On February 15th, the day after Valentine’s, a group of musicians set out to Reset Love at Darbly’s. It was a show with a little something for everyone, set at an undiscovered Houston gem. Doors opened at 8, giving patrons plenty of time to stock up on drinks and tacos. And then, the music began…
“Love Reset opened with a performance by Nicholas Château, an artist with much room to grow. The songs Chateau performed were primarily driven by a simple guitar, soft melodies, and had the spirit of music one would listen to on quiet summer days, or inside almost empty diners at 2 AM. Slice of life and relatable are the perfect words to describe the feeling Château seems to be trying to evoke with his lyrics about love, growth, and losing faith.
Although the rhythms and the lyrics suggested warmth and comfort, it was clear that Nicholas was a little uncomfortable. He moved around the stage awkwardly with a stage presence that simultaneously gave the impression that he was pompous while also unsure of himself. This struggle to find his footing on stage was entirely forgivable and almost endearing until he called out his guitarist on stage stating “I guess the guitar just can’t stay in tune tonight,” an issue that should never be addressed in front of an audience. Maybe his cherry tinted hippie glasses gave him a distorted view of the strength of his own performance because Nicholas then proceeded to reach for notes outside of his vocal range while the guitarist (Alex Piwonka) shined.”
– Jessica Henderson
Modern Jazz act turned Experimental elevator jams took the stage next. Barkada has been making music for a little over a year, but they’ve gone through enough changes to rival those of a veteran act.
They started their set with “Lofi,” setting the scene with one of their most encompassing songs. With an audience filled with friends, it was difficult to hear over all the cheers. The real show began with “DBJ,” a smooth song that evokes thoughts of nighttime relaxation. One of the few songs with lyrics, guitarist Cesar Jimenez drew all eyes to the left side of the stage as he crooned into the mic.
The show picked up with a tricky series of spikes in energy that reverted back into smoother sections. It was clear the band can come to be more of a well-oiled machine, the songs a part of muscle memory rather than something they had to think through. Freer to live in the moment, bassist Ryan Rodriguez, commanded the strongest presence from stage right. Dressed in all white, he grooved along to the music, curls bouncing in tune, occasionally pointing and lifting his bass in synch with points of emphasis in songs.
The backbone of the band is the percussionist, Julian Combong. Dressed like he raided Johnny Depp’s wardrobe, he diligently kept tune, letting the guitars build around his beats. Following “Electric Relaxation,” he led the band into a medley of Wu Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” As soon as the crowd realized what they were playing, a collective cheer swelled over the music. To top off the hype, friend and artist Shambeu joined the band, taking the empty space in the front and center as his own to rap over the final song of the medley.
The band concluded their set with “Union Square.” In classic millennial fashion, they purposely took an awkward pause before saying “Well… that’s it. We’re done.” The audience took a pause before intermingling their laughter with applause, bidding farewell to Barkada as they walked off stage.
One thing that needs to be said first is that the crowd that follows the acts on this set do not necessarily follow Ezra Black. So when the Houston quartet took the stage, it was the first time many were hearing them. And by God, did they knock the ball out of the park.
They introduced themselves with “The Time I Tried,” immediately drawing all eyes in the room. Photographers at the front and audience members alike were turning to their friends, eyes wide in surprise at the new sound.
The band wove in and out from a moodily-lit stage, matching the sometimes foggy spirit of the songs. Frontman Ezra Black gave off a very distinct stage presence. Clad in dark colors and sporting intricate black eye makeup reminiscent of what an Egyption pharaoh might have worn, he balanced singing, playing, and connecting to the audience perfectly.
Jake Allen was mesmerizing during “Pretty Apes,” a trudging, sexy song that reverberated off Darbly’s walls thanks to his soft drumming. Meanwhile, guitarist Aaron Aguire seemed to traverse space and time with his riffs, clearly not one to hold back any punches. He’d fly in at the ends of songs for solos, dancing in between Ray Rodriguez’s bass lines with expert precision.
The band closed with “Universal Outsiders,” arguably the most epic song in their catalogue. Ezra couldn’t even properly introduce the song without a group of young ladies below stage left enthusiasticlly yelling out their prediction for the closer. The band finished to roar of approval.
Tying the bow in the evening was Kid Venus. Originally, the performer set to proceed Kid Venus was the multi-faceted Dead Cinema. But due to medical complications involving the drummer, the band was forced to drop from the lineup. But a space was made in good favor to the band’s vocalist and guitarist, Tully Anderson, when K.V. ‘s Christian Holiday was unable to make the gig. Frontman Franco Rosales and Anderson exchange a smile and a handshake the moment before the lights went down. And then, the show began.
A rock and roll band with a heavy psychedelic vibe, Kid Venus reminds one of what The Police might have been had they formed in the present day. They began their set with “Part Time Lover,” a junior power ballad that does a great job of introducing the band’s sound to any new listener.
Amid a sea of energy and bright characters, Christopher Austin was a grounding rock. He moved the least, but was very present in every song, guiding the way with a soft, psychedelic bass. Speaking of strings, let’s talk about featured; guest Tully Anderson. He was an unexpected foil to Rosales’ own stage character. (Whether it was intentional or not, well, the jury’s still out on that one). For starters, the visuals. As Franco stood dressed in soft blue and white linen and denim, Tully contrasted with bright red leather, eyes smudged with black khol. Another thing of note was the performance style of the two guitarists. Rosales has always moved his face and body to the music, getting lost within it, letting it guide the performance. He danced to it. Meanwhile, Anderson led it. A chaotic force on stage left, he jumped and moved to coordinate with the sounds he forced from the instrument. It was fire and sea crashing on stage, and collaboration I highly encourage to happen again.
“Babe,” the penultimate song of the setlist, is one of the newer tracks from the band’s repertoire. It starts soft and tender, but lets in on the more strained parts of a relationship. The slow beginning gives the crowd a needed break from the dance party the show became.
Matt Coronado built up his pacing most admirably during “Days Go By,” something he’d proved to be quite the expert at through the set. As the closer of the night, Kid Venus didn’t hold anything back from the crowd, all who reciprocated the energy.
Love Reset was a show by friends, for friends, that ended up being bigger than anticipated. The venue is wonderful, with their unlimited drinks and spacious social area adjacent to their projector-lined stage. Keep an eye out for any other shows within the venue and go support. Who knows, you might see some of the acts that performed on the 15th back sooner than you think.