Concert Review: Arthur King & The Night Sea and Aaron Espinoza @ The Hi Hat

The Hi-Hat and Dangerbird Records presented an experimental, psychedelic odyssey on Sept. 20 as Arthur King & The Night Sea and Aaron Espinoza (of Earlimart) showed up with music that went beyond the normal audio performance one expects from a concert. A major addition to both sets was the inclusion of visual aids that elevated the already trippy yet calming sounds coming from a variety of instruments.

Highland Park’s The Hi Hat venue offers adequate space for the performers and music lovers to watch on. The building includes a bar, billiards tables and burgers within arm’s reach. It’s the ideal place to get good food, drinks, and watch interesting, boundary-pushing shows at an affordable price. The best aspect is the homey, comfy vibe you get within it all.

First to take stage was Aaron Espinoza, from indie rock band Earlimart, a Pixies / Sonic Youth post-punk band that’s been around since 1999. Aaron’s performance was a complete opposite of that: a part electronic, part acoustic set both spacey and calming yet daring and alluring. Two screens were placed on each side of the stage, setting the appropriate lighting for his journey through the cosmos. Aaron’s voice was sampled live and played behind his singing voice, producing a chorus of voices that were textured and layered above the various synths and pulsing drum beats. The set was one long, progressive experience that had no defined beginning or end, allowing listeners to get lost in their own trance thoughts and keeping rhythm while doing it. Overall, Aaron’s foray into minimalistic electronica expands our appreciation for his talents and keeps us guessing what he plans on doing next.

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Image via Dangerbird Records

Arthur King & The Night Sea are a white-wearing clad of diverse talents all wrapped into one. Before they begin, a large drape covers the stage, separating the band from the audience. Soon enough there are light projections shot onto it allowing for interesting visuals that almost make it seem like we are watching a movie with a band providing a live soundtrack. The music was atmospheric for the most part, taking dives in and out of jazz, rock, electronic and at times, a mixture of all of them. At one point, the visual aid displayed a first-person view of riding a roller coaster just as the music elevated to a suspenseful state, truly making a cohesive marriage between both sight and sound. Although Arthur King & The Night Sea is mostly instrumental without lyrics, they can convey more feelings, emotions and thoughts with a high level of creative expression. Be sure to show up when this amalgamation of influences and styles comes rolling into a town near you.

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Photo by Isiah Reyes

The combination of these two experimental acts performing in Highland Park is the appropriate marriage between of where the growing artistic town is and where it will be in the upcoming years. Stay tuned for more on Arthur King & The Night Sea, Aaron Espinoza and The Hi Hat.

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