Matt Kivel and Martin Courtney were set to play the legendary Casbah in San Diego last Tuesday night. The Casbah is one of San Diego’s smallest yet most historic bars/venues in town. According to the biography, this place was one of Nirvana’s territories back in the day. This was my first time seeing both Matt Kivel and Martin Courtney live and like any eager first-timer, I got to The Casbah unfashionably early. The venue wasn’t even open yet. So for about a half hour I took an evening stroll through Little Italy in the drizzly night, taking pictures of some street murals and graffiti in hopes to squeeze in a little camera warm-up.
I made my way back to The Casbah once the doors opened and hit a road block with the guest list. Luckily, Matt Kivel was able to help me out and I made it inside just as the show started. The crowd had to be about 50 local San Diegan’s, true fans of both Kivel and Courtney actually.
Kivel’s performance was one of the most serene sounding shows I’ve experienced. It was the twangy indie guitar licks, the colorful ambient textures and Kivel’s soft whispering voice that made this show truly beautiful. I had to stop the photography for a while and listen to the performance of “All Will Be Well.” The line-up consisted of tracks off the band’s LP, Double Exposure and then some.
After a stunning show from Kivel, Martin Courtney took the stage. The band’s sound reminds me of the inventive chorded songs from popular pop bands from the sixties, it has that urban indie folk vibe going on. The performance featured songs from his most recent album, Many Moons. The special thing about venues like The Casbah is the intimacy it allows between the artists and their fans. A lot of communication went on between fans and Martin in between songs. Both returned conversation and cheers throughout the night. One fan even commented on how nice Martin’s hair looked that night, and Martin gave him his gratitude.
After a few covers, the set ended with a finale that included Matt Kivel on stage. When the show was over, I made my way to the merch booth where both Matt and Martin were. We all thanked each other, and I left home with copies of Many Moons and Double Exposure for my record collection.