Monday, November 20, 2006

They'll Show You a Good Time: The Demolition Doll Rods @ the Scene, October 27, 2006

A true garage band can rock without a lot of flash. The Demolition Doll Rods prove you can do it without a lot of clothes too.

The Demolition Doll Rods played the Scene in Glendale on October 27th, 2006 (and yes, I realize these posts are starting to get a little out of order, but really, who cares.) The Scene usually plays host to the punk, garage, hardcore kids, so this really was a fitting place to witness them…. Okay, fine, it’s a bit of a dive.

On vocals, Margaret Doll Rod screams and moans with that throaty, scratchy voice that seems necessary to hold up against the constant thumping of drums and rhythmic squeals on the dual guitars. They’re not shy about it. The music is sexy; they want you to feel sexy.. or maybe at least dirty. It’s hard to miss the point with songs like Booty Call and Baby Say Unh. Margaret calls out to the audience, inviting them to get down and dirty, proclaiming like an Evangelical Preacher. And, they get you dancing. In fact, Danny Doll Rod actually took the 8” step down from stage to floor and, with guitar in hand, rocked out with me before squirming and strumming through the rest of the audience. I needed a cigarette soon after.

Either the set flew by, or it wasn’t that long, I’m not sure. I am sure though that it was well worth a watch, and that I’m not going to witness a band like that for awhile, probably not until they come back. I wish that I had extensive knowledge of their back catalogue though, then I could at least name more of the songs. However, I know they covered at least what’s on their myspace page and from their album released this year, There is a Difference, on Swami Records.

One last exciting facet to this band is Dan Kroha, originally from the Gories, a prerequisite band for anyone interested in the Detroit garage scene. Replicating the dual guitar and stripped down drumming, the Demolition Doll Rods rock hard, do it well, and make it there own.

For a good time, leave the number on the bathroom wall and go see the Demolition Doll Rods instead.

Monday, November 06, 2006

This Ain't Your Preacher's Music: Bodies of Water at Mr. T's Bowl November 1, 2006

I was tipped onto listening to Bodies of Water from a friend of mine. He stated that if he was going to pick a local band to be the one to watch, then this band was it. Whoa- do they have a LOT to live up to….

Bodies of Water have an air of greatness to their singing and playing that may be unnoticed at first due to the amateurishness (earnestness?) of their style. They admit to not playing their instruments very long, but that aspect to the band has in no way hindered the creation of some excellent songs, in fact, it’s a part to what makes them fun. Two girls and two guys shout out at each other, pounding out on their instruments to the loudest extent possible, and in return, shout back and pound out some more. Their harmonies don’t always match, and occasionally a voice breaks in some spot, but all of these idiosyncrasies make for catchy, head bopping tunes.

The set at Mr. T’s Bowl- which I should explain is in a broken down old bowling alley in an even more broken down part of town, where it’s quaint “dive” charm usually does not rouse me to make the effort to go there, except for tonight- was short (probably only rounding out 30 minutes, maybe more but I doubt it) and covered many of the songs that have sat on their Myspace page including: Doves Circle the Sky, I Guess I’ll Forget and a few other familiar tunes I’ve forgotten the name to. Unfortunately they did not play “Here Comes My Hand”, which calls upon the ghost of Ennio Morricone (I can reference his style in several of their songs now that I think of it) for staccato drumming and something reminiscent of a western movie, only… about… I dunno, abuse or something. Regardless, it’s a great song that gorilla vs. bear put on there top songs of 2005.

The set as a whole was completely enjoyable due to my love of musicians who sing joyfully at the top of the lungs. They really do shout back and forth at each other, but in an “I’m so excited to be here” tone. I could make comparisons to Mates of State, and even mention how keyboardist Meredith reminds me of Kori Gardner from a few years back, but those comparisons would merely be to make some kind of connection so that this audience could get a feel for what I am describing. You’re best bet though would be to go and see them. Gospel pop with all-band harmonizing sets them apart from any other band I have seen recently. You really can be cool and dance to gospel, here they make it possible. Oh! And they sell t-shirts for $2.25!!

They’re playing this Friday at the Knitting Factory, give them a try…

Saturday, September 23, 2006

An Old Familiar Tune- Mission of Burma and 50 Foot Wave @ the Troubadour September 22, 2006

So…. when bands get up there in years, do they all need to take breaks in the middle of sets? I’m just putting the question out there. Last night, Mission of Burma made a stop at the Troubadour with opening act 50 Foot Wave, which I believe is Kristin Hersh’s new band, or possibly side project, I don’t know.

I was more surprised at being able to pick out Kristin Hersh than I was with the music. I’ve seen Throwing Muses several times and also her solo work, but I was not prepared to see her shrieking out at the audience last night. What I love about her is her witty, often caustic lyrics. But, mostly this was just noise with no discernable words. Sigh.

With all my internal bitching about ticket prices, Mission of Burma played an incredibly long set which in the end shut me up about the pricing. Granted they had a 15 minute “intermission” (is this normal? Is this something they do at the Troubadour?) but that aside, technically they did two sets and an encore including “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver”. The amazing thing about MoB is that, even though musically they are spanning several decades worth of material when they play live, the songs still seamlessly fit together. There aren’t huge contrasts where you can say, this song is distinctly from ’79 but this is 2004. Maybe that’s why they are considered one of the top influential bands coming from their original era, they’re consistent and that’s not bad.

Covering songs from all three official releases, some standouts were: Academy Fight Song, This is Not a Photograph, 2wice, and lots more I can’t remember but were excellent all the same. Although the energy was pretty constant, I felt as if something was lacking with the performance. I can’t put my finger on it, so perhaps the problem was lying with me. Either way, I can now be satisfied with the knowledge that I’ve seen Mission of Burma; one of life’s little items on the checklist crossed off.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

At Last! The Canadians Are Here! Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes at the Wiltern Friday August 25,2006

8 months. It's been 8 months since I missed the last Wolf Parade show. And even though I built this show up for that long, it was still as awesome as I thought it would be.

If you've never been to the Wiltern, it looks as if it was a really fancy place about 60 years ago. There's some remaining architectural details that make it look pretty fancy, but a woman's bathroom with only 3 stalls.... dude, who are we kidding??? I'm also quite miffed about the upstairs/downstairs/limited "pit" seating arrangement. I waiting too long to buy tickets, so I ended up in the "upstairs" seating arrangement, where people SAT through the rockin' performances. People, please, it's a fast paced musical show. You don't "sit". You stand and head bob, come on!!!!

Missed the first band so I couldn't tell you the name. However, out in the bar, there are tvs where you can sit and watch the performances, that was kinda cool. Second on was Frog Eyes, which I started listening to when I found out the lead singer, Carey Mercer, was part of the band Swan Lake (which included Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade and Dan Bejar- WOAH! is right!)- who are set to release their first album out on Jagjaguwar Records in November. Anyway, they jump-started their set with "The Oscillator's Hum" (which just minutes before I was telling my friend that if they played that one song, I'd be happy, and they did, so I was). The tempo was different from the recorded version; here it slowed down and sped up quite abruptly. From there the whole 45 minute or so set just took off at full steam with Mercer screaming and whispering his highs and lows with the band backing him up like kids crashing through a kitchen banging on pots and pans. Unfortunately the crowd wasn't into it that much, well, one kid in the pit was dancing all by himself, but other than that I don't think they knew what to do here. I just wanted to smack them and shout "Look, there, THAT is good music. Pay attention and stop fucking talking over the music." When Mercer did talk back to the crowd ("Could whoever keeps yelling shit please stop, I don't understand."), this small voice addressed them, a complete contrast to the roar that he let's out when singing. The last song was what finally drew the crowd in. They were able to build the song up and take the crowd along with them, and at that point I think they may have won the audience over.

When Wolf Parade came on, I think the crowd was finally just happy to SEE them. Spencer Krug, who played the keys during the entire Frog Eyes set, was not showing any signs of weariness and was practically hopping all over his larger setup. Other lead singer, Dan Boeckner, was playing this or that games with the crowd in between songs (Who would you rather be stuck with[locked in a room or something- can't remember] Les Claypool or Ani Difranco?-- I think I was just as surprised as him when they cheered on Ani. In reality, I'm sure many of these kids are too young to know who Les Claypool is). With all kidding and playing aside, the set was incredible. They played almost everything off of Apologies to the Queen Mary (maybe even all of it.) and some old stuff. Also included in the set was some new material which seemed to be taking another direction then this previous album. There was a mellow, jazz influence through some of the new songs, and Spencer even took up the guitar for a couple. Highlights were I'll Believe In Anything, which received many many cries from the audience including myself (this is my favorite tune from them, listening to it puts me in an almost transcendent state- really, it's that good, maybe it's the drums) and the last song of the encore, Dinner Bells, which they kept going on with till it seemed the point of exhaustion. I think everyone heaved a sigh when it was finished.

And now another long wait until they're back. At least the six other side projects will more than likely be touring sometime this fall.

Friday, August 25, 2006

All The Hipsters Yell FUCK YEAH! Darker My Love, The Thermals, and Giant Drag at Day 2 of the Fuck Yeah Fest, Saturday August 19, 2006

For twenty bucks you sure get a day full of entertainment. The 3rd annual Fuck Yeah Fest, located in lovely Echo Park, packs enough music, comedy, art and booze to make your head pop. They've expanded the fest into three days this year, but seeing as I only had enough money for one day, I chose day two (although bummed to have missed out on the Circle Jerks Friday night).

Due to some poor planning on my part I only was able to catch three of the bands performing at the Echo, and the comedy show down and around the corner at the Down Beat Cafe. Thankfully all were worth it.

Since this page is only about live music, I'll just say that the comedy show made me laugh so hard I was in fear of my face paralyzing. Seriously funny guys. They're all part of the "alternative" comedy scene. Which means they'll actually tell some decent jokes, or sing. Damn you singing boys, damn you. If you're at all interested, they, like everyone else in the world nowadays, have myspace pages. Check them out: Anthony, Matt, Jarrett, Jonah Ray, other Matt and some other guys who I've forgotten (not that they weren't funny, I'm just crap with names).

The first band I caught was Darker My Love, who at first glance made me question the music I had previously heard from them- I mean, really! a Giant COWBOY hat??? But my anxieties were all but forgotten after a few seconds of listening to their sounds. Echoing voices, droning guitars layered over pounding drums: a shoegazer dream. I could even go so far as to say I could pick up hints of Spaceman 3 in there. Too bad the crowd was so lackluster about the performance, but then again, it was still early evening at this point.

Next band I caught, albeit hours later, was The Thermals. This band was super-duper hyped by a friend of mine. "Holy Fuck!! You HAVE to see them!!" she proclaimed. Okay. Gave their music a listen on myspace, not bad. But to see them live was so, so much more worth it. To see a band really love to perform, to just go ape shit while they're playing cause you know they're enjoying playing it as much as you're enjoying listening to it, that just makes me appreciate them all the more. Lead singer Hutch Harris, who bears a slight resemblance to Stephen Malkmus, has this nasally screeching quality to his voice that fits in perfectly with the wild, post punk beats they throw out at you. The excitement shared between Harris and bassist Kathy Foster was in turn shared with the crowd as everyone started to jump and head bob with the music. They'll be back later this year, I'd definitely recommend that they be seen live.

Closing day 2 of the Fuck Yeah Fest was Giant Drag, a favorite on the local radio station Indie 103.1. I'll admit that I'd only heard that one song, This Isn't It, but I liked it enough to venture back into the club to watch them close the show. It's surprising how such a tremendous sound can be made with a minimal arrangement. And coming out from there is this childlike yet devilish voice. The double vision of the lead singer projected in swirling colors behind the singer was a bit much after a day of beers, but it did fit well with the crashing melodies. Oh, and they did play This Isn't It.

As a side note, the funniest moment of the night was right after Last Call was announced and I tried to make my way to the exit through the crowd of kids "dancing". The scene reminded me this show on Tribal Dance I watched on the Discovery Channel. The kids were all just flopping, but flopping to New Order.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dirty Girls and Pretty Boys... Dirty Pretty Things at the Music Box August 8, 2006

Ok. So I've come to realize that I'm not "with-it" as far as the MTV/KROQ crowd goes. I don’t have cable and I'm okay with this. But I wish I had known just how popular Dirty Pretty Things are (I would have at least learned a couple of their songs and not dwelt on the fact that I’m still sore the Libertines are no longer with us). Perhaps it would have prepared me for the crowd at the Music Box tonight which included the typical “young kids who scored some E dancers”… who are entertaining to watch, but if you come in contact with them you feel like you need a shower.

In my usual fashion I missed most of the first act, Scissors For Lefty, but the last songs made me bob a little to the music. OH, and they had keyboards, to which my friend replied he looked happy to be playing, like really happy; beaming even. I caught “Ghetto Ways” and “Momma Your Boys Will Find A Home” both surprised me by how good they were. Upbeat, dance-y tunes that combined electronic beats and wailing, staccato rock vocals. Nice.

Watching the lead singer make bird calls and strut around Jagger-like made their live act fun to watch too. However, upon listening to their recorded tracks, it does feel too “put together”… maybe they should have kept the bird calls. They’re coming back to Safari Sam’s in September and are worth checking out if you’re a hipster and want to go dance in hipster fashion.

This was the opening night of the Dirty Pretty Things’ US tour. They had just finished up their overseas (well, it overseas for me) tour where lead singer Carl Barat broke something (collarbone, or wrist.. I swear he said wrist on stage) and in true Brit boy fashion came on stage with his arm in a Union Jack sling complete with cigarette dangling from his limp hand. But injuries aside, DPTs managed to hype the crowd up to almost chaos levels and Carl even tried to play a slow bit of guitar during the encore… Awww, it’s nice to see the effort!

Now, I will reiterate the fact that this was the first time I was listening to most of this music and I can barely remember set lists when I DO know the band… but from what I can remember as my friend shouted titles out to me (so that I wasn’t completely in the dark) they played their super hit Bang Bang You’re Dead, Blood Thirsty Bastards, Dead Wood, Gin and Milk, Gentry Cove and their absolutely last song of the encore was You Fucking Love It. And no, definitively not in this order.

I was not expecting such a hyped up crowd. EVERYONE was dancing, even the old guys who looked like if they shook their head any harder their toupee was going go flying.. or their teeth. And so many punching fists in the air. I couldn’t help but shake a little… I DID have a beer I was hanging on to. Also unexpected was the volume of underwear being thrown on stage… Damn. Seriously.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

No Really.....a Glockenspiel- Bedroom Walls and Let's Go Sailing @ El Cid July 25, 2006

I don’t know why I started creating titles for these….Do you like titles? Really? Okay, I’ll keep them. So, ask yourself, “When was the last time I saw a band perform with a Glockenspiel?” For most of you it’s going to range somewhere between never and what’s a Glockenspiel??? If you feel like being an informed music lover, go listen to Bedroom Walls. They were one of two bands (technically 3 bands, but I only stayed for two) performing Tuesday night at El Cid, which should really boast their “Hardest Steps to Climb Back Up to the Street After a Couple Drinks”.

But let’s start with the opening band, Let’s Go Sailing. If you’re familiar with the LA music scene, you know this band. If you don’t, they play happy, whimsical sometimes melancholy indie pop music. It’s the type of music you can’t help but smile to when you listen to it. And that’s exactly how it was Tuesday night. Although lead singer Shana Levy had to practically fight with whoever was working the sound board at the club to stop the feedback between pauses in the songs, I tried to ignore that and focus on their pretty pretty tunes. Oh, and they rock the keyboard pretty hard too.

Bedroom Walls’ lead singer Adam Goldman works with my friend over at E! That’s how I heard of the band. Usually when your friend drags you to go see their friend’s band, well… you forget why you’ve gone and then get entirely too drunk and try to hit on the bartender. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE! Bedroom Walls plays “Romanticore”. They have a description of it on their page, but I hear it as dark love songs accompanied by a FUCKING GLOCKENSPIEL!!!!!!! If you want to amaze me, rock out with THAT instrument. Also included in their repertoire were a clarinet, sleigh bells, marshmallows, and they too rock pretty hard on the keyboards. They also boast the cutest song in the world. I wish I was more familiar with the band, cause then I’d have a title available for you to listen to. They play around here locally a lot. So I’m highly recommending you to leave your house to see them.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Corndogs and Hip Hop: Gnarls Barkley at the O.C. Fair July 20, 2006

That’s right. Gnarls Barkley. At a fair.

Well, technically this was in Orange County, NOT in LA. And had I known I had to walk through a fair with larger than people sized rabbits, I probably would have gone running scared in the other direction. But I digress.

Gnarls Barkley are known for their catchy tunes and coordinated outfits. Tonight was no different. They all were dressed in matching white tennis outfits with sweatbands and even tennis rackets. I wonder if this was to distract from the “okay” performance. They went through their roster of songs from the album, each beginning with screams from the teenagers behind me yelling for Crazy. But I guess that’s what I get for going to Orange County where most of the crowd was a white wash of 12 year olds in Gucci sunglasses. Cringe. They changed tempos on a couple songs, and even went into some hardcore keyboard solos, but the whole set, which lasted only about 45 minutes, felt as if they were just going through a check list of material and then left. The ONLY real highlight was a cover of “There Is An End” by the Greenhornes. That was a treat. It still kept some of it’s original character, but with a weird hip hop vibe. I’d try to explain it better but it’s just not possible. So, eh. Had to watch the monitors to even see anything, so it was kinda like sitting in a muggy field watching tv.

Oh, and the opening act “Peeping Tom”. Um, white guy in a hair net singing “hip hop” with a chick who’s a mix between Tina Turner and Scary Spice singing backup. ‘Nuff said.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dogs in the Office! Dogs in Sweaters! Neko Case at the Music Box June 23, 2006

I can't gush enough about Neko Case. But I'll spare you the details about how I practically swoon when I hear her voice... no really, I will.

Last night's performance was simply amazing....regardless of how not very entertaining the first act was (although, somewhat redeeming themselves when Neko and Kelly came on to sing with them), and the SWELTERING heat in the club (when it drops below 70, WHY do the clubs want to turn the fucking heat on, seriously???).

I am crap at remembering set lists, mainly because I'm too busy being immersed in the music (or thinking about how stupid of me to wear wool pants and uncomfortable shoes to a show in JUNE). However, from what I can recall, they opened with A Widow's Toast and ended the encore with John Saw that Number. In between was songs from Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, the Tiger album, other songs from albums of her's I can't remember, and a Dylan cover and a Randy Newman cover which was completely listenable. "Favorite" was probably one of my favorite songs of the night, simply because the white light they poured upon her during the song was almost magical (and not due to the dehydration I was suffering from at that point.. seriously, WOOL pants= BAD).

Not only is Neko Case a brilliant and talented musician, she's also one funny lady. Before even singing, she was threatening some audience member she was going to go down and kick their ass if they didn't stop screaming "shut the fuck up". And, while joking about her inability to wear high heels due to flacid "high-heel muscles", she was in awe of the Epitath offices where they let dogs in the office... and the dogs could wear sweaters. Funny, funny stuff.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Girls In Hawaii The Mint/ Tangier April 20 & 22

Ok... so my ability to keep up with this is somewhat lacking, but life just happens too fast sometimes....Anyhoo- Last month I was introduced to a wonderful little band Girls in Hawaii- note: neither girls, nor hawaiian (actually boys from Belgium). They're wonderful, and really nice too... Due to them being from another country and the probability of them coming back soon, I actually got to see them twice, both at clubs I'd never ventured to before, and I'm glad I did, because both shows were so different. I haven't made the effort to see several shows by one band in awhile, but seeing as this was their "testing" mini tour of the states, I thought maybe since I like their music and want them to come back, I should show some support.

The Mint on Pico, was tiny and noisey because there were several bands on before and when GiH came on, the crowd just kinda kept talking, which was just rude. However, that night both singers sang, as oppossed to last night, when only one could due to the other losing his voice; this was at Tangier. THAT show, however ROCKED cause it was just the band, in a room, with everyone showing up just to see them. So no one was just obnoxiously yacking on about how this person did that to that other person and blah blah blah...

Tangier is a nice intimate setting with the band on a small platform so that it feels like they're singing to you, and only you.... so be careful not to forget there are other people in the room and start yelling your phone number out to the band.

The set at Tangier lacked some of the harmony of the Mint show, however, they played a longer set... including some album favorites like Birds and Bees, 9a.m., Short Song for a Short Mind, and then included some covers by The Breeders (Off You) and a song by Supergrass... but I forget which one.

GiH's music is soft and melodic and yet becomes dark and moody expressing, I feel, the truth in their name. It's like a tropical storm where suddenly your blue skies fall victim to a violent thunder and lightning storm, and just as quickly it subsides, leaving you with chirping birds and children playing. Awesome. Go listen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Elbow & Earlimart, Avalon 4/8/06

Recently, due to my liking of the Manchester band Doves, I found myself listening to a copy of “Leaders of the Free World” by Elbow, another Manchester band. The first song is what sucks you in…. you think to yourself, hmmm… this is nice, mellow, and then- HOLY CRAP it just gets so good you have to leave work immediately and drive to amoeba and purchase it all the while telling your boss you’ve got a nasty case of the flu that just suddenly decided to make it’s appearance right then and there.

Instantly I found myself looking to see if I could experience this live, because- as any true music lover knows, you have to go see the band live. It’s like church: it fills an emptiness inside you that until then was just this nagging insistence that something was missing. Well, at least it’s been that way for me over the last 11 years of concert going [note- NOT church going].

Much to my complete surprise, Elbow was playing, and soon. Let me take a moment to comment here that this never, ever happens. When I came upon Wolf Parade, they had just played in L.A. and no matter how many cookies I offered to bake them, they weren’t coming back anytime soon. And occasionally I’ve happen upon bands that have either broken up, or died off… I never get a break here. Except for this time. I’m hoping this may be the end of that curse and maybe this year will be filled with lots of live entertainment and much hoorah-ing from me. Let’s cross our fingers.

Elbow headlined at the Avalon, Hollywood, on April 8 2006 with opening act Earlimart. For those of you who like swirling, melodic tunes with the occasional upbeat foot tapper- this was your show. Earlimart was a band whose cd I had previously seen but not bothered to listen to- oops. Although me and my friend arrived slightly after the start of the show, the band instantly pulled us in. I think what does it for me is the ever present subtle noises weaving their way through the songs… whether it’s the warbling keys or just the way the strings are plucked over singer, Aaron Espinoza’s voice. It’s just good. (Oh, and they’re really nice too- as in, when I approached them-standing in the back watching Elbow play- they offered up a handshake and a hello).

Elbow. Elbow is my quiet little obsession right now. They are probably the reason that anyone selling their stuff on ebay is making bank. Hi- you can thank me later.

Unfortunately there was a techno dance party at the Avalon directly after the end of their set, so everyone was kindly pushed out, and you could feel a strain in the music right at the end. There was probably a man pointing to his watch right off the stage. Either way, they made me happy for going. Opening with Station Approach, Guy Garvey’s voice draws the crowd in while the band just knocks out that punch that makes you lift a couple inches off the floor. Mostly covering the new material from “Leaders of the Free World”, they didn’t forget the older favorites, including my personal favorite, “Fugitive Motel”, a song that makes you want to cry and sing along at the same time. Their songs have this lullaby quality to them, but not in a childish way.

The crowd that night was a mixed one, and all ages too- I hate that. I know I complained when I was younger, but really, it’s like a rite of passage, once you get to be a certain age, then you can go to any show you want. Next to us was what might have been a parent bringing their kid to the show, and there was quite a number of people much, much older than me. I couldn’t get over the guys who were screaming and yelling like a bunch of frat boys, it seemed so ludicrously out of place. But oh well, we all seemed to be enjoying ourselves.

And there you have it, my first L.A. concert review blog. Hi, my name is Bean and I would be perfectly content in life if people paid me to listen to music and send me to concerts, but until then, I guess I’ll be paying my own way.