Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Alien Operation Love Fest--Alesandra Valenzuela

Let's kick off this blog with a review of the amazing multimedia extravaganza that took place at Blue Rock Shoot, in Saratoga, CA for Valentines Day.  Those of you who don't know Alesandra Valenzuela yet need to.  She is an amazingly talented singer/songwriter who has always had something to say.  Woman who feel victimized by society's body image expectations consider her song Skinny Ashtray their personal anthem.  It stands up for them and gives them a way to break out with joy and humor.  She has a wonderful goofy sense of humor.

Last year Miss Valenzuela had a multimedia Valentines Day show that combined great music with video interviews about dating.  This year it looked like she was going to do the same thing, but it was all a trick.  Alesandra has long been passionate about the environment, organizing the Solar Tunes Music Fest, composing songs about the environment, Bird on a Wire, and founding a non-profit to preserve the earth through musical events.  She wanted to have a larger more comprehensive message about the subject and this show is a vehicle for that message.  The schtick was that aliens kept getting into the backgrounds of the video interviews, and they kept getting reported on the video news doing things, little things, that are clues to a greater puzzle.  As time goes on we get to know more about them and their motivations.  There's a surprise ending and it's great fun!

That summary doesn't capture how fun the show was.  I've presented it to you all at once, but the experience of watching it was very different.  We weren't hit over the head with what was going on with the aliens, we had to figure it out, bit by bit.  We waited for each new clue and rejoiced in each revelation.  All along the way there was music and fun.

The music and the video production was great fun and very entertaining.  The venue is a small one, and an act with drums can be overpowering.  Luckily, Alesandra's drummer, Crow, has an amazingly sensitive touch.  His support was complete.  The beat was strong yet never overpowered the music or the audience.  Most of the show was three piece (rhythm guitar - Alesandra Valenzuela; bass guitar - Aaron James; and drums - Crow), and he filled the spaces with gentile riffs and tasty flourishes.  When guest guitarist (Ron Teitze) joined the band, Crow pulled back and left the space needed for another instrument.  What a pleasure to see a drummer that can do it all but doesn't feel he has to do it all the time.  Miss Valenzuela handled most of the guitar duties with skill, but even better fun.  She can support a ballad, or rock it out.  She too understands how to play as part of an ensemble, knowing when to take up the musical space and when to leave room for others.  Quite tasty.  Bass player James Aaron doubled on bass and back up vocals.  It was clear that he saw himself in a supportive role with only occasional flash from the bass, but those occasional glimpses left me wanting more.  It would be nice to hear him on a jazz piece that left some room for a bass solo.  His supportive vocal work was wonderful.  It enhanced Miss Valenzuela's vocals without calling attention to itself.  My only complaint was that at times it was too deferential, fading out when it could have supported more.  The guest guitarist, Ron Teitze, took the lead guitarist role for a couple of songs.  His work was everything you could hope for, and added a lot to the mix.

Two young aliens, koorb, and tedirem (Brook and Merideth)  had supporting roles in the drama, but didn't participate musically.  Nevertheless, they were wonderful.

I hear rumor that this was a trial run to get the bugs out and that the show will be repeated.  Anyone that cares about the environment should see it, and they should bring along a friend that needs to hear the message.  The show is funny, the music is fun and great to listen to, and the band is easy on the eyes.  What more could you ask for?

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