As I watched members from both Clean Spill and The Buttertones pace back and forth throughout the room, faces gleamed at the sight of their existence, and I, too, was overcome by the emotion that caused us all to gape in unison. The crowd was filled with seemingly familiar bodies all bent on making the most of their post-adolescence. From the grunge attire to the wavering course of conversation that struck the air, it was evident that this show attracted a particular scene. SOhO is home to an array of sounds, yet it often sees bands like Clean Spill leaving the comfort of Isla Vista and making a home on stage at their venue.
Clean Spill took the stage with lead vocalist Pat Curren capturing the center of the room in a bright red turtleneck, exhibiting the sort of confidence heard in his voice. He was visibly calm and collected, projecting any amount of anxiety he could have on to the crowd through a baffling amount of talent.
As Santa Barbara natives, the amount of feedback they received from the crowd was not only expected, but well-deserved. As someone who has seen the band numerous times, I have yet to hear them perform an identifiably similar setlist. Aside from songs like “Sid” and “Come Around,” their music can be exceptionally challenging to find via most music streaming platforms, so it is common for people to only know those particular songs. While one may come to hear a particular song, they may not only hear it but also experience something better. The band performed a song that I had yet to hear, knocking the crowd off of their feet and into something dressed to sound a little bit like love. After closing my eyes to make the most of this feeling, I opened them to see several people in the room doing the same.
Where Clean Spill ended, The Buttertones began an alternative journey through the soundtrack of an aching romance for their first-ever show in Santa Barbara. Each member took the stage decked in their own twist to their stylish attire, spouting sounds of angst and words of love. Watching them perform, drenched in the colors of the disco ball that orbited the space above them, aided to the art of their melodic, hopelessly romantic appeal, which caused the couples in the room to slow dance as if their hearts were on fire.
They brought a bit of everything to their set with old-school harmonies, saxophone and a combination of everything in between. Although furthest from the crowd, drummer Modesto “Cobi” Cobiån was perhaps the most enjoyable to watch as he drummed like there was a world inside of him. The visible vibrations off of the drumset and his head full of hair, which looked like it was trying to get a piece of the action, were by far too captivating to not take notice.
With each progressing song, The Buttertones professedly became better and better. Frontman Richard Araiza led the crowd down a sun-kissed road through performances of songs like “Dionysus” and “Orpheus Under the Influence.” With the upcoming release of their new album, Gravedigging, it is fair to say that we can be expecting a lot more shows from this band, and if we are lucky, dates that land in Santa Barbara.
Hanni El Khatib closed out a now-full room at SOhO, shattering what was left of a will to resist the need to break free. The three acts combined could not have been a more wistful match-up, and while it could possibly be your first time hearing about them, it will certainly not be the last.