Bay Area Musicians Going On Livestreamed ‘Porchella’ Tour During COVID19 Pandemic
Mount Saint Elias, That Band Frank, and Matteo Lovik are playing on people’s porches, in their backyards, and at closed music-halls across the state of California in a livestreamed concert tour called Porchella. The three bands have so far performed in Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and will continue putting on shows throughout the week in Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Goleta up till November 15th, 2020. Their journey demonstrates how a group of musicians can still go on tour and bring live music to the people in a way that is both safe and aware of the risks posed on these performances during the pandemic.
The idea for Porchella originally came from Joey Coe, lead singer of the indie folk/rock band Mount Saint Elias. Ever since the initial COVID shutdown, as well as the tragic loss 2 years prior of their former bandmate Tatyana Schmid, a remarkable individual who tied the band together and will always be missed, the bandmembers “felt an intense need to express ourselves.” In order to feed this urge for creative impulse and cathartic resolution, they formed Porchella.
The name is a lighthearted parody of the popular Coachella concerts that started in 1999 and have taken place in California every year except this one. The tour promotes COVID19 consciousness by performing in spaces where social distancing and wearing masks are required, while also making sure that all individuals in the caravan get tested every two weeks for the coronavirus themselves. Rehearsals are held with battery-powered PAs in sparsely populated outdoor areas rather than practicing in typical rehearsal spaces. As Joey Coe puts it, “we don’t want to be super-spreaders.” According to their tagline, Mount Saint Elias “blend[s] the acoustic based folksy tunes of Kentucky music with a more experimental rock edge.” Joey Coe himself hails from Kentucky, however the band is based in Oakland. Other members of Mount Saint Elias include Josiah Johnson, bassist and backup-singer who formerly played in the indie folk band The Head and the Heart, Luna Fuentes, drummer/guitarist of five bands including Mount Saint Elias and That Band Frank, Will Norman, a “really loud human” who crosses over as guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for That Band Frank and guitarist, vocalist, trumpeter, and synth-player for Mount Saint Elias, Amanda Spiller, MSE’s manager, social media ambassador, and backup-singer, and Matteo Lovik, saxophonist, egg-shaker, and lead guitarist, who also compliments the tour with his own brand of independent music as a solo-guitarist, poetic songwriter, and folksinger.
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That Band Frank is best described as a “protest folk-punk band heavily influenced by musical theatre and jazz” according to nonbinary, agender artist KC Van Der Zee, the band’s lead singer and songwriter. With Bobsan on the bass, Luna Fuentes on drums and Will Norman strumming guitar and singing backup-vocals, That Band Frank brings a fresh, unusual sound with weird time-signatures, complex rhythmic ideas and pulsing punctuations. Their band is also strongly explicit when it comes to delivering political messages, satire, and a call for activism through their music, playing such songs as ‘Earthlings,’ which laments the destruction of our home-planet due to effects of climate change on the environment, ‘Tick-Tock/ 9 to 5,’ which addresses the confines of living under an oppressive system of white-supremacist patriarchal capitalism, and ‘F.T.P’ or ‘Fuck the Police,’ a song-title that needs no further explanation.
In a broad statement, Will Norman mentions how “we must oppose the authoritarian tendencies of anyone across any side of whatever political spectrum globally. We must stand up in favor of the people, and of actual democracy. That means dismantling racist systems such as our policing system, our prison system, our militarism towards people of the world that we consider to be ‘others’ whom we hate for no reason at all. We must end the war in Iraq, end the war in Afghanistan. We must end the blockade of Yemen. We must end our absurd policies of supporting coups and dictators in South America and Central America and across the globe.”
The first show occurred in front of a residential home in Sonoma on October 30th. On the night of Halloween, the bands played under the full Blue Moon in the middle of the Circle Church in Santa Cruz. After livestreaming in Oakland on November 1st to raise funds for the construction of tiny homes Venmo: @elsatrash, a sobering limpia was held to honor the dearly departed Tatyana as well as to cleanse the spirits of the living, before the bands set off to play at Art Boutiki, a comic-shop in San Jose that simultaneously offers an indoor stage for live performances. The musicians are currently headed for their next gig in Los Angeles on November 11 starting at 4 pm Pacific Time. Follow them on social media, visit their websites, watch the livestreamed events, catch up on details for dates and locations of the tour’s upcoming shows, and help the roadies afford gas by making a donation at Venmo @joey-coe.
In supporting Porchella, contributors are helping local Bay Area musicians preserve the culture of live music entertainment. From That Band Frank loudly advocating for the abolishment of police, to Mount Saint Elias singing smooth harmonies over ambient folk-tunes, Porchella offers a little something for everyone.