When you take influences from The Grateful Dead, Jaco Pastorius, and Funkadelic, combine them with soulful harmonies, Central Asian guitar style, Latin jazz, and put them on a Pasadena stage, things are bound to get nutty.
Patrons at the White Horse Lounge in Pasadena found that out firsthand when the Berkeley-based trio Pistachio got them dancing Saturday night in a headlining, jam-like set.
Pistachio, made up of guitarist and PCC alum Antony D’Avirro, bassist Devin Hollister, and drummer Zach Briefer, began melding their disparate styles, influences, and experiences sailing on The Beloved Stranger as D’Avirro and Hollister ventured from the Berkeley marina to the south of Mexico.
Once they added Briefer on drums, they honed the wide-ranging sound that kept the Pasadena crowd dancing, hooting, and shouting during their hour and a half set of originals. After midnight the band broke out an interpretive, free-flowing Simon and Garfunkel piece followed by a few covers to round out the night.
“I thought it was a great homecoming,” said D’Avirro, a Pasadena native.
D’Avirro studied Russian at PCC while still at Blair High School and played punk all over Pasadena, just another example of the many influences at play.
He used the skills he learned at PCC while traveling to Kyrgyzstan, where he added a distinct finger-picking guitar style to his repertoire. He then headed back to the states where he graduated from the Berkeley jazz ensemble along with the rest of his band mates.
Pistachio managed to elicit a tight yet seemingly free-form experience in the intimate setting, switching seamlessly between genres to keep the audience guessing and their bodies moving.
“I Am The Preacher,” from the debut EP Tehuantepec, where they played their first gigs, joins a classic funk sound with an indie-pop chorus for a catchy tune that will stay with you for days.
Far from just having catchy grooves and danceable beats, the band has a knack for creative storytelling in both their songwriting and mythology.
The “Pistachio Origin Myth,” as their website describes it, casts the band in a Funkadelic-esque drama as intergalactic heroes from the planet Pistachion who crash-landed on Earth in search of “the nuttiest grooves in the galaxy.”
The band is continuing their offbeat approach in making their debut full-length album, spending a month in a secluded cabin amongst the wilderness of southeast Arizona in hopes of capturing their signature, unique sound.
With infectious levity and songs that are sure to get you out of your shell and onto the dancefloor, Pistachio blends the best of lesser-heard styles.