Thu Oct 7 2021
8:00 PM (Doors 7:00 PM)
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Kickstand Productions Presents
Trying to box Ron Gallo up is like trying to clutch water in your hands. If he was to have a "thing" it's like the monk and the mandala -- build something, then destroy it. Not intentionally but more out of necessity, a way to stay engaged and genuine in whatever he does, forever. His only constant is that there is none.
After years living in Philadelphia DIY touring, playing in different bands, starting joke projects, cleaning houses and filling hard drives full of songs of every genre (most that that never saw the light of day) in 2014 he decided to finally make himself his main project, something he could go all in on, also for practical reasons citing that "if I make music under my own name, the project can never break up, i can just die. It's like a lifelong commitment to myself."
During his final days in Philly before relocating to Nashville, Gallo finished his first proper solo album, 2017's HEAVY META which lead to signing his first record deal, widespread critical acclaim and touring the world including performances at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza and more. The album was described by NPR as "a burst of literate electricity" and Gallo himself as an "insurgent poet and rock 'n' roll disruptor" in response to the viral music video for "Please Yourself" where Gallo and band performed guerilla style on the back of a pickup truck they stopped in the middle of the busiest section on Broadway in Downtown Nashville.
Gallo followed up quickly with the Really Nice Guys EP, a genre-bending joke concept album and mockumentary film commenting on the absurdities of his newfound role as a professional touring musician. Then in October 2018, came the release of his second LP Stardust Birthday Party -- a post-punk/new wave exploration of Gallo's spiritual path described by The Guardian as bringing "the fruits of meditation to Gallo's jams -- a little like Bodhisattva Vow marked the influx of MCA's Buddhism into the Beastie Boys."
After 3 years of non-stop touring behind these releases Gallo found himself at yet another wall. Physically and mentally burnt out and unsure of where to go next if anywhere at all. The band's last tour date was on June 4th, 2019 at Beaches Brew, an annual music festival taking place on the beach in Ravenna, Italy.
At yet another moment of breakdown, Gallo went on a hiatus, deleted social media, dissolved the band and planned to live the rest of the year in Italy in the hometown of his now-wife and collaborator, Chiara. This began a period of reinvention via self-embrace, returning to some semblance of normal life and re-evaluating everything. To assist in this process Gallo launched REALLYNICE.world a positive creative outlet for Gallo to share his interests, thoughts, interview random people and has since morphed into a digital festival and a clothing line.
Only a few weeks in to this break, due to visa issues, Gallo was unexpectedly sent back to America which lead to a three month period of mostly self-isolation in his house in Nashville where he began writing and recording music that would ultimately become the album PEACEMEAL.
PEACEMEAL, to be released worldwide 3/5/21, finds Gallo exiting the dark confines of the garage and going outside to make music with no limitation or plan. The result is a colorful hodgepodge of 90's hip-hop, r&b, weirdo pop, jazz, and punk -- his version of "pop music." Though the sounds have changed from album to album, and most drastically this time, the sense of humanity, humor and a truly eccentric worldview is the common thread in all of Gallo's music. This time we see a Gallo free of expectation, exploring music again in an almost childlike fascination way and playing pretty much all instruments himself, with some assistance from producer Ben H. Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective). Written in similar circumstances the whole world would be in less than a year later, the introverted, isolated perspectives have become oddly universal.
Gallo's mission statement has gone from one of the end of the spectrum to the other -- where at one point he was a frustrated young guy out to try and change the world by stirring people out of complacency he's now landed on something much more light but equally as powerful -- to just be himself no matter what it is and encourage others to do the same -- one of the more radical things to do in a world that tries to box everything up -- and show you can actually have fun doing it.
Confronting one’s past doesn’t always end in a fiery explosion – sometimes, acceptance has the quiet strength of water. Becca Mancari knows this; it’s why she chose to name her new EP Juniata, after the rural Pennsylvania river where she spent much of her childhood. In this new collection, she returns to her past both literally and figuratively, casting new light with a stripped-down selection of some of her sophomore album’s most haunting tracks.
Released in June of last year, the critically-acclaimed The Greatest Part is a deceptively upbeat collection of sharp indie pop that explores Mancari’s experience growing up gay in a fundamentalist Christian home. Described by the New York Times as “Stereolab gone Nashville,” it boasts infectious electric guitar hooks and explosive percussion, cloaking the emotional weight of its subject matter in vibrant technicolor. The celebratory sound was by design – the album was meant as a paean to resilience and joy in the face of pain. Still, Mancari felt there was more to be expressed in these songs – she’d been having a recurring dream about the river, too, which felt like a symbol of unfinished business.
So she and producer Zac Farro reconvened, gathering around the grand piano in his home studio with bandmates Juan Solorzano and Caleb Hickman to retread some of the songs. The resulting arrangements put Mancari’s vocals at the forefront, carving a space for her incisive lyrics to resonate among sparse keys and guitars. These elements give devastating lines like “I remember the first time my Dad didn’t hug me back” more time to sink in. The addition of a string section amplifies this effect – on EP closer “Stay With Me,” Mancari’s musings on “children raising children” and “using God as a weapon” culminate in a heartbreaking orchestral outro. They also add an old Hollywood flourish to “Annie,” the only entirely unreleased song on Juniata. It’s a nod to Mancari’s more recent past – she wrote it in 2017, before The Greatest Part – but it feels at home among these tracks, a kind of unintentional response to “Stay With Me”. “When you fall away,” she assures, “I’ll be there.”
Though there is no shortage of formidable lyricism on Juniata’s tracks, listening to the EP recalls another line from The Greatest Part: “Do you know your body anymore?” she asked on “I’m Sorry.” “Does it haunt you every night? ” Exposing oneself isn’t easy, especially with the whole world watching. But as Mancari confidently peels back the layers of her songwriting to reveal their gut-wrenching core, one gets the sense that she isn’t feeling so haunted anymore.
Ron Gallo, Becca Mancari, Chickpee
Thu Oct 7 2021 8:00 PM
(Doors 7:00 PM)