On an intimate stage in San Francisco, indie music sweetheart Katy Goodman crooned, “Waiting to tell you I can’t ever be with you so run back to her, love, because it’s over now,” in her deceptively sweet voice, inspiring fervor in the hip, young and swaying crowd. Later in the set, she used the same siren voice to introduce a song about death, coating her new breakup album, “La Sera Sees the Light,” with enough granules of dream-pop sugar to rot your ex’s teeth. Last Wednesday, Stanford’s own KZSU sponsored a show with indie band La Sera – Goodman’s stage name as well as the name of the group – at San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop, a dimly lit music venue and bar, complete with bearded patrons and their tattooed maidens.
Since I was punctual, as well as uninformed of the etiquette of shows, I had the pleasure of being greeted by the lead singer Katy Goodman at the merchandise table, as she charmed me into purchasing her new album and the obligatory t-shirt. She talked about the benefits of living in sprawling Los Angeles, and I handed her half of my paycheck for a few minutes of her down-to-earth monologue about gentrification. Then, I spent the first hour listening to local band Swiftumz, and the second hour with Los Angeles band, Cold Showers, whose 1970s post-punk sound succeeded in washing away the resentment I felt from the previous band.
At 11 p.m., La Sera assumed their rightful place on stage. My feet forgave me for standing for two hours because my ears were reliving the bittersweet highs and lows of the breakup experience for all 20-somethings. Goodman’s show featured the music of her new album along with a few tracks from the self-titled “La Sera,” weaving the new work’s grittier and more aggressive sound with the dreamy landscape of old favorites such as “Never Come Around” and “Devils Hearts Grow Gold.” The highlight of the night was when Katy stepped down from the platform to perform a guitar solo among her fans and then allowed an inebriated audience member to dance alongside her on stage. The same inebriated fan succeeded in elbowing me in the face, which would have ended in a back alley brawl if I didn’t consider the prospect of being kicked out in the middle of the set. When Goodman performed her newest single off the album, the crowd went into a frenzy, feeding off the barrage of the drums and Katy’s voice hovering above the instrumentals. At that very moment, I – as a witness to La Sera’s great musical power – was seized by the intoxicating sentiment that breakups should feel this empowering.
After the show and the high, I asked Goodman what she thought of San Francisco. She smiled earnestly and said, “In my opinion, San Francisco is one of the greatest cities in our country.” After last Wednesday, San Francisco thinks you’re pretty great, too, Katy Goodman.