Another beautiful Saturday night brought me to the Shrunken Head, a gem of a bar located on 5th Avenue, with a sign in the window announcing “Last beer until Grandview!” I’ve always wondered how much extra traffic they get heading west with that, but I know that when there’s a live show it usually ends up being a dandy.
The bar was crowded when we arrived, in spite of the heavy traffic bleeding off of High St. I was hoping for a good sized crowd, as the show was booked as a benefit for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. They were also taking donations for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
I met up with Amy Kies and Joe Graham (the brains behind Javelina) before the show and they were bubbling with anticipation towards bringing their unique set to life.
The duo took the stage with Joe on keyboards and Amy on guitar, and she announced that the two of them were “not really musicians, just artists who like to make things… including music.” The first song for their set was Bury Your Bitter Heart, a tale about “murder, for all the right reasons.” The song opened with a slow creeping guitar and a disjointed bunch of piano keys that were seemingly smashed together for the sole purpose of their own creepy juxtaposition.
Life’s Last Breath came next, with a catchy, jumpy opening leading into a haunting, Halloween-esque bit of keys as Amy wailed on the chorus. Every single song the duo played had extremely dark undertones, and the smoke in Amy’s voice seemed to drown all of my senses individually.
They switched positions for Someday, a song inspired by Kurt Vonnegut. The song may have sounded happier from a musical standpoint, but Amy’s voice was significantly more somber as she pulled everyone around her in and almost onto the stage with her dark passion.
Meteor Song slowed everything down as Joe scratched up and down his guitar. The keyboard almost had a symphonic feel to it, as if there were more than two people participating on the song. It’s hard to tell which part was more exciting, but when pushed together the sounds induced an almost trance-like state in the crowd around me.
The group switched places again and both carried guitars as Amy stood in front of the piano to play Unexplainable. The song had a more positive tone to it as Amy’s voice filled the entirety of the Shrunken Head, driving out any darkness left in the venue. You could feel the energy as her voice cascaded down upon us, and the entire crowd around me rose to their feet at the end as she let out one more spine-tingling shriek.
The final song for the night was Stays The Same, featuring passionate vocals complemented by an utterly lethargic guitar procession. It was the perfect song to finish the set, slowing the tempo and bringing the band back to earth. It was almost a shame that the evening was only six songs long, but you could tell that nobody in the room was disappointed after such a powerful set.
The six-pack of aural solemnity was capped with a session of blind face-painting, in which my photographer, Jaime, and I sat down with Tyvek masks and exposed our souls to each other. It was quite thrilling to be so vulnerable, as I could not see anything that was happening. But, I could feel the hands on my face and I could feel her face underneath my digits. We had no idea what was happening outside of our own mental imagery, and we were both quite pleased after the fact.
Check it out, and be sure to participate next time you see this band live!
Ed. – Read the Jester’s interview with Javelina HERE
Credit all images: J Courtney / Music in Motion Columbus
- Bury Your Bitter Heart
- Life’s Last Breath
- Meteor Song
- Stays The Same
I was also blessed with permission from the band to share two of their short films, of which they wrote the musical score for as well. I will have those finished next week, and I promise you’re going to want to give them a peep. Here’s one of their short films that they scored earlier this year.