On an ordinary Wednesday night, the La Jolla DIY venue Che Café might seem like an unlikely destination for most people. Yet, there I found myself, drawn into an unreal experience at the Che Café. It was a revelation, thanks to Make Believe, known as @makebelievediy on Instagram, who curated a show featuring a highly-anticipated lineup: Well Hell, Band Argument, and Quali, leading to the main act: Agriculture. Each band seemed to step into a completely new musical landscape in comparison to the former, with the four bands venturing into the indie rock, metal, and shoegaze genres.

The night kicked off with the presence of Well Hell, a five-person ensemble blending droning guitar with compelling drum rhythms. Their performance, reminiscent of Radiohead’s evocative tones from “The Bends,” transported me to a realm of both nostalgia and innovation within contemporary indie rock. I wasn’t scared per say by the performance, more so on-edge the entire time. Their seamless transitions from slower tempos to dramatic buildups, culminating in intense vocal battles between the lead singer and drummer, left an indelible impression, setting a high standard for the rest of the night’s performances.

Well Hell thrashes on stage in one of many intense vocal and instrumental buildups. (Photo by Claire Locke)

Band Argument took the stage, presenting a stark contrast in sonic direction. Comprising bass, guitar, and drums, the band ventured into uncharted territory by heavily digitizing their sound. Observing their setup, it became apparent that they embraced music technology to its fullest extent: guitars equipped with MIDI pickups, drums adorned with triggers, and vocal harmonizers infusing their voices with a robotic edge. The vocalist would frequently yell machine-like nonsense into the microphone, however everyone went with it, because it simply sounded good layered over their sound.

Experimental rock group Band Argument unites classic rock instrumentals with robot-like pick ups and harmonizers for a futuristic sound. (Photo by Claire Locke)

Quali followed right after with a shoegaze type of noise, heavily reminding me of the aesthetics of Sonic Youth. If I could describe their set in a couple of words, it would be “crunchy noise.” The consonance of distorted guitar and heavy drum beats resonated with such a palpable intensity. They even went so far as to hold their guitars up to the speakers, manipulating the sound into dissonance. Yet, it was a moment that captured the essence of Quali’s avant-garde approach to music.

Shoegaze-inspired Quali bring their guitars near speakers and make use of multiple pedals for an intense distortion. (Photo by Claire Locke)

The evening drew to a close with Agriculture, a highly acclaimed band from Los Angeles, known for their influence on the burgeoning American post-black metal scene. I wondered why the bands preceding had been praising them all night but their performance provided the answer. They ended with one of their longer tracks, “The Glory of the Ocean”, with its polarizing sound and contagious emotion engulfing the venue. I knew I had to come back to see them again.

Agriculture’s influential post-black metal sound filled the venue with emotion. (Photo by Claire Locke)