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Tag: The Belt

In The Valley Below Strike Out On Their Own

In The Valley Below is having a big year. This Echo Park, Los Angeles-based duo has amassed more than 6.6 million spins on iTunes Radio and Spotify and are in alternative radio’s Top 20 with their huge hit song “Peaches.” They recently filmed a live performance of that song on top of the renowned Capital Records building in Hollywood. And they’ve been touring like demons, collecting fans wherever they go.

Having first been introduced to their music by The Airborne Toxic Event, who invited them on their autumn 2014 tour, I instantly liked their artsy synth-pop take on Southern Gothic Americana. I’ve found their back and forth sharing of verses, close harmonies and entrancing stage presence to be quite mesmerizing. With their touring drummer Joshua Clair, they have a rich, full sound and pack a lot of punch. Plus it certainly doesn’t hurt that the core duo, Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob, are ridiculously elegant and, as they say, easy on the eyes. Gearing up for their first headlining tour this fall, they’ve been performing all summer long at various festivals and radio shows.

Their performance at WBRU’s Summer Concert Series at Waterfront Park in Providence, Rhode Island last night was nothing short of spectacular. I’d never been to one of these free summer concerts before, and I can wholeheartedly recommend them. It’s right downtown at the relaxing outdoor plaza alongside Woonasquatucket River, close to many shops, bars, restaurants and across from a large mall with ample parking. WBRU is extremely supportive of new and up-and-coming bands (both local and international), and they frequently put on free or quite inexpensive line-ups of some great bands. In addition to the evening show, they did an amusing interview with Jeffrey and Angela at the nearby Rebel Lounge.

The Rare Occasions, 2014’s WBRU Rock Hunt Champions, opened. Not only can’t I tell you what genre of music this band plays; I am also at a loss in even trying to describe it. Free-form jazz, ’70s progressive rock, heavy metal, quirky folk (in the form of a charming little xylophone and ukulele number), Frank Zappa-esque “freak out” and alternative rock (maybe) all come to mind, but a firm description remains elusive. They were… weird. Not unenjoyable, to be sure, just strange. I’m hoping that they’ll consider that a compliment.

The Rare Occasions

The Rare Occasions

In The Valley Below were clearly in their element this evening, the rippling water and twinkling lights of downtown skyscrapers a perfect backdrop for their dramatic presentation. From the opening moments to the last song, the audience was transfixed, and that included those in the dozen or so kayaks in the water behind them. Jeffrey turned and played a few scorching guitar solos for them during their set. And speaking of scorching guitar solos, I had completely forgotten what an amazing guitarist he is. The sound was beautiful and he simply wailed. Joshua is a fantastic drummer, and between the huge sound, cat-and-mouse interplay of the vocals and the stark, beautiful visuals as Jeffrey and Angela interacted with each other, the end result was hypnotic.

Though I didn’t keep track, I believe they played all or most of their debut album, and we were treated to a brand new song. I don’t know the title, so I’ll just call it by the repeated refrain, “Oh My Fever.” Which also happens to be an accurate description of the general mood of the crowd.

Needless to say, the place exploded at the opening notes of “Peaches.” The band’s catchy melodies, sensuous vocals and dark lyrical subtexts have hit people just right, and this particular song is great example of that. There is that moment, in the throes of a powerful performance, full audience engagement and synchronistic symbiosis, that the boundary between performers and fans disappears and you enter into a special realm. It doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it’s magic.

In The Valley Below’s U.S. autumn tour will begin on September 25 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is set to conclude in Las Vegas on November 13 for a whopping 33 shows.

North American Tour

09/25 Grand Rapids MI @ Pyramid Scheme
09/27 Washington DC @ Landmark Festival
09/29 Nashville TN @ High Watt
09/30 Birmingham AL @ Saturn
10/01 Fayetteville AR @ George’s Majestic
10/02 Dallas TX @ Dada
10/03 Austin TX @ ACL Festival
10/04 Houston TX @ House of Blues
10/05 New Orleans LA @ HiHo Lounge
10/07 Tampa FL @ Crowbar
10/08 Atlanta GA @ Vinyl
10/09 Wilmington NC @ Ziggy’s by the Sea
10/10 Charlotte NC @ Visulite
10/11 Philadelphia PA @ Johnny Brenda
10/13 Hamden CT @ SPACE
10/14 Boston MA @ Brighton Music Hall
10/19 Albany NY @ The Hollow
10/22 Columbus OH @ Basement
10/23 St Louis MO @ Firebird
10/24 Chicago IL @ Lincoln Hall
10/25 Milwaukee WI @ Turner Hall
10/26 Minneapolis MN @ Triple Rock
10/27 Omaha NE @ Waiting Room
10/29 Colorado Springs CO @ Black Sheep
10/30 Denver CO @ Bluebird
10/31 Salt Lake City UT @ Kilby Court
11/03 Vancouver BC @ Electric Owl
11/04 Portland OR @ Mississippi Studios
11/06 San Francisco CA @ Great American
11/07 Fresno CA @ Strummer’s
11/10 Phoenix AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
11/11 Los Angeles CA @ The El Rey
11/13 Las Vegas NV @ Bunkhouse Saloon

Their debut album, The Belt (Caroline/Capitol Records) was released in August 2014, and is available from Amazon and via iTunes

Photo Gallery

Other videos: Lover | Searching For A Devil

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Introducing… In The Valley Below

At the Boston House of Blues

At the Boston House of Blues

An opening band can often be a dicey proposition, both for the audience waiting for their favorites and for the band themselves, the big unknown being whether or not that headliner’s fans will appreciate what you’re doing — or if they’ll even arrive early enough to find out. Joining The Airborne Toxic Event on their current two month U.S. and Canadian tour is a fellow Eastside L.A. band, In The Valley Below.

They met while in a “fuzz-box rock band.” Guitarist Jeffrey Jacob is originally from Memphis and is quite the guitar wailer, as he amply demonstrated at the shows I attended. Angela Gail, from Michigan, is an ethereal figure who apparently found her muse while on a sailboat in the West Indies. They both have smooth-as-silk vocals that exquisitely weave together. Their musical moods range from Americana folk with a tinge of country to artsy pop to gritty Memphis guitar jams. Oh yes, they also have a kind of Southern Gothic thing going on as well.

A year ago, The Guardian described them as an “LA mixed-sex duo who dress like Quakers and sound like an electropop Buckingham-Nicks.” Hilarious and actually, not that far off the mark.

Terminal 5, New York City

Their debut album, The Belt, came out last year. They wrote, produced and recorded in a home studio. They also mixed two of the tracks, while the others were overseen by a handful of different producers — John Congleton (David Byrne, St. Vincent), Dave Sardy (Band of Horses, Oasis), Lasse Marten (Lykke Li, Peter, Bjorn & John) and Pete Min. It’s slickly put together, bold and expansive, with Jacob’s and Gail’s vocals interweaving and engaged in a stunning dance. They complement each other beautifully, and the album’s production brings out their dramatic presentation, particularly on songs like “Hymnal” and “Searching for a Devil.” Other standout tracks for me are “Dove Season” and “Lover,” although “Peaches” (which has a more pop-ish, radio-friendly sound) is the first single and it seems to be gaining in popularity.

Having said all that, I find that in live performance, they’re far more effective. The chemistry of the couple doesn’t come across anywhere near as strongly as when you’re witnessing it in concert. They present a stunning visual portrait and I can’t imagine it would be possible to fully reproduce the sensuous interactions, subtle flirtations and furtive glances that bring their music fully to life and create an absolutely hypnotic performance. Unencumbered by all the studio production, their music truly soars. Everything feels closer and more immediate.

They still have a handful of shows left with Airborne. After Denver’s Ogden Theatre on November 7, they have a few more scheduled on their own. They’ll be at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on December 3 with Caught A Ghost, and in Portland on December 4 for a sold out show with Kongos for 94.7 FM’s A December to Remember. See their tour schedule. And if you can’t catch them in concert this time around, you might be able to get a taste of another project they’ve been working on. In addition to their band duties, they brew their own beer at their home in Echo Park, which may be available to the public in the near future.

At the Fillmore in San Francisco

At the Fillmore in San Francisco

At Terminal 5 in New York City

At Terminal 5 in New York City

Photos are from The Fillmore in San Francisco (10/19), Boston House of Blues (10/4), Terminal 5 in New York City (10/7) and Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont (10/9)

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