Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions: 5 October 2009 – Lakeshore Theater, Chicgao

Over ten years ago Hope Sandoval split from Mazzy Star but the distinctive voice that defined the music has followed her ever since. Dreamy and feminine in all the right places, her lyrics tend to cascade down like raindrops on a windowpane. Her work with both Mazzy Star and The Warm Inventions is an example of a slower psychedelic folk with a touch lo-fi done right.

The evening began with a moody jazz track as prolonged entrance music for the band. When they did take the stage, the band stayed back in the darkness, letting the visuals of two film projectors do the work. Sandoval’s lovely vocals floated above spinning ethereal bodies–dancing women whose dresses seemed to turn into flames.

Sandoval, also remaining a mystery to the naked eye, was obscured behind shadows and her long dark locks. She deflected attention, not even talking between songs despite the proclamations of love from audience members. Her focus was entirely on the music.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions just released their second album, Through the Devil Softly, which they worked on with some notable musicians, including Colm O’Ciosoig of My Bloody Valentine. Not surprisingly, the band focused on this album during their live set. Highlights included “Wild Roses,” “Trouble,” and “For the Rest of Your Life.” 2001’s Bavarian Fruit Bread was presented to a lesser extent, with “Suzanne” and “Charlotte” feeling slightly transcendent.

Throughout, Sandoval’s vocals seemed to linger with the effects of the psychedelic guitars she was sandwiched between and, at times, unfortunately, not loud enough to overpower. Individually she alternated between just singing and singing while playing the xylophone. As her music conveys, if you concentrated hard enough you might have made out a look of longing when her eyes flashed through the darkness.

While the cinematic images crept up and faded, it was difficult not to feel the impact of the songs that were longer and darker than most.

After playing more than 60 minutes the band vanished quickly, and, for what seemed like ages, the packed audience clapped for their return. Upon reemerging, they played a two song encore. “Satellite” made Sandoval’s vocals even spookier and more effective with only half of the band present. Returning to their first release again, the night ended with “Feeling of Gaze.”

Sandoval only two words to the audience the whole night were “Thank-You,” just before leaving. And then she was gone. While the crowd departed for the night, the house music played Johnny Cash’s “We’ll Meet Again,” which seemed nothing less than intentional.