Then comedian P.A. Sechler performed in the most recent Memphis Punk Fest, it was one of his first shows. After getting the invitation to join the bill, he ran through a short stand-up set in the time-slot between two punk bands. It made for an unconventional but memorable entrance onto the Memphis comedy scene, so maybe it's just evolution for Sechler to have assembled a diverse group of musicians and comics for his first "P.A. Presents" show this Friday at the New Daisy.
The Clinton, Mississippi-based indie-rock band Fides tops the music bill, with Katrina Coleman, the mastermind behind the Memphis Comedy Festival, serving as headliner for the comedy portion of the show. The other musical acts jump genres wildly, and include psychedelic rock, synthpop, and punk-influenced electropop on a bill that is already an amalgam of music and comedy. If you like to laugh and dance, then, with three comedians and four vastly different bands, "P. A. Presents" appears to offer a lot of bang for your buck.
"P.A. Presents" is Sechler's first show as curator, but the Cleveland, Mississippi, transplant says he wants the show to be an experience that wouldn't be found elsewhere. "It's not every day you get to play on Beale Street," Sechler says, and, to make sure the event is special, he has assembled a varied lineup of performers. The Renders, Surfwax, and the Ellie Badge will perform, and Joshua McLane and Christine Marie will keep the momentum rolling with comedy sets between music sets. You might recognize McLane as the drummer of HEELS and as one of the regulars from the popular "You Look Like A" comedy shows, further blurring the line between music and comedy on this bill.
Though there is a cornucopia of homegrown talent on display, the real gem of the night is headliners Fides. The band self-released their second full-length album, Across the Yard, last July, and on the strength of that record alone, they are well worth the price of admission.
Four years after the release of their self-titled first EP, Fides is a tight unit, and it's clear their time spent in the trenches of restaurants and bars in Mississippi has served them well. Tommy Bobo, Reed Smith, and Cody Sparkman recorded Across the Yard with Jacob Lifsey at the Delta Music Institute, (but I can't help but wonder what they would do in the hands of someone at High/Low or the Old Vacuum Shop, formerly Rocket Science Audio). The new 12-track album flows along dreamily, with powerful instrumental interludes resolving (I wanted to type "coalescing," as if there were some powerful occult chemistry at work) into breezily melodic verses. The ease with which the unsigned band manipulates the nuances of their songs bespeaks a lot of time spent playing together. Fides lists Colour Revolt as a major influence, and it's no surprise, given that both bands are based in Mississippi and Fides formed about the same time Colour Revolt signed, briefly, with Fat Possum Records. And I can't help but think that Fides owes some thanks to bands like Yo La Tengo and Television for their crisply melodic, dark-but-gentle sound. "Brain" is the stand-out track of Across the Yard, at times tender, at times strong and insistent, as chiming guitars give way to the swell of drums and tastefully applied keyboards.
On the comedy side of the bill, headliner Katrina Coleman is the reason to stick around. For a more in-depth look at the comedian, see Coleman's 2015 interview with the Flyer's own Fly on the Wall, or you can just trust Sechler when he says that Coleman is Memphis comedy royalty. As an integral part of the Memphis Comedy Festival and the "You Look Like A" comedy shows, Coleman has been making Memphis audiences laugh for years.
"It's going to be fun," Sechler says, "and that's what I want."