for introspection.
What was most moving was seeing a sentimental side to Aaron displayed on stage, which he usually hides under the wraps of his often profanity-laced banter between song. Actually I've always enjoyed that sarcastic side of his humor, and find it funny he can't restrain himself even when there are children in the audience. Well, like I've always said, no one was ever corrupted by a bad word. There were a lot of old fans and friends there and I was happy to spend some time with Kathryn P., Kevin Bronson and Seraphina Lotkhamnga, all of us completely enthralled by the band.
When Aaron talked about how grateful he was to the local music community, how he had no idea where he might have ended up and said this neighborhood saved his life, I could relate in a certain way. I know I've met many individuals who would say the same thing. I can only relate what it did for me. You see, when music re-entered my life about seven years ago, it shook me to my very foundation, turned me completely upside down and rearranged all my priorities. Earlimart was one of the reasons. So here's hoping for the best for them in whatever they do next.
photos by Brad Roberts