Honeypie, Skee and More at Night Four of the OC Music Awards at Malone's Last Night

Categories: OC Music Awards
Kevin Lara/OC Weekly
Honeypie, Skee, I Hate You Just Kidding, Button Willow Locomotive, Kacie Yoshida
Jan. 24, 2012

And the gold star for best performance goes to--in this critic's humble opinion--Honeypie. Simply put, they were head and shoulders above the other four bands in last night's OC Music Awards showcase for best live acoustic band. 

The band, which performed as a duo saw vocalist Trisha Smith paired with guitarist Ryan Radcliffe. They opened with a moody cover of M.Ward's "Helicopter," and somehow, the Honeypie version managed to out-mood Ward's original. 
Radcliffe distilled the song down to two basic chords, with one ringing out a diminished tone.  Instead of following Ward's chugging rhythmic template, Radcliffe put an ominous slap on it. Once met with Smith's gorgeous, resonant voice it was as if musical ghosts were alive in the room. This song was followed by a slowed down version of the band's well known pop tune "No Difference."  The tempo change, had a rejuvenating effect on the tune, which managed to sound incredibly heartfelt for a number the band has been playing for years.  

Smith's voice is not to be understated. Though in her mid-twenties, she coos with an incredibly youthful tone. But for a sound guy to adjust her microphone levels assuming she can't wail could easily lead to blown speakers. She has a rare gift that contrasted markedly with every other vocalist that proceeded her in the evening. 

Which brings us to the rest of the lineup. 

Kevin Lara/OC Weekly
Country musician Skee, who last year performed with a backup band called the Motion Detectors, brought a quartet of comely lasses known as the "Skeelettes" on stage with him this year. Clad in short dark dresses, the beauties served to distract from Skee's on stage capering, which was in itself distracting. He sort of comes across as a country version of Axl Rose, shimmying and kicking while belting out hackneyed lyrics such as "I'm just looking for some kind of friend. One that can last until the end."  

And though the girls were pleasant on the peepers, they didn't sing in staggered harmonies, but rather in unison, and the effect was shrill. 

Kevin Lara/OC Weekly
I Hate You Just Kidding
Before Skee was indie quintet I Hate You Just Kidding. Despite what seems to be singer Jessi Fulghum's best efforts at retreating from the glare of the stage lights to the safety of her perfectly trimmed bangs, she manages to be compelling--in a sort of a still-waters-run-deep kind of way. I just wish I could hear what she was singing. All said, her woeful demeanor blends nicely with the down tempo, folky rock played by the band, which last night made use of mandolin, guitar, a ukulele bass and sees Fulghum armed with a banjo. The band plays well together and manages to use their folky, hipster instruments with a little more subtlety than predecessors Button Willow Locomotive whose use of mandolin was ham fisted and distracting. This is an instrument that is best used for accent rather than a central focus. It shouldn't sound like a twangy yard rake.

Kevin Lara/OC Weekly
Kacie Yoshida
Kicking the evening off was singer/guitar player Kacie Yoshida who was accompanied by a young man on cello. She gets top marks for working lyrics about the Santa Ana winds into her song "Broken Mind." It's a wonder this local meteorological phenomenon hasn't been sung about more. But Yoshida's voice, while competent and heartfelt, sounds like so many girls one might hear singing in a coffee shop or on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. That's not to say she doesn't have potential, but anyone who takes a stage armed with only a guitar and cello needs to bring their A Game. It's a tall order to entertain a large room with such a sparse arrangement. 

The Crowd: These award shows seem to have as many photographers as they do audience members. 

Overheard: "I want to collect signatures legalizing interspecies romantic relationships,"--some girl in the crowd.

Random Notebook Dump: The Farmer John's samples were fucking delicious.

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