"Maybe we should just do 75 days at The Crux," Kelsey Swope said to her collaborator, Bronwyn Leslie.
Judging from the turnout at The Crux on Wednesday, Aug. 21, no one would have blamed the two local musicians for doing so. Nearly 100 people showed up to applaud the debut of Swope and Leslie's new project, Psycho Adorable, and to send them off on their 75-day U.S.-Canada tour. While Swope and Leslie's new material didn't sound much different from that of their solo acts--Grandma Kelsey and Lionsweb, respectively--it proved as enjoyable.
In an interview in July, Swope and Leslie talked about the challenges of their collaboration, which is still only a few months old.
"Taking our individual song styles and artistry, I feel like we're trying to maintain this very fragile [balance] where we are two separate entities [but] joining in this middle ground," Swope said.
Psycho Adorable's debut performance showed just how tenuous that middle ground is. Depending on who sang lead, the project's songs sounded like either Swope or Leslie's solo material. Indeed, the set included a few songs that Leslie had played when Lionsweb opened for Finn Riggins on Aug. 1.
Still, the terse, pensive lyrics and the alternately serene and unsettling tunes drew on the strengths of both Grandma Kelsey and Lionsweb. Swope's comforting moan complemented Leslie's aching, powerful wail, and the duo's playfulness and undeniable chemistry gave the set an agreeably intimate feel.
Hopefully, all will go well on the tour; and, hopefully, more time playing together will help Swope and Leslie fashion a more distinct sound for Psycho Adorable.
For inspiration, the pair might look to one of the show's opening acts, the Portland, Ore.-based "psych-pop" duo There Is No Mountain. Matt Harmon's smooth croon and nimble guitar work blended with Kali Giaritta's steady drumming and sweet yet muscular vocals, creating a sound that was at once intricate and direct. Their well-crafted melodies acted as the yin to the yang of their quirky, incisive lyrics. The easy groove into which Giaritta and Harmon fell may have reflected the extensive touring they've undertaken both with this project and with their old band, The Ascetic Junkies.
Heart Hunter, the show's other opening act, could provide some inspiration as well. Local musician/Radio Boise programmer Karen Kohtz sounded a bit raw when she opened for Junior Rocket Scientist at Neurolux back in June. While she still seemed shy here, her subdued vocals and simple keyboard work sounded more confident. This made her delicately crafted lyrics and hymn-like tunes even more pleasurable.
"You're shaking my belief in myself," Kohtz sang. Her voice didn't waver as she sang it, though.