Calliope Musicals, Sarah Golley, Erica Wolfling
Wednesday, October 16, 7pm doors/8pm show, $7
Award-winning psychedelic party pop act from Austin, Texas
Baroque alternative pop from New Haven, Connecticut
To attempt to put Calliope Musicals in a specific category would yield a variety of labels; a psychedelic folk band, an experimental art collective, or even a high energy, circus-esque performance group. In actuality, Calliope Musicals is all of those things. To label Calliope Musicals a band might be selling them short, because—while the six-piece group’s primary medium is music—their live show is an auditory, visual and genuinely transportive experience
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Calliope Musicals is widely known as a band of charismatic, vibrant musicians who capture the eclectic vibe that permeates through the Live Music mecca they call home. Their intrinsic authenticity and talk-of-the-town stage show has already provided them with musical accolades including write-ups in Billboard and Paste Magazine. Their single “Party Master & the Space Brigade” was featured on NPR Music’s “Songs We Love” and The Austin Chronicle revered them as “Technicolor folkies [who] concoct eclectic dance-rock jubilee for the barefoot crowd.” KUTX’s Austin Music Minute said “Equal parts folk, roots and pop, Calliope Musicals blissfully spins multi-colored psych with arms outstretched to dizzying heights. Approach with open heart, open mind and open ears. Needless to say, this will make you happy.”
While the band describes their style as psychedelic party folk, the actual sound—a harmonious blend of drums, guitar, bass, a hybrid instrument known as a xylosynth and Fussell’s powerful voice—is hard to define and varies substantially by song. What is consistent, however, is the element of storytelling that courses through every track in the Calliope catalogue.
“Our music centers around a certain energy more than a certain style,” the perpetually barefoot Fussell says. “We’ll do rock, then dance-y disco, then some slow sit-down [songs]. At the end of the day, it feels like the music revolves around imagination and adventure more than it does a specific type of music.”
That imagination and sense of adventure has been a source of inspiration for the band and beautifully translates through every track, regardless of its melodic variety. For example, “Echo of the Whoos,” the second track off of their freEP, was one of the first songs that the band’s current lineup tackled. Fussell had written the lyrics and vocal melody quite some time before the band picked it up, and the “Whoos” were added after she brought it to the whole band as a response to their instrumental collaboration. Fussell explains, “I was inspired by Studio 54; the nostalgia that my generation has for that period of time, and the way that we sometimes blame our current decade for our inability to cut loose and have fun. Almost as though there was never a better time or place to feel good and be yourself as New York in the 70’s. We wanted a song that created movement in our crowd, and the hook “you can do it, too” is so encouraging. People have this idea that only really famously fabulous people can have their dream life, and it just isn’t true! Good times are for everybody. The verse lyrics nod to very exclusive experiences, whereas the chorus is this wildly romantic encouragement against exclusivity.”
But lyrics and sound aside, perhaps the most captivating aspects of the group’s show are the integration of props and their focus on crowd involvement. During most performances, beaming audience members can be found swaying with sparklers, bouncing with balloons, and singing along while waving cardboard signs hand-crafted from Shiner Bock boxes—all handed out by animal-costume-attired friends of the band.
The band played here on the front stage in 2015, and again in the summer of 2016 and autumn of 2017, and they just graced our stage again in July.
Their latest album, Color/Sweat as just released.
“Stephen compared the group’s energy and showmanship to that of the spiritual jazzman Sun Ra…the Austin band presents a rich and swirling example of modern space-rock done right.” — Bob Boilen, NPR All Songs Considered
“At 1 a.m, I ended up upstairs at Tellers, watching Calliope Musicals’ singer Carrie Fussell sit on the floor, gazing directly into the eyes of fans seating around her, as the band played psychedelic show tune improv jazz behind her. Next came the freeform dance led by a costumed alien with a video screen on her (his?) chest, and finally, someone passed out signs reading ENJOY as the whole room joined in the Calliope Musicals mantra: “I dreamed this dream would never end.” Magical. I now have a protective cone of beautiful vibes around me and will float through the rest of this fest.” – Ann Powers, NPR All Songs Considered
“Who Brings A Confetti Cannon To A Fun Fight? Calliope Musicals Does.” – NPR
“This Austin six-piece channels youthful energy that shows how much enjoyment can be found in life.” -KUTX
“Jubilant psych-folk ensemble dosed with LSD.” — The Austin Chronicle
“Calliope Musicals’ inhibition-shattering live performances – an uplifting bacchanal of streamers, signs, flowers, costumes, and confetti that makes Flaming Lips shows look conservative by comparison – remain of beacon of positivity.” – The Austin Chronicle
“Unicorns, glitter, and dancing shoes- Calliope Musicals is a feel-good ELO, Edward Sharpe, meets Janis Joplin mashup of epic proportions. They don’t just put on a show, they give you an experience.” – doNYC
Austin Chronicle’s Best New Band (2015)
Austin Chronicle’s Band of the Year (2016)
Here’s a little interview from The Wall Street Journal:
Sarah Golley combines an eclectic mixture of genres, weaved with sincere lyricism, using a keyboard, her voice, and a looper. Her influences include a background in musical theater, Romantic and 20th century post-tonal composers, choral singing, jazz, and visual lyricists. Sarah uses music to grow as a human. She hopes others will relate to her journey on this strange and beautiful planet.
“Equipped with only a keyboard and looping machine, Golley is able to achieve a moody opulence rare among solo artists.”- The Village Voice
Event page: www.facebook.com/events/408887973314671