Sun, February 19, 2017

8:00 pm

This event is 21 and over

Since the release of dada’s groundbreaking 1992 debut Puzzle, the trio has created an array of songs boasting progressive rock musicianship, dazzling vocal harmonies and melodic power pop layered with inspired psychedelic and experimental rock impulses. Adding to the trio’s groundbreaking line of attack are the marathon-length shows that deliver on the promise that every performance is the only one of its kind.

Two decades after the Los Angeles outfit embarked on its singular journey, singer-guitarist Michael Gurley, singer-bassist Joie Calio and drummer Phil Leavitt are celebrating dada’s 25th anniversary with plans for a national tour deemed the “dada Forever Tour” in 2017.

“dada is about digging into our roots, examining and celebrating it.” Says Calio

Puzzle was released on September 8, 1992, and it didn’t take long for the band’s sonic imprint to find an audience. The album’s first single “Dizz Knee Land” found widespread airplay on alternative and mainstream rock outlets cracking the Top 5 on the Modern Rock Single's chart and pushing the album's sales to over 1,000,000 worldwide. The band was soon touring around the globe, opening for the celebrated likes of Crowded House, Depeche Mode and Sting.

“People always ask, ‘Do you still talk to each other after all these years?’ So that’s really why I wanted to commemorate it because no matter the size of the career if you can stick together and still have a desire to play music together you have accomplished something” explains Leavitt.

Dada was founded when Gurley and Calio began writing songs and performing as an acoustic duo in the late ‘80s. But from the beginning, their approach was unique amidst the onslaught of ‘90s bands featuring lead singers and mostly generic backing bands.

“Joie and I were both lead singers. But we really found quickly that harmonies were going to be a big strength for us,” recalled Gurley, noting both he and Calio are fans of Simon & Garfunkel’s pioneering harmonies.

Gurley noted that once they recruited Leavitt, they were able to blend the thunderous power of trios such as Cream with the artful harmony-minded songcraft of Simon & Garfunkel.

The success of Puzzle was followed in 1994 by American Highway Flower, featuring the ambitious “Ask the Dust” and astounding “Feet to the Sun,” dada has gone on to create a magnificent discography featuring a half-dozen full-length albums and an EP. The trio has also issued a number of solo efforts and offshoot projects along the way exploring a range of styles including folk, blues, jazz and rock. Gurley and Leavitt were both members of Butterfly Jones while dada was on hiatus in the early ‘00s; Calio has released several solo discs and with X Levitation Cult. Mike Gurley and the Nightcaps are a popular jazz group in Southern California.

Additionally, Leavitt has stepped out from behind the drum set as lead singer and Calio is playing guitar in 7Horse, a psychedelic blues project that has released 3 albums to date. Bringing a stripped-down approach, 7Horse cuts to the bone and identifies core feelings and phrases in their music. Their latest effort Livin’ In A Bitch of A World was released earlier this year. Their debut album Let The 7Horse Run spawned the hit song Meth Lab Zoso Sticker, which was chosen by Martin Scorsese for his film The Wolf of Wall Street. Since then, it’s had over 1.2 million views, 5.5 million streams and over 100,000 downloads.

Long-time and new fans of dada all have one thing in common; they are passionate about the band and have a deep connection with its three members.
You can't go wrong with the word "Horse" in your band name. Whether it's Neil Young's grungy backup group or new Indie superstars Band of Horses, the word just oozes cool. Perhaps it's that these creatures are just as wild and free as music itself. Maybe it's the mystical, mythical traits that Native Americans once ascribed to them. In any case, it's now time to add 7Horse to this illustrious equine company. With their all-important third album, Livin' In a Bitch Of a World, this raucously poetic duo is poised for big visible success. Their gorgeous, guitar-heavy sound, punctuated with thunderous drumming, is just the thing to wake you up from the never-ending parade of pop poseurs clogging the airwaves.

The two men who anchor this bluesy, kick-ass crew, are guitarist/singer Joie Calio and singer/drummer Phil Leavitt. Both were members of the smart Alt/Pop band Dada (best known as the auteurs of the bleakly comic "Dizz Knee Land"). But only when these two split off from there, found their inner truth and started spitting it out as bullets of blues, rock 'n' roll and gorgeous noise, did they become the band they were supposed to be.

Their upcoming disc is where it all comes together. The record is as edgy, angular and modern as tomorrow, while retaining the timeless feel of your favorite classic albums.

Livin' In a Bitch Of a World shows that as superb as their previous work is, the past is prologue to this, their crowning achievement. On 'Bitch,' there's an unquestionable sense that 7Horse has come into their own. It features thrilling tales of grifters, gun owners and drug runners, as powerful as any in hardboiled fiction, and punctuated perfectly by doomy drumming, vicious strumming and lacerating slide-guitar playing. In short, these guys may just have made the most rocking, catchiest album of 2016.

"We went in feeling both pressured and confident," says Calio. "We had the material, the chemistry, the road experience. The third album is always a big one. We knew it had to be good. And it is. Maybe it's because we knew how to approach it. We took our time, but it was all in service to the record. Phil and I would get together in the desert, jam on some songs, get the ideas for them, then stop. Then write the songs carefully. And record them like that too. We produced, because only we knew what we wanted."

Their first album got them going. Let The 7Horse Run was an unsettling blast of musical noir that nobody had heard since forever. Imagine if Jim Thompson decided to commandeer Junior Kimbrough's band or The Stones were back at their nihilistic peak. That space was empty. 7Horse filled it. And, unsurprisingly, found that music fans were waiting for such a sound.

"We began the band without any contrivance," says Leavitt. "Joie and I sent short voicemails back and forth to each other at first. Fragments, hooks, pieces of songs. But it sounded right. When we had enough material, we believed in the music so much, we borrowed money from family and friends, in a real legitimate business way and decided we were going to make our debut with just us two. No extra instruments, no sweetening."

The album was a triumph. Lead singing drummer Leavitt has traces in his hurried, clipped phrasing not just of classic bluesmen, but also of edgy rockers like Warren Zevon. His wonderfully direct drumbeats are as strong and bold as they are full of dread. Calio's open-chord strums and slashing slide playing compliments his partner's intense, ominous bangs. They sound as much like the trigger-happy Reservoir Dogs as they do musicians. Bonus? This edgy, uncontrived music paid big commercial dividends. And caught the ear of America's greatest film director.

"One day I got an email that said 'Martin Scorsese is interested in using one of your songs for The Wolf of Wall Street,'" says Calio. "And he really was."

The tune in question, "Meth Lab Zoso Sticker," a cross between a Native American tribal dance and a twisted Chicago blues song, was indeed used in Scorsese's classic about greed and depravity. Since then, it's had over 900,000 views, gotten over 90,000 downloads and been used by FoxSports on the pre-game show for the NFL playoff seasons. And that ain't all. These funky brothers have also gotten their tunes on TV shows Hart of Dixie and Rizzoli & Isles and snagged a Jeep Wrangler campaign. They've also opened a world tour for rock legend Sting that started at The Greek Theatre and toured the USA with blues maestro Kenny Wayne Shepherd. One can understandably expect such trends continuing in 2016. Especially in regards to the all-important third album. Something Leavitt and Calio have been working toward their whole musical lives.

From the fuzz-stoked opener, "Livin' in a Bitch Of a World," you can tell that Calio and Leavitt haven't just hit their target, they've destroyed it. As with every classic rock 'n' roll album there's a uniformity to this disc. It's full of tales of desperate, hardscrabble guys struggling for a few bucks to buy food, the dope to calm a desperate jones and, finally, what money can't buy: mercy and redemption. There's a sweaty intensity here that everybody, from the hungry homeless to the white-collar guy, will be able to relate to. Fittingly, 7Horse has also recorded a rocking version of The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." That's what this album is about. And what this band is all about too. Struggle and survival.

Finally, there's "Two-Stroke Machine," a tale of intergenerational violence, legal trouble and gunplay, all set to a catchy beat and inescapable chorus. Expect this one to be in more movies next year, and all over the airwaves as well. Because it's like the rest of the group's music: hear it once and you'll never be able to shake it. So get in the car, pop this baby in the CD player (if your car still has one) and let 7Horse be the fuel that drives you. Until you finally get wherever it is you need to go.
Venue Information:
Hotel Utah
500 4th Street
San Francisco, CA, 94107