By all accounts, 2016 has been a busy year for Katy Goodman. Early in the year Goodman and husband/bandmate Todd Wisenbaker released a fourth La Sera album, the Ryan Adams produced, Music for Listening to Music To. The album has been generating a positive buzz by taking La Sera’s hooky indie-pop and adding a splash of alt-country twang and a layer of Smiths flavored jangle. A few months later Goodman collaborated with Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore and the duo released the album Take it, it’s Yours, which features a collection of classic punk and alternative rock covers delivered with a hazy dream-pop re-imagining. With two albums under her belt, Goodman and Wisenbaker still found the time to put together a second La Sera release. Queens is a digital-only EP clocking in at a compact 18 minutes. It’s an intense jolt of music that captures the intensity of La Sera’s live show, and was delivered just in time to accompany the band as they hit the road this fall on a headlining tour. Concert Addicts caught the show at a recent stop at the Pinhook in Durham NC.
The milling Wednesday night Pinhook crowd were drawn to the stage as Secretary started off the evening. The Local Durham-based band founded by Ellison Wolf on guitar and vocals, and Em Maslich on keys, programming, and vocals played an otherworldly set of chilled-out songs that sounded like a mixture of OK Computer era Radiohead, The Church, and a touch of Pink Floyd psychedelia sprinkled on top. The sound was both familiar and new, and definitely caught the crowd’s attention.
Stepping in to the center spot of the evening was Springtime Carnivore. The project of singer Greta Morgan, Springtime Carnivore played a collection of infectious indie pop-folk songs that were both melodic and slightly psychedelic. The set featured songs from Springtime Carnivore’s self-titled first album, as well as Morgan’s latest album, Midnight Room, which was released earlier this month. Midnight Room builds on the folk-pop of Springtime Carnivore and provides a fuller, and sometimes sunnier sound that surrounds personal and emotional lyrics centered on a theme of lost love. Delivered live, the songs were a mixture of longing and sunny optimism. Often engaging the crowd in banter between songs, Greta Morgan came across as likeable and relatable. Toward the end of the set, she invited La Sera’s Katy Goodman up on stage and they played through a few of the songs from their covers collaboration Take it, it’s Yours, including “Ever Fallen In Love” by The Buzzcocks and “Bastards Of Young” by The Replacements.
With the crowd still buzzing over Springtime Carnivore, La Sera took the stage to deliver their headlining set. Playing as a trio with Katy Goodman on bass and vocals, her husband Todd Wisenbaker on guitar and vocals, and Brendan McCusker on drums, La Sera kicked off with “All the Tired Horses,” a Bob Dylan cover. That was followed by “Running Wild,” from Hour of the Dawn and “Shadow of Your Love” from Music for Listening to Music To. La Sera are always engaging and fun live and the show at the Pinhook was no exception. Katy alternates playing with her eyes closed, seemingly lost in the music, or with a huge smile on her face exuding a sense of joy. Todd is the consummate guitar slinger often playing furiously with his head down and eyes closed, or wandering to the front of the stage to connect with the crowd. The banter between the married couple is fun and lighthearted as is the core of their set. Pulled from across the La Sera releases, some of the highlights included, “Take My Heart,” “Queens,” “Please Be My Third Eye,” and a fun and rousing romp through a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” that featured on the Queens EP. The songs mixed elements of lo-fi punk, hard-hitting guitar rock, and dreamy surf pop with 60’s girl group melodies and a touch of alt-country twang.
While the crowd started out a bit tentative and standoffish, it only took one song before everyone pushed closer to the stage and heads were nodding and feet tapping. By the time La Sera closed out the evening, the crowd was fully engaged and cheering for more. La Sera continue to deliver songs with an undeniable charm, delivered with an infectious enthusiasm that lingers well after the show has ended.