BECAUSE YOU MISSED IT: Tender Mercy, Soft Self Portraits, Dawg Yawp, and Kate Wakefield at Kaiju 8/13!

Saturday night was one for the books. A line up that didn’t have a single drummer, unless you are including the sparse inclusion of a drum machine or two, but still was bangin’ in ways that a Saturday night doesn’t normally vibrate to. The entire night was one of crescendos and decrescendos that got heavy but always circled back to an odd zen center that was very at ease.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Be sure to click each picture to bring it to its full size; it isn’t very often that we are gifted with such gorgeous photography.

Tender Mercy

It all started with a set from Louisville’s Tender Mercy that filled the back room of Kaiju with the quiet grace that I have come to love from Mark Kramer’s astro-folk explorations. So quiet that the buzz from his amp was almost a second member falling in and out of harmony with the soft brushes of guitar and tranquil vocals.

Kate Wakefield

This led to one of my favorite Cincinnati artists Kate Wakefield and her looping cello and operatic vocals. She is truly something to behold live as bass notes from one cello loop feed into other cello tenor notes while sitting just underneath soprano vocals as they all spiral around and then fall off to single plucked notes and work their way all back up to a peak. At one point, she had thrown a tambourine into the crowd asking somebody else to play it and it turns out that it would be me as it bounced off my foot. Playing tambourine while shooting photographs is not an easy feat but I think I did the lady some justice.

Dawg Yawp

Her touring buddies, Cincinnati’s Dawg Yawp, picked up where she left off with their combination of acoustic guitar, electronics and sitar all drowned in red lights. Sitars can quite easily overpower any other instrument in a band but Tyler Randall has a way of mixing it’s sound into Rob Keenan’s guitar and electronics instead of having it sit on top. They have very folk tendencies but wander off into other spaces that keep getting weirder and heavier until it came all the way back to an acoustic guitar, a sitar and two dudes telling us just how things are in their fascinating aural world.

Soft Self Portraits

And to finish off the Louisville/Cincinnati sandwich, Soft Self Portraits set up in the left corner of the stage taking up almost no space at all. This is how Cody Johnson’s project actually sounds. No matter how small it might sound or look, the guy lays down a finesse that you can’t deny. Far away drum machines and minimal keyboards make up a bed that has Johnson’s vocals put a soft pillow on for you to lay down on and float along with.

It ended a very pleasurable night in a very pleasurable way that put a smile on my face as I walked back into the swamp air of Germantown.

This post was inked and photographed by guest writer Nik Vechery. Nik is a photographer in Louisville, KY who takes pictures in loud environments. He can be found under all social media as @heavychronicles or