Watching the Fresh and Onlys on Wednesday night was a bit unsettling for a couple of reasons. Tim Cohen, Wymond Miles and a new drummer walked onto the stage while wearing noticeably sad expressions. Two of the band members were missing. This was a little strange for me. A few days before watching this performance, I had interviewed the bassist, Shayde Sartin. I had expected our conversation to be mostly involving the release of the band’s newest EP, Soothsayer, but the topic had barely taken a couple of minutes. I was looking forward to introducing myself to Sartin, in particular. I was not even given the opportunity. The only comment that was mentioned during the show regarding the absence of Sartin and drummer, Kyle Gibson was made by Cohen. He asked the audience to keep them in “our prayers”.
At the beginning of their set, Cohen announced that the word of the day was “Sherlock”. A fan who had placed himself front and center tried to steal some of the attention by poking at Cohen’s pant leg. Cohen dealt with it by teasing the guy a bit, then stating he would be getting a free t-shirt. The pace of the first couple of songs were slower. Everything seemed confusing. The minimal approach to their already developed songs gave each an interesting interpretation, but the musicians seemed to be holding something back. Once they got into performing favorites off of their album, Play It Strange, the swaying and visible comfort onstage was present. Cohen’s vocals really make you feel alive. That alone makes this band worth seeing.
“Summer of Love” eased the crowd into dancing and let some of the tension fade away. Their strengths were showcased towards the end of their set. They were joined by Old Light‘s Garth Klippert and another bassist. There seemed to be a strong sense of friendship between those who were playing together.
I approached Cohen after their set as he was packing up. After thanking him for coming through and voicing my appreciation for their music, I let him know about the interview a couple of days prior. His eyes had widened a bit before he mentioned that Sartin was not in the best place.
Here’s to hoping that the band will continue on releasing new material with the remaining and newer members. It is rare for a garage rock band coming out of San Francisco to sound so romantic and sad at times. Cohen’s lyrics are thought provoking. The collaboration between them all produce amazing things.