Tonight made twice in one week that I tested out new venues in SF. And let me tell you, Hotel Utah is an odd one. There are tables and chairs in parts, making finding a place to stand a bit awkward. The ceiling is low until you get right to the stage. And the stage is as big as the audience space. But it is packed, giving a smaller show better energy than a larger venue could.
Judging by the conversations I was eavesdropping on while they set up, Wintersleep has acquired some fans. They launch into their first song, under the guidance of the mermaid that crowns the stage. There’s a long instrumental portion, guitar feedback screaming and the keyboardist leveraging the fragile folding chair he’s standing on to delve into the keys. They ease into their more mellow songs, the guitarist and bassist switching up on occasion. In the middle of the set, lead singer Paul gets attacked by the mic. The precarious set up has jostled the mic stand free and he catches it without missing a beat, only to have it happen again, until it is finally fixed.
Their lyrics, often an intelligent love letter, lull me deep in thought. They play effortlessly to a captive audience. “Archaeologists” and “Weighty Ghosts” both open and close with enthusiastic clapping from the crowd. They also played a new song called “Baltic”. By the time they reached the end of the set, we’d all forgotten that there was still a headliner to come.
You can view snippets from a couple of the songs below.
Read my interview with Paul Murphy here.
Wintersleep performance: 8/10
venue (Hotel Utah): 6/10
value ($10.00/ticket): 7.5/10