w. Chamberlin, Kerosene Circuit
Wednesday, Mar. 30 – Yacht Club
This San Francisco septet takes its name from the alternate title of Melville’s Moby Dick. Like that fish story, Or, The Whale’s music is about glory, obsession, beauty and loss. Or, The Whale defy classification with their sepia-toned blend of vocal harmonies, slide guitars and piano, creating unique, countrified chamber folk. In addition to the obligatory “my dog died” country ballads (“Rusty Gold”), Or, The Whale craft foot-stompers like “Call and Response” and poignant tales of reminiscence like “Terrible Pain.” But it is the song “Datura” that really captures the essence of this group, describing the effects of experimenting with datura stramonium, a toxic native plant rumored for its hallucinogenic properties and dangerous–sometimes fatal–effects. Datura bedeviled the Jamestown garrison in 1676 and continues to sicken young thrill-seekers today. Like this traditional “witches’ weed,” Or, The Whale thrills and mesmerizes its audience, bringing out laughter and tears.