Last Wednesday, the Constellation Room in Santa Ana neared capacity, buzzing in anticipation for the perfect summer show. Santa Monica based indie pop outfit, Cayucas, appeased, playing their new set of sunny, nostalgic tunes from the recently released Dancing at the Blue Lagoon.
Seattle based Hibou (pronounced “ee-boo”), Peter Michel’s (previously of Craft Spells) solo project, opened the show with a perfect blend of Captured Tracks-like shoegaze and west coast inspired jangle pop. Any words from Michel were few and awkward, such as describing the song “In The Sun” as a song simply “about being in the sun,” with a confident nod. However, it was the scarce interactions that made the band that much more captivating. Despite the few already dedicated fans in the crowd requesting their favorite tracks, it seemed like many were being introduced to the sounds of Hibou, and loving it! The crowd bopped and swayed, under sunset hues of pink and yellow. The only chatter in between songs too sunny to be from a band whose home is infamous for its rainfall, was of praise. They played several songs, safe to assume, from the self-titled album out September 18 on Barsuk Records, in addition to the entire Dunes EP. By the end of their set, the excitement to see Cayucas was high, but it was also a set that a large proportion of the audience hated to see end.
Cayucas walked onto a tropically lit stage of blue and greens, to the sound of a single chord slammed out on a grand piano, a big movie-like opening, like opening track “Big Winter Jacket.” The band immediately jumped into their dance-worthy single “Moony Eyed Walrus.” The brothers’ previously expressed intentions to create fun evenings were clear as they played “Hella,” down to the recording of crashing waves, joking that the audience should not be confused by the word as its a NorCal thing. After a few more songs from Dancing, the quintet took you back to a poolside long ago playing favorites from their debut release, Bigfoot, under cool blue and sunny yellow lighting. The set slowed down a little as the band played the ballad “Blue Lagoon (Theme Song),” but picked back up as guitarist and bassist, Ben, requested everyone dance to “Dancing at the Blue Lagoon.” Even with the small lull, energy was high from beginning to end as crowd members of all ages (teens to 50s) twisted, cheered, and to the great surprise of the band, hopped on stage to shimmy and shake before trying to surf off into the sea of people. Cayucas brought their set to a close with songs from the second half of Dancing, including the most experimental one on the album, “Backstroke,” that Zach jokingly called their “hip-hop track.” Being only night two of their national tour, the band seemed extremely comfortable playing the new tracks, encouraged by the audience’s positive reception. However, it was the older tracks that stole the show. Having had more time to spend with the songs of Bigfoot, allowed the band to revitalize them into something quite dreamy. Fan favorites like “East Coast Girl,” “High School Lover,” and “Cayucos” remained relatively the same, but “Deep Sea” and “Will ‘The Thrill’” took on a whole new life. These songs were given denser instrumentation and somewhat melancholic nuances, allowing them to be breezier and leaving the audience dazed and swaying. By the end of the set, it was clear that the goal the brothers have expressed in previous interviews: to make an album that was fun in a live-setting, was a success! The crowd responded through movement and shouts of approval much more than at previous Cayucas shows I have attended.
Though Hibou utilizes much more reverb and has more noticeable pop elements than Cayucas, the pairing was as sweet as Coca-Cola and ice cream, dripping with nostalgia, in the summertime. If you want to experience such sweetness for yourself, Cayucas is set to play their homecoming show August 14 at the El Rey Theatre in LA, with Hibou.
To hear more about Cayucas and Dancing at the Blue Lagoon, tune into go by the sun, Monday, July 27 between 3 and 5pm for an interview with Zach Yudin.