Noise Pop ’09: Matt Costa Headlines Slim’s

26 02 2009

Ian Ferguson San Francisco, CA
Matt Costa and his band play a few instruments well, and a number of instruments sort of well. Well enough, at least, to make music. Slim’s on Wednesday staged this generous music, where a trumpet’s slippery blare or a vocal’s wavering run sound less mistakes than creative additions, allusions to loose-lipped dixieland or the fine slides through microtonalities of High Catskill folk.


photo by Adam Planas

With itinerant additions of trumpet, mandolin, harmonica, and lap steel guitar along with standard issue guitar, bass, drums, and keys, the instrumentation imparts an alienness which incorporates these performance ‘accidents’ into the larger arrangement. That Costa’s music draws its inspiration from a variety of musical styles further locates the listener simultaneously in allusion and alienation as genres collides.

Costa began his set with the finger-picked guitar and minor harmonies of a stripped-down country sound, then morphed through zydeco and Africa-via-Paul-Simon influences before ending the set with the downbeat rock density of his new album, Unfamiliar Faces. For the encore, he appeared onstage with an acoustic guitar to  accompany a new, appalachia affected song. The full band returned for the southern rock final number.

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