As important to producing cranked up, soulful indie rock, San Francisco's Be Calm Honcho places their focus on the aesthetic pleasures of music—album art, fashion and sunshine. And for good reason. Vocalist Shannon Harney, the fresh-faced and sassy lead singer, has figured out that people eat with their eyes first, even when it comes to music.
Be Calm Honcho is a new band, sort of. Formed in April of 2013, the female-fronted, west coast-centric four-piece formed from the ashes of other Bay Area projects (including a theatrical psych rock band called Morph Dwarf). And, they are as much a treat for the ears as they are easy on the eyes when they perform.
"I'm all sassy and swaying on the mic," explained Harney. "Jacob [Landry] is wearing a bolo tie and ripping and wailing on guitar. Alex [Weston] probably has a mustache or a big yellow shirt and he's just groooooooving on the bass. And Mikey [Carrera] is a freaking sweaty animal and human time signature and will probably have to change his shirt mid-set."
Beyond looking and sounding phenomenal, (see the video for "I Love CA," where the crew dons dynamic sequined capes, crowns made from tree branches and uses gold paint as a decorative accessory while riding cruiser bikes and long boards) there's a balanced splash of Jefferson Airplane-style, down tempo psychedelia and hearty helping of the reverb-heavy, surfy guitar that has become so popular with underground indie acts; a vision of California.
"The west coast is a frontier culture, the edge of the continent and the cradle of outdoor fantasy," explained Harney. "We're all beach kids, river otters and forest freaks, and that is the kind of content we generate because the transformative power of being chill and in the wilderness is a message we want to send."
That message can be contradictory to what Harney sees as a duel perception of California by the rest of the country.
"I think a lot of people think California is full of douche bags and rich kids. And with that comes the visions of convertibles and coastlines and ganja farms and bikinis...and who doesn't like that stuff?" asked Harney. "There's a conflict between peoples' 1964 fantasies of San Francisco and the reality now, where most artist folk are getting pushed out slowly. But there's no doubt that there is an openness and a California-cool that when combined with hundreds of days of sunshine and the ability to grow virtually every fruit and vegetable known to man, makes it the place I've never left and may never move away from."
Harney's sultry and honestly joyful vocals complete what the band has self-dubbed a "quartet of sugared, salty hams [...]with a lumpy lunch sack of strange strengths." Among those strengths is a juggling specialist and a smooth peachy vibe that make Be Calm Honcho's music closer to the idealized vision of the '60s California dream.
Be Calm Honcho
9 pm. Tues., July 8
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.