Devon Williams, Aunt Dracula & Kissing Tigers, 11/14

By Stephanie Leong

After only a few minutes at the Biko Co-op Garage Performance Space on Sueno Road, one gets the feeling that most weekend nights at the garage turn into wild, decadent dance parties – at least when there’s good music playing. The feeling is akin to a communal sort of tribal ritual, social bonding experience of ultimate music and dance revelry.

On Friday, L.A.-based electro-pop group Kissing Tigers stopped by to perform, along with opening acts Devon Williams and Aunt Dracula.

Upon arriving at 9:15 p.m., it was clear that the performances weren’t going to start for a while, as the main focus of the beginning of the evening revolved around socializing, conversation, mingling – a typical party atmosphere, with the exception that it wasn’t your average, lackluster I.V. party.

There were all sorts of characters present, and conversing with people was actually interesting, compared to most alienating, awkward scenarios that require alcohol to function properly without feeling an overwhelming desire to magically disappear.

This was different, and although there was somewhat of an exclusive vibe to the dynamic, for the most part, the environment was animated and enlivening – and the music made the experience completely worthwhile and engaging.

The first band to perform – and certainly a high point of the evening, Devon Williams, was probably one of the more refreshing contemporary acts in the indie-rock vein to materialize in a while, at least for a local setting in Isla Vista. There was a certain classic pop rock appeal, and as someone in the audience accurately noted, the performance was “rockin’!”

Though not necessarily a conventional dance kind of band, people danced anyway, and the music was inviting enough to inspire such activity. There was a discernable folk-rock, pastoral association and a certain mystique and intrigue to the swirling sound and to Williams’ reverberating vocals. It quickly set the tone for the night, which was very promising.

Aunt Dracula was also doing something unique and different, and “spooky freak pop” only begins to cover it. Their psychedelic-punk noise pop was somewhat redolent of Portishead, and the weirdness, textured guitars, schizophrenic tempos and wild vocals are infectious and make them particularly enjoyable in a live setting, especially since there’s something warm and tropical to their music.

If any band engenders whimsy, dance and impulsive activity, it’s this one, with their undeniable Animal Collective-like tendencies.

The stars of the night, Kissing Tigers (the members of which used to be I.V. regulars themselves), benefited from a brimming audience desire to dance and be overwhelmed, exhilarated and certainly intoxicated by sound. They ended the night brilliantly after an already stimulating, revitalizing evening of sound and spectacle.

Focusbird, the Terrordactyls & Jesse Danger, 11/10
By Darek Cioch

As I entered the Furnace, an Isla Vista abode converted to a concert venue, I didn’t know what to expect.

Least of all did I anticipate hearing a mandolin-laden bluegrass set by the Tramp Menace, one of the local artists co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara DIY and our very own KCSB radio station.

The SBDIY will be responsible for showcasing up and coming local artists in I.V. as well as artists from out of town.

During this free show, I was exposed to a very diverse sampling of genres, from folk to the aforementioned bluegrass, to kazoo pop. This brings me to the focal point of the evening, an acoustic duo known as the Terrordactyls.

Hailing from Seattle (more specifically Vashon Island), Washington, Michael Cadiz and Tyrel Stendahl mix a toy piano, guitars and interesting lyrics to achieve an indie sound somewhat approaching what one would find listening to the “Juno” soundtrack. There’s even a duet on their self-titled release with Kimya Dawson, a prominent musical presence from the movie.

While I found many of the tracks on their recorded album enjoyable, I have to admit that their live performance is even better. And then there’s the kazoo aspect of their show.

I was foolishly consulting a friend on a lyric of a previous song when a sharp pain suddenly emanating from my forehead discontinued the conversation.

I had been struck by a kazoo, one of many thrown out by the Terrordactyls midway through their set, as a way for the audience to participate in their performance.

Joining in with the small, crowded living room full of people, I felt an innocent glee as I tooted my own little horn along to amusing songs such as “I Want to Cry” and a surprise cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s ’90s hit, “Torn.”

Who would have thought that “Torn” would have sounded so good with a bit of kazoo? The Terrordactyls, that’s who.

The closing band, Focusbird, provided a light touch to the end of the show with some folksy songs, and overall, the night of music exceeded my expectations.

Although the Terrordactyls put on the most captivating act, I was impressed with some of our local talent and look forward to checking out upcoming SBDIY shows at the Furnace or some of I.V.’s other small venues.

The Terrordactyls offer free listens of several of their tracks on their MySpace page, and more information can be found of them on their Web site at