The Optimystic Shines Their Light
A REVIEW BY MIGUEL TRUJILLO
This past Saturday I hiked a little ways to downtown, H Town to a little underground dive called Notsuoh. I don’t know why, maybe it was the cool poster art that got my attention. It was four bands on a Visionary Noise lineup, and an artist was supposed to be painting, so I thought, ok.
I was blessed by five Houston musicians playing under the name The Optimystic. Which turns out is so very appropriate for what these guys are about. Each one of them has a very special light that shines from within. Before their set, I met John the bassist, and when I shook his hand and saw his bright shining smile, I knew that at least on his part, there would be good vibrations. He is super proud to be in a Houston band. He mentioned that they all hailed from different parts of our great city.
Notsuoh had a pretty decent crowd for a Saturday night. Mains Street was alive, people everywhere. Opening act was the venues classic avant garde effects driven solo player, tonight, he was called The Northern Realm. Unfortunately, I missed most of his set, so maybe I’ll get to check him out another time.
Between sets, I was fortunate to meet up with David San Miguel, The Optimystic’s driving force. David was just a little more somber than John the bassist yet shining with magic. I was extremely excited to hear what they had to offer. I could only imagine what such positive people could do with sound and lyrics.
So the boys started their set and the first notes were vibrant and really captivating. They drew me in anticipation of the vocals. The vocals are one of my favorite things about music. Unfortunately, the soundman was new on the job, and this place is a tin can. So, once David started singing the mix was a little too muddy for me to clearly hear the lyrics. David’s choice of notes were quite wonderful despite all of the amputations.
John the bassist sang back up and the harmony was like a warm comforting hug to my ears, I really enjoyed how they sang together. The rest of the mix was perfect. The overall sound was reminding me of early Pink Floyd and other greats such as 13th Floor Elevators and The Animals came to mind. The Optimystic do have their own unique style though, which I totally appreciated, I would never call them a rip off of anyone.
The rhythm section caught my attention next. John the bassist and Chad on drums were so perfectly synchronized that my feet and hips could not stop their constant motion. It was all lightning and thunder on their part, a great foundation for the beautiful architecture of the vocals, guitars, and keys. Chad was so fun to watch as he played the drums, so very full of Passion, he gave the songs so much strength and power. John was as solid as a bassist could be. This pair is now one of my favorite local teams.
The other guitar player Alex worked perfectly with David, trading between rhythm and melodic lead parts creating all kinds of textures and patterns in the imagination. Jackson filled empty spots with the keys and his own flare. I could tell they all had a place and knew where to be and when to be there. Alex had an awesome black on black Strat that I loved, reminiscent of the one David Gilmour plays. Earlier in the night, when I asked him about it, Alex shared with me, “I spent my life’s work on it”. So he customized that sweet guitar along with his absolutely massive pedal board to his own liking. He said he made that pedal board so he could sound like Jesus and the Mary Chain and The Love and Rockets. Together the strings were a great support to the vocal melodies and harmonies.
As for the songs themselves, they had my complete attention throughout the entire show. Being a songwriter, I am a tough critic. Each song had great use of dynamics with excellent breaks, so important in music, as well as the use of space and timing. There were many time signature and key changes, letting me know that The Optimystic are experienced songwriters, and my guess is they probably each have a diverse and deepened appreciation for all kinds of music. There is no doubt in my mind that these guys are naturally part of the musical stylist. I am now a huge fan.
Chelsey Bolden, a local artist who we will have to get to know in another story, was doing a live painting session while all this great music was going on. If you know about Notsuoh, it’s got these old school store front windows, because it was an old shoe store for decades. So inspired by the line up that night, The Optimystic, Mousecop, and Category 9, I wanted to paint too. With an inspired heart and mind, I joined her, and thankfully she lent me some supplies and there I was painting in the window with Chelsey.
The music inspired me to paint the tree of life, which everyone thought seemed to fit in with the mystique of the evening. Especially, for me, The Optimystic, who has a name which is perfectly descriptive for what they do. I will leave you with some links so that you can check them out for yourself. Big thanks to Visionary Noise for putting the show together. It was a great time.