Saved by the Daylights (Feb 2001)
Today we look back ten years to Aaron Kayce’s February 2001 Jambands.com feature on the Living Daylights
Living in San Diego is often a mixed bag. At times it can be a slice of paradise, sitting on a jagged cliff face wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, watching the crystal blue water break onto a pristine coastline. But more often than not this 75-degree dreamland is laced with musical atrocities. It is by no means a secret that San Diego is far from a leader in the music scene, compare it to the local music coming out of Seattle, Frisco, Atlanta, Boston, or NYC and this becomes obvious. It seems the beach simply does not cater to a progressive, creative, energized live music crowd. The differences between a place like San Diego and San Francisco are amazing. When I talk to my friends up in the Bay they are constantly having to choose what they want to see, and being forced to miss something every weekend because of the amount of great music going through there. When was the last time the Sex Mob and Zony Mash were in San Diego at the same time, or even separately for that matter? Or when have I ever had to choose between Steve Kimock and Charlie Hunter. In fact most of the people around here, even the “heads” don’t even know of these bands. Of course we have amazing musicians, as any city does, and of course there are nights that are rocking, but for the most part we are in a superficial atmosphere. A city dominated by beach culture embracing boob jobs and Limp Bizkit. One needs only to consider this New Years Eve possibilities. In Frisco there is so much to choose from whether it be the Other Ones, Phil and Friends or Galactic that everyone inevitably must miss something. Whereas down here in San Diego no one of note, not one band I am excited about is playing. Or you could look at Widespread Panics last visit to San Diego over a year ago in which only a handful of people came out to experience what I would consider one of the best live acts out there.
The irony inside the San Diego music world was highlighted yet again on the weekend of December 8th, 9th, and 10th. Unfortunately for the likes of my kind San Diego draws more attention from gangster rap than from creative, talented, improvisational musicians. But on this weekend we had a combination of both, two musical outfits sitting on completely opposite sides of the track. Somehow I had caught wind that the infamous Snoop Doggy Dog would be performing an unscheduled show at the small, (maybe five hundred person) Cane’s. At first I was not that interested, I don’t like his ‘music’, his message, or that entire scene. But I was convinced that this ‘superstar’ would put on a ‘sick’ show, in the tiny venue with people bumpin’ to the beats. Being interested in all types of musical experiences I grabbed one of the hard to get tickets going for thirty bucks. (Ouch!)
I wasn’t expecting too much, but was actually fairly excited on Saturday night when we rolled up to the venue, only to find literally dozens of cop cars littering the parking lots, and more foot soldiers than I could count. And I thought Phish shows were bad. Any way my excitement was dropping rapidly as we witnessed the idiots roaming around, acting tough, giving stares, and professing their extreme coolness. But let me assure you, things only got worse. To speed things up, we sat around in a hot stuffy room listening to a DJ spin fair at best music you would hear on one of those horrible music stations like Z- 94.5. We tormented the noise for over three hours while we awaited the Dog father’s arrival. At one point I even heard the so-called DJ repeat a song, are you kidding me? When Snoop finally did show up at 12:45 he and a couple of other vocal imposters got on stage and screamed a few songs over a different DJ. He actually spent more time smoking blunts and yelling, “What’s my mother fucking name” than actually singing or rapping. And when Snoop was actually trying to perform he was way off key and sounded like shit. It was HORRIBLE! I should have listened to my friends who usually come to all the shows with me as they warned me that it would be just as it was, a JOKE. I was hopping for something like the amazing hip-hop shows I have seen by the Roots and Jurassic Five, but I was ever so wrong. I left feeling like I had been swindled. Thirty bucks to watch a criminal get high.
I awoke on Sunday a bit perturbed by the previous nights antics, but was looking forward to a musical experience which I hopped would freshen up my mood. The Seattle based trio Living Daylights were playing at my local stomping ground, Winston’s in Ocean Beach. I was introduced to the Living Daylights at the High Sierra music festival where they collaborated with the extremely talented Slip in a late night freak out entitled the Slipping Daylights. After that show I knew to keep my eyes on both of these bands, and as I have seen the Slip only once since then I was excited to see the other half of that late night extravaganza, the Living Daylights.
I strolled down to the warm dark lit bar I have called home for stretches at a time, paid my five dollars and settled into one of my favorite local bands, Psydecar. The opening set was great, energized, funky, jazzy, reggae jams, with special guest Harold Todd on sax blowing beautifully. I sipped on a two-dollar Newcastle as I watched the Living Daylights set up their gear for a truly unique evening. The trio which is composed of Dale Fanning on drums, Arne Livingston on Bass and Jessica Lurie on saxophone wasted no time getting into it. They came out on fire, jumping right into a space out super jam in which I could not take my eyes of Arne’s amazing bass playing. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was watching one of the best bass players I had ever seen. Arne is capable of using the bass in so many different ways, from slamming on its neck to picking subtle lead notes. At times one can hear tinges of Charlie Hunter, and you may even feel as if there is a lead guitar somewhere hidden in his bass. In the first five minutes I watched Arne very nonchalantly use his foot gadgets to loop various thick vibrations to create an extremely full sound as he would thump over it, dropping huge bass rhythms.
As Arne is capturing my attention Dale is the workhorse, intensely laying down the foundation for both Arne and Jessica to explore the space realm. Dale focuses so intently on Arne that at certain times I feel as though he is sending mental messages with his eyes. As the opening jam flows further on with Dale driving hard I notice Jessica pushing the envelope with her saxophone, and demanding attention. Just as Arne and Dale are top-notch musicians Jessica is simply amazing. The range of sounds and variety of influences coming out of her saxophone are almost too much to absorb. Although she is plainly capable of whaling away she is also able to lay back a bit and blend her sound with Arne’s complimenting beautifully. As she mesmerize and almost cast a spell on the crowd she then jumps into a screeching Skeric like solo, almost scarring the audience into hip flying free form dancing.
From the first notes of the evening it was apparent that everyone who had made it out on Sunday night was in for a wonderful evening of music. As the trio explored an acid jazz improvisation jam a tribal flow began to emerge with Jessica adding percussions on a shaker and Arne sitting on stage beating a small hand drum emphatically. As the rootsy beat began looping itself it was causing a wake leaving further space to wander the atmosphere. Jessica proceeded to pick up her flute and melodically added to the airy beautiful sound. As the music was floating and traveling the extremely accomplished Harold Todd, who opened with Psydecar, but is best known for his work with Lenny Kravitz, was obviously moved and inspired to jump on stage with the amazing trio. Todd picked up his flute as Jessica returned to her trusty saxophone for an amazing horn session. As these two complemented each other like old friends another San Diegan busted out his sax and added to the fun. Cochemea Gastelum, known as Cheme to his friends plays with Robert Walters 20th Congress and fortunately for me and everyone else at Winston’s he grew up in San Diego. It seems that Cheme had come down to Winston’s to help in the blowing of every ones minds.