Sonic sounds in the lounge


Attendees mill around The Naked Lounge before the performances start at around 8 p.m. Taken by Ariana Powell, Dec. 3.

Laughter could be heard as a guy in a baseball hat and a The Cure shirt carried an iPad paced around The Naked Lounge, as he adjusted audio levels during sound check.

Wearing a beanie and hoodie-leather jacket, Jake Sprecher stood outside of the cafe in the post-rain cold gathering the $10 cover fee to come in and listen to the music artists, Braelen Addison, Melli Farias and MacRae, featured during KCSC’s Sonic Sounds event on Dec. 3.

Inside attendees were greeted by an open dance floor leading to a stage area a few steps up from the main floor with ornate, crystal-looking chandeliers casting light on the musicians flocking around the area. To the right of the cafe, were two long wooden tables, bench seats and a few metal chairs. The wall was lined with geode-inspired resin art by local artist Yana Savina-Gates.

There was a  small seating area, cluttered with stacks of chairs near the popsicle-stick snowflake decorated windows. It sat behind a large couch facing in the direction of the cafe bar that served iced coffee,various Sierra Nevada Brewery products and other alternatives.

The doors were set to open at 7 p.m., but they opened even earlier, though there were few to walk over the threshold. For almost an hour, the only people occupying the cafe were musicians and KCSC members. There were even a couple small groups of people who entered the area, got coffee, muttered “I didn’t know they were doing anything tonight” and quickly left.

Right around 8 p.m., shortly before the first musician took to the stage, the cafe quickly filled up, due to a lack of seating, the dance floor made way for standing room.

Braelen Addison sings and plays the guitar onstage at KCSC’s Sonic Sounds event at The Naked Lounge. Taken by Ariana Powell, Dec. 3.

Addison, an indie pop artist and senior at Chico State majoring in communication design, sat behind a keyboard, fingers poised to dance across the keys in a pair of jeans and a floral printed jacket layered over a T-shirt. As a gentle techno beat began to flood the cafe, Addison’s hesitant voice, singing his original song “Storm,” caught the attention of the audience. It was evident that he was nervous as his hands stumbled from chord to chord. He transitioned to the next song, “Analogue,” with a slightly stronger voice and guitar in hand.

As Addison progressed through his set he became more and more confident, allowing his calming music, similar to the style of The Oh Hellos, to weave through the air. Addison, who started performing in 2016, said that growing up he was constantly surrounded by books, art and other forms of media, which sparked his love of photography, writing and music. His passion for nature and gardening is also prevalent in his music

“I used to work at Plant Barn, which without a doubt influenced my new album ‘Weather for Gardening,” Addison said.

The aforementioned album was released on streaming platforms this year. The gentle ebb and flow between songs, and the sparkling-sounding rhythm easily captures attention, however about halfway through his set more people entered the cafe and the volume of the crowd rose above Addison, drowning him out.

For the last two songs he was able to regain the attention of the audience and finish strong with another song at the keyboard that, along with his first song, distracted from his other songs that had a very different style. The techno frame while nice to listen to seemed out of place.

Addison quickly left the stage after his closing song “Trellis,” allowing a KCSC member to rush on stage to announce possibly being able to win a prize. KCSC said that BeReal, a social media app launched in 2020, reached out to the student organization to see if they were interested in collaborating with them. 

“We were told they’d give us $8 per user we recruit, so the raffle is just one way we’re promoting the collaboration,” KCSC Radio Promotions Director Lauren Shannon said.

For each person that signed up for BeReal, their name was placed in a raffle for a goodie bag that included products from local vendors.

After a transitory respite following the announcement the next performer grabbed the mic. This time the stage was backed with various musicians surrounding the lead vocalist, Farias, providing a fuller sound than the previous solo singer.

Left to right, guitarist Tim Knight, bass guitarist Caden Wentworth behind lead singer Melli Farias, drummer Reese Villafranca and keyboardist Jacob McDonald onstage at KCSC’s Sonic Sounds event at The Naked Lounge. Taken by Ariana Powell, Dec. 3.

Trying to rile the audience up Farias asked drummer Reese Villafranca “What kind of music do we play?” 

Villafranca then responded “Sad music to dance to.” The music started as Villafranca asked the audience “Are any of you sad?,” he then rushed to his drum kit as they kicked off their set with Farias’ song “Ghostin,” released on an EP in 2021. The audience responded by beginning to dance to Villafranca’s reverberating beats, Tim Knight’s killer guitar solos and Farias’ Bebe Rexha-style voice.

Farias, a pop alternative artist and Yuba College student in the vet tech program, started performing in 2020 as a way to combat their mental health obstacles.

“I started singing as a way to cope with my depression and I hope my music can help others as much as it helps me,” Farias said.

Farias jumped and danced around the stage in a sheer, dark long-sleeved shirt dotted with crescent moons and constellations under a corset with three vertically-lined silver rings and black pants and belt. Between songs she announced that they were “playing bangers only.”

Her fellow musicians, keyboardist Jacob McDonald, bass guitarist Caden Wentworth and Villafranca, all matched her energy as they danced and headbanged as much as they could in their restricted space. The audience became more and more hyper as they danced to the beat and listened to her creative lyrics like “she’s a devil woman.” I even got up and danced with my significant other toward the end of the set. The band was able to keep their audience’s attention, even though they calmed down toward the end. Saxophonist Jill Olivar joined the others toward the end, adding a jazzy quality to the alternative pop bangers.

Farias left her audience wanting more, and as the next performers set up their LED box lights, the audience thinned out a little bit, providing some more air to breathe.

Left to right, back-up singers Susana Correa and Lydia Cooley, guitarist Noah Wolfe, bass guitarist Connor Finnigan, lead singer MacRae and drummer Reese Villafranca onstage at KCSC’s Sonic Sounds event at The Naked Lounge. Taken by Ariana Powell, Dec. 3.

MacRae, in his black long-sleeved, deep v-neck vest under a black and white checkered overcoat and zebra-print bell bottom pants and sunglasses, walked onstage with his back-up singers Lydia Cooley and Susana Correa. The rose and cyan lights, that reminded me of Paramore’s 2017 “After Laughter” album cover, mingled well on the black wall behind the musicians.

Despite saying that he struggles with trying to place his music under a specific genre he seemed to almost perfectly encompass the R&B genre. His style and way of performing seemed to almost fit that of Harry Styles’. Still, MacRae maintained his own style of voice and made the music feel very personal.

Even though you couldn’t see his eyes under his sunglasses, it felt like he was singing to each audience member personally. As he continued singing his vest became more and more unbuttoned adding an almost sensual vibe to the set.

MacRae, who graduated from Chico State in 2021 with a BA in music, said that he’s been pretty much performing all of his life, and during his life’s journey he has learned the importance of time and breathing.

“This really started in the summer when I was working on a tomato farm and felt the cycles of birth and death around me so deeply,” MacRae said. “I felt this also when I started practicing yoga —for my whole life I was a martial arts fighter before this, which is such a specifically channeled direction, but with yoga it’s a very soft pull.”

MacRae’s cycle of music provided a welcome transition to a slower atmosphere that contrasted the high energy cloud that hung over the crowd during Farias’ set. MacRae’s vocals did get lost a few times under the levels of the instruments, and the back-up singers who passionately adopted their roles seemed to distract away from MacRae’s lead vocals.

The three performances shaped the night into one to remember with a peaceful and inclusive atmosphere. Shannon said that KCSC was hoping the event would have a chill, calm and low-key feel to match the coffee shop atmosphere as well as end the semester in a nice way.

Ariana Powell can be found at [email protected].