Packed in the backyard of the 61st House Ever Built sat a crowd of loyal indie enthusiasts anticipating a night of experimentation with San Diego’s finest local bands. Celebrating the release of Neutral Shirt’s newest EP Egg Time, the band was joined by Hex, the gift machine, and Emperor X underneath a billowing, gray sky.

Egg Time marks Neutral Shirt’s first release since their EP Daisyworld in 2020. An exploration of time and the self, Egg Time transports listeners down a lethargic current. From the syrupy distortion on “Becoming” to the languid vocals on “I Don’t Know Anything,” lead singer Matty Terrones has proven consistently to be a master at their craft. His remastering of the Daisyworld track “Am I Awake?” in two separate renditions breathed new life into the band’s beloved sound, thus giving the group an outlet to experiment. Terrones’ own experience as an ambient artist translated directly into the self-titled track “Egg Time”, blending swirling echoes and vocal layers to create a perfect closing soundscape.

the gift machine at the 61st House Ever Built (2024)

North County’s the gift machine kicked off the night, swathing the small crowd in a Broken Social Scene-esque blanket to combat the doomsday clouds. Led by a husband and wife duo, the gift machine boasted climbing guitar riffs and heartful lyrics that left the audience feeling full. With an extensive discography spanning across a 20 year period, the band played a wide variety of staples, such as “Into the Dark” from their 2023 album Consolation Prize.

Hex at the 61st House Ever Built (2024)

The second act was Hex, a dreampop 5-piece from San Diego that’s been a key part of the scene since 2018. From favorites like “The Hanged Man” to “The Tower”, the band’s whimsical buzz echoed across the yard and reflected the glow of the backing lights. With whirring, aromatic vocals and trudging chord progressions, Hex crafted a cave of sound to back the crisp wind. Having seen them multiple times since 2023, Hex’s placid, consistent presence brings the community together, each show ending with numerous new fans. 

In a staunch contrast from the previous acts, Emperor X stood up for a solo act as heavy rain began to fall. Huddled under two tents, the crowd crushed together as Emperor X’s twangy voice sliced through the endless droplets. His lyrics took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the voyeuristic internet culture of the modern age, playing on the relationship between crisis and technology with a song presumably titled “Sad React”. Emerging in the late 90s, Emperor X’s lo-fi, brainiac essence has taken him on numerous tours across the US. With a sound mirroring those of popular second-wave groups like The Front Bottoms, he’s established himself as an “unusual” performer, using jaunty guitar plucks and his solo voice as his only instrumentals. 

Neutral Shirt huddled under a tent…storm incoming (2024)

Unfortunately, the tents were not enough and the house experienced a black-out just as Neutral Shirt began their set. Hopefully attendees of this show have plans to catch another show, as it won’t be one to miss. Currently there are plans for a re-debut at the Brown Building Arts on April 28th, and a performance at Tower Bar on May 7th. 

The San Diego DIY scene is ever-thriving, thanks to various music hubs like the 61st House Ever Built and Make-Believe DIY (@makebelieveDIY on instagram). If you’re interested in picking up a tape of Egg Time, there will be some available at the Tower Bar show on May 7th. 

All Photos by Sofia Dell’Aquila