photo - Gone Gone Beyond Facebook
Future-folk quartet Gone Gone Beyond recently wrapped a West Coast run that saw the group make its way through just about all of California, starting south and migrating north over the course of two weeks. Touring in support of 2030, the band’s magnificent 2021 album, Gone Gone Beyond continues to wow audiences wherever it roams with a potent elixir of stirring compositions, emotional depth, cosmic chemistry, intentional themes, and magical four-part harmonies.
This jaunt was on the heels of another excursion to Envision Festival in Costa Rica, where one of the very first GGB performances took place in 2016 , and the band has been invited back (in one lineup iteration or another) every year since. Out of a half-dozen California shows, this writer attended the March 16th concert at The Independent in San Francisco, which sold out during walk-up, making for a capacity crowd that was thirsty and buzzing for the beautiful sounds of Gone Gone Beyond. After successful 2022 legs touring in direct support of Trevor Hall, the group has developed quite a dedicated following all over the country, and the vibe is swiftly spreading around the world.
Your humble narrator has covered the multi-hued sound art of The Human Experience/David Block for nearly a decade, and had the privilege of being among the first journalists to write about this particular endeavor back in 2016. I also had the good fortune of being present for Gone Gone Beyond’s embryonic unveiling at Envision 2016, and have chronicled the evolution from those nascent recordings and performances up through the present day. It’s been a thrill to behold the journey of this project and its participants.
From debut EP 49 Bogart, to first full-length Things Are Changing (2019) and now the incredible 2030, Gone Gone Beyond has blossomed into something spectacular. The group is steadily rising in the culture and the charts, climbing up festival posters’ font size, performing at a broad smattering of esteemed events and venues including Coachella, Lightning In A Bottle, SXSW, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Sacred Rose, and even the UN General Assembly, while racking up millions of streams across global platforms.
View this post on Instagram
After an opening set from Saint Sinner, Gone Gone Beyond took the Independent stage at roughly 9:45 p.m. and blessed the Bay Area throngs with nearly 90 minutes of glorious future-folk brimming with iridescent harmonies. There is an undeniable chemistry that emanates when these four are onstage creating together. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists/singer-songwriters David Block (Los Angeles/NYC), Danny Musengo (Iowa/NYC), Kat Factor (Santa Cruz), and Mel Semé (Cuba/Barcelona), the group offers diverse flavors and perspectives within the songs, and the righteous intentions behind them resonates deeply. There is a palpable, magical synergy at play.
In the live element, GGB’s compositions spring to vibrant life. Opener “Canyons” set the tone with a heroic dose of existential love, brilliant harmonies soaring from the stage to the very back of The Independent, with fans were singing and swaying along from the very first song. “Another Earth” and “Gravity”, each delicate and delectable, tugged on the tear ducts as Gone Gone Beyond came for the emotional jugular early and often.
Each band member had an opportunity to shine, as Musengo, Factor, and Semé took turns taking center stage and captivating the audience with their vocals. “Things Are Changing”, the title track from the group’s 2019 album, saw Danny channel the ethos and energy of the late Andrew Wood, of Seattle proto-grungers Mother Love Bone, the gravelly rasp of his voice coalescing with an intoxicating frontman mojo. The Barcelona-based Semé took the lead for the rollicking, contemplative “Lost in America”, which brought the room to its dancing feet for the first time of the night.
Other highlights included Kat Factor’s absolutely-stunning lover’s lament “Riptide”, which always levels every last beating heart in the joint; this evening would be no exception. Block spent most of the show on a couple of keyboards, but soon he’d rotate with Semé, who would take over keys as Block moved to acoustic guitar for a few numbers. The group reached back for some of its earliest cuts like “Back Swing” and “Here for a Moment”, both acted as a veritable time machine for the mind’s eye, as your narrator revisited Envision 2016’s search for the utopian dream.
View this post on Instagram
Block dropped some subtle house beneath “Carnival”, also from debut release 49 Bogart, and the people started to groove a little harder to the steady pulsing beat. The folk foundation gave some ground to the bass drum thump, turning up the temperature in the venue quite a bit. At one point, Semé was kneeling at the foot of the stage and would reach up and over to Factor, gently lift her sweater-poncho to reveal—then lovingly rub—her now-visible baby bump. This beautiful, intimate gesture received a raucous ovation from the crowd. And not for nothin’, but “for sure their baby is an earth sign…”
After a euphoric reading of popular single “Coast” (a collaboration with Moontricks), Gone Gone Beyond left the stage to an emphatic roar. Wearing big smiles, the band members returned after a brief pause for the cause. They thanked the throaty audience for their love and energy, then introduced a new song “Coyote”, a Trevor Hall collab that incorporated call-and-response lyrics that seemed to catch on with a quickness.
The four musicians display deep friendship and connection onstage, and there is an elemental exchange that takes place between band and audience. Now proudly displaying the little one on the way, Kat Factor would fondly relay the tale of meeting her partner in The Independent green room some seven years earlier, and how joyful it was for them to share the stage together in this room tonight. Another deafening roar from the faithful followed, before the band closed the festivities with the beloved—and ever-appropriate—“Little Moon”. Three years ago, on the Things Are Changing tour, it was a brand-new number performed as an encore at SF’s smaller Public Works. Now it leaks the eyes and levitates, nothing short of a beloved anthem, and might just be Gone Gone Beyond’s finest tune.