Vandella, Kendra McKinley, The Crafters

Sep 21 @ 9:00pm


9pm showtime

Vandella:< br/>SF’s Vandella is a lovechild of rock & roll, roots & soul, helmed by two enigmatic frontpeople and distinct songwriters. A modern-day Buckingham-Nicks, vocalist Tracey Holland and guitarist Chris Tye mix up a potent potion of sexy, sweaty 70s-era rock & roll. A package of Rolling Stones rock-meets-Alabama Shakes soul, the two met while both studying music in LA and spent the subsequent years traveling up and down the West Coast, honing their individual signatures and tying them together to form Vandella. Garnering comparisons to Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin, Holland is a powerhouse of a frontwoman, whose vocal prowess is matched only by her insistent command of the stage. As writers, Holland is at times intense and bewitching; tempered by the understated, perennially-cool air of her counterpart in Tye. The result is a sound that feels both exciting yet effortlessly vibey – evocative of that hazy sheen of their native California.
Vandella’s 2009 debut EP, V, saw the band move 2,000 copies independently, and in May 2012, with several West Coast tours completed, they released the full-length Fire in the Desert. For their 2014 follow-up, the band teamed up with SF producer Scott McDowell at his Hyde Street Studio C and released a 12-inch, 4-song EP titled Shine You Up. Shine You Up captured the basement-party, Exile On Main Street-esque style that the band has come to be known for in live shows, and established Vandella as a fixture on SF’s indie-rock/soul scene. Vandella’s newest EP, Strange Calls, was released on April 28th, 2016, with the first single, A Feeling I’d Forgotten, premiered on the Huffington Post.

Kendra McKinley:
Her voice is prismatic: hold it up to the light one way and you get honeyed seduction; another, raw power; still another, a freshwater stream. If it sounds like the San Francisco singer-songwriter inhabits multiple musical identities, that’s because she does. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ve always loved the art of imitation, and for me, music has been the best way to nurture that,” says McKinley, whose ambitious full-length, 2016’s TREAT, draws inspiration from a diverse cast of characters -- from St. Vincent to Brian Wilson, Kate Bush to Phil Spector, the Beatles to Black Sabbath. Forging a path through psychedelic rock, pop, jazz and folk, the singer and multi-instrumentalist marries a respect for tradition with a love of experimentation -- like building sonic landscapes with only her voice and a looping pedal. She’s versatile, performing solo, with a string quartet, or fully electric with a six-piece band. Mostly, she follows her voice where it takes her, building structures around a vocal as a the lead instrument, and finding words to match the melodies in her head.

You will feel moved to sing along -- even if your voice isn’t normally the loudest in the room. It’s no surprise to hear that the singer has found an extra spark of motivation the past couple years from working with children, in particular young women.

“I coach 14-year-olds on how to play their instruments, and I think about them when I’m onstage,” says McKinley, who mentors the high school rock band The Roaring Hearts when she’s not on the road. “I love being on stage because there’s a responsibility to be your most authentic self, to be honest about your emotions. When you embrace being a complex person, that gives the audience permission to be complex too.”

McKinley has always been a ham. Growing up in a family of artists in Aptos, a tiny coastal town just outside of Santa Cruz, California, McKinley studied theater and planned to be an actor -- until an accident involving a broken ukulele led her to sing and play guitar in front of an audience for the first time (a Fleet Foxes tune, since you asked) at age 18.

“It was an ‘aha’ moment,” says McKinley, whose live show still incorporates her love of comedy and theatrics. She majored in classical guitar at UC Santa Cruz, befriended the musicians who would go on to organize the now-legendary Do It Ourselves festival, and never looked back. After self-producing a minimalist, Bossa Nova-tinged debut record, Chestnut Street, in 2012, McKinley landed a gig as a riverboat musician in Portugal, then traveled Europe with a guitar, collecting the sounds of places far from home. When she came up for air, she landed a sublet at her big brother AJ’s apartment in San Francisco’s Mission District, where the elder McKinley (Battlehooch) became her collaborator and her band’s guitarist -- and the tight-knit music scene embraced McKinley with open arms.

Treat, released in June 2016 to critical acclaim, represents this period of growth with a set of complex but immediately-memorable powerful performances, all girded by an unshakable confidence. The daughter of an illustrator, McKinley also handmade a coloring book to go with the record. “I grew up drawing, I love to color while listening to music, and I wanted to provide that experience for my audience,” she explains.

Whether taken in live at The Fillmore (where she performed with the first all-female lineup in 2015), from a seat at the ballgame (her song “Fine As a Vine” is on rotation at Giants games at AT&T Park), or alone in one’s living room with colored pencils and a bottle of wine, McKinley’s songs transport listeners somewhere else entirely. Your best bet is to give in and let go -- to be carried off by her stunning voice, her soulfulness, and her ability to be different characters with different stories, one after another, sometimes in a single song. Kendra McKinley wants to prove it to you. She wants to make you sing.

The Crafters: aftersband/