Rating: 4. Rating scale: 0 to 5.
Rose City Band
Stage: Fasching, Stockholm.
The only thing missing is the smell of marijuana. For everything else, the Rose City Band has taken the American West Coast with them on their European tour; demonstratively mismatched clothes, vintage instruments, a merch table with t-shirts, vinyls, the band’s own xl rolling papers for extra fat joints and a wonderfully subtle and easy-swinging country sound in the style of Doug Sahm and the Flying Burrito Brothers. The Rose City Band, which is probably really a solo project, is the creation of Ripley Johnson, the contented and mustachioed man in the middle of the stage. He also has the band Moon Duo and not least Wooden Shjips – known for the kind of retro-modern psychedelia that borrows from kraut as well as American 60s rock. Those very references are probably also the reason why the Rose City Band plays here, on Stockholm’s old jazz scene.
The band looks effortlessly unbroken out, but the musicians are anything but sloppy. Instead, most of it is based on retained capacity. The songs have few chords and no choruses. The road is the goal and it is during the many long instrumental parts that it happens. In addition to drums, bass and guitar, they have keyboards and steel guitar in the lineup. There are solos of course, but the equilibrism is not exposed in them but in the interplay.
The songs roll forward, can start as low-key country but switch to Steely Dan fusion or turn into waves of fat harmonies from mellotron, organ, steel guitar, guitar and bass. Sometimes it sounds like sunshine set to music; a pure Fender through a Twin Reverb and a bass that never touches the fundamental notes on its journey in the bright registers.
And towards the end of the concert, they are no longer fooling anyone. That restraint was mostly an aesthetic choice, of course they are all brilliant instrumentalists.
Even their support actually deserves a mention: Rosali Middleman, one of quite a few women at Fasching this evening, plays simple but actually quite enchanting songs backed only by the steel guitar dude from the Rose City Band. It had been a long time since I heard such an expressive voice.
Read more about music and more lyrics by Po Tidholm.