I recently had the privilege of seeing Those Darlins in San Francisco. I would say The Darlins are one of my favorite bands of recent years and they were playing at The Chapel in the Mission, which is my favorite San Francisco neighborhood. A win win situation for me. I got to the venue early, not knowing what to expect. Front of the stage was wide open so I wandered around a little bit. The venue has the look of an old Kill Bill style chapel. Up front there is a nice restaurant called The Vestry. I’d recommend the Lady Guadalupe cocktail, it’s tequila based but has habanero in it to give it a nice amount of spice. Being there early, I had a chance to talk to some other fans of the band. The general feel I got was that most of them were pretty big fans, but had heard mostly just the singles off the new album and not the album in its entirety. Each of The Darlins albums has a pretty distinct sound. The first one was very much alt country, the second had a very grunge feel, the singles after the second album gave me a garage rock feel and the best way I can describe the new one, Blur the Line, is just straight forward rock. The variety shows their versatility and leaves a little mystery in what they may do next.
See The Darlins photo gallery here.
The last time I saw The Darlins headline they had two really strong opening acts and tonight was more of the same. The first opener Jesus Sons played a strong style of country/folk music that was reminiscent of The Darlins first album. Next up was Diane Coffee, and they killed it. They really warmed up the crowd with a sound reminiscent of 60’s rock and very dramatic vocals and stage presence. In addition to the strong opening acts, Nikki Darlin was at the bar and very friendly towards fans.
After all of that awesomeness, The Darlins then took the stage and launched into “Ain’t Afraid” from the new album Blur the Line. They played a ton of material off Blur the Line and played almost every song on the album. Mixed in with the new works were older songs like “Screws Get Loose”, “Mystic Mind” and “Night Jogger”. While making their way through the set , I enjoyed seeing Nikki Darlin sharing more front woman duties with Jessi Darlin than I have in the past. On the new album, she takes the lead on more songs than she has previously and that comes through during the show. Jessi, who recently went from more of a glam look to a more business like approach had the stage presence of a guitar legend. Her riffs and tone were impressive and compelling. I have always enjoyed seeing Nikki and Jessi play off each other during live shows and there was plenty of that this show. Between swapping lead vocals and guitar they also interacted with each other often and provided an intriguing stage presence. Some highlights of the night that got the best crowd response were “Screws Get Loose” from the album of the same name, “Oh God”, “Optimist” and “Into the Wilderness”, the singles from Blur the Line and a new song “Why Can’t I Change”, which added some dramatic flair to the show. The biggest highlight for me, and what seemed to be for much of the crowd was the song “That Man” off Blur the Line. The song which reminds me of The Rolling Stones “Far Away Eyes” is somewhat of a throwback to The Darlins first album with its country storytelling but still had the driving guitar work. It was also nice to hear the secret track “Blur the Line” off the album of the same name. Through out the show Jessi’s rockstar swagger and country twang combined with Nikki’s nonchalant demeanor and more subtle vocals provided a great mix that was very entertaining. I assume it had to do with time constraints, since it was an all ages show, as they did just one song as an encore. Which was a rocking cover of the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat”. I imagine it was a nod to the late great Lou Reed.
Those Darlins put on a great show and introduced many in the audience to their most recent work. It as strong as any of their past work and comes through very well live. Their stage presence is one of their greatest attributes and they know how to put on rock show. They changed their look and sound somewhat but they are still an amazing band.
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Here are a few Diane Coffee photos: