A Saturday Night High with Wild Belle at Bimbo’s 365

Wild Belle live at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, CA. 5/14/2016.

Wild Belle live at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, CA. 5/14/2016.

It was a Saturday night in North Beach. Hipster kids and late night club-goers paraded the San Francisco streets. Columbus Avenue’s restaurants were seeping with foodies trying the latest Italian or Chinese food fare. Tourists and locals alike intermingled under a May night’s setting sun.

And there I was. Just a girl with no plans who decided to drive an hour out from the East Bay at 9 p.m. because a random girl on Facebook had mentioned she had an extra ticket to this show.

I sometimes wonder why I do this to myself: make the spontaneous decision to drop everything and go; risk all rationale and a night’s sleep when I have work the next morning at 5 a.m.; let go of thinking about time, money or gas, or even the potential awkwardness of going out on the town by myself in a city I don’t even know.

Whenever I come to a crossroads, I ask myself, “Will I regret not going? Will I regret not doing something?”

If the answer is yes, then I have no choice but to follow through. (That, or I have a serious case of FOMO.)

So, when I was being a homebody last Saturday night and saw a new Facebook notification from a stranger announcing extra tickets to Wild Belle at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco with no fee and only “paying it forward,” from one music fan to another, I couldn’t not resist the urge to take her up on her offer! Isn’t it a beautiful thing when music lovers generously offer up the chance for other music lovers to indulge in a night of good music?

I had no idea who Wild Belle was. I had Googled a song or two but was already impatient to leave at such late notice. Also, I was convinced that seeing and hearing them live would allow me to form my own opinion of their music. (Haven’t you heard that you should see an artist live in order to tell if they’re really good musicians?)

I circled around North Beach and Russian Hill looking for street parking. I found a spot relatively close in a commercial area by Fisherman’s Wharf and walked over to the venue to meet up with the girl for her extra ticket stub.

This venue was swaaaaanky. There was a front room for meeting and merch; old-style vintage salon bathrooms; a bar and lounge area connecting to the main concert hall’s intimate nightclub stage; lounge seating all around, with barred side-seats and a back bar with more seated dining tables at the back. It was dark, relatively classy and packed with guests crammed up on their level ballroom floor that offered intimate dive-like views of the band up onstage. It wasn’t grand or spacious, but rather classy and dive-y, reminiscent of a jazz nightclub.

I probably felt like the youngest one there. It was a predominantly white late-20’s to early-30’s crowd with lots of girls dressed up for a night out on the town for good music with friends and their significant others. I probably stuck out like a sore thumb, but I didn’t want to let that get in the way of my enjoying this rare opportunity to be at this venue and see this band who was selling out a full house.

First impression: this band is cool. The ever-so-chic lead singer with lioness hair, a scruffy-haired saxophonist, a couple of organs and pianos, backing conga drums and a drum kit with a backup vocalist lady all came onstage. Once they started playing, I felt as if I was taken to another place.

Reggae-like vibes with the swanky up-strum of a guitar persisted; conga drums created infectious beats; the lady’s unique soulful yet raspy voice floated with sass. Their vibe felt very “safari” but modern indie electronic at the same time. It felt bluesy. It felt sassy. It felt R&B. It felt indie. And then I found myself nodding, “Okay!”

Long story short: they were fun. Their music is definitely different from what you normally hear from contemporary music, but it doesn’t stray too far off from the trendy indie soul music that is going on today. Lead singer Natalie Bergman reminds me of a funkier, ska-like version of Ellie Goulding, as her stage presence is cool, powerful, energetic and inviting. The band as a whole each has their own moments where the instrumentals come forward and the entire room can groove to an electrical beat.  The band is headed with Natalie’s brother Elliot, and they all bring such a unique energy to the stage.

Upon looking more into their music and discography afterwards, I’ve found that their music is rooted in very universal and empowering themes. Their music creates a different sonic landscape to match, with Bergman’s dreamy vocals and the band’s powering, textured drumbeats and echoes telling stories of love overpowering all, advising others to “Throw Down Your Guns” because “Our Love Will Survive.”

Whatever the case, I have to thank those kind souls out there for gifting tickets and introducing me to new music. I sometimes become very picky when it comes to listening and choosing my music, as there are songs and bands out there that cease to impress me… But when you see a band live and are immediately impressed by their musicianship and groove, that’s one for the books. And Wild Belle’s peace and all-love spirit won me over.

 

One response to “A Saturday Night High with Wild Belle at Bimbo’s 365

  1. Pingback: Warpaint’s Transformative Dream Pop at Santa Monica Pier’s Twilight Concert Series (Video Review) | beauty within·

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