Friday, April 27, 2007

When a Side Project is more than a Side Project: Sunset Rubdown @ the Troubadour, Tuesday April 24, 2007

For a sold out show it really wasn’t packed at the Troubadour this night. The crowd seemed kinda young too, I think perhaps it was 18+, although, I don’t know if they do all ages shows there or not. I do know that I got to sit upstairs again and watch Sunset Rubdown without getting smooshed between some kids.

Technically, this is the 3rd time in the last eight months I’ve seen Spencer Krug perform. The first two times were in the same night though, when he doubled up and played keys for BOTH Frog Eyes and Wolf Parade. I thought there might be a small chance that he would play with Frog Eyes again when they come to Spaceland on May 5th, but I checked the tour dates, and Sunset Rubdown are in Boston that night, so.. no then.

Katie Eastburn opened the set that night. I really know nothing about her except that her vocals and stripped down set of just keys and a kick drum proved fitting to open the show. Her voice is that low-fi indie girl pop voice that I hear again and again now; there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just that it didn’t sound ‘different’. I found that I distracted myself through her entire set wondering who she actually sounded like though.

Katie Eastburn and Spencer Krug shared a keyboard, not at the same time mind you, but each used the same one in their respective sets. Funny thing about this keyboard was the very odd table lamp that was securely glued onto the end of it. It looked like something out of a garage find, or what you would have had in your dorm in college: old and ratty. I kept waiting for it to go crashing off to the side, as the patched shade would allude to, but alas, it stayed put, regardless of how vehemently Krug knocked the keyboard around.

Krug began the set by announcing, “Hi, we’re Wolf Parade”. Both bands share some things in common (besides Krug), like the song “I’ll Believe in Anything”, which perhaps I can say is my favorite of the WP songs; it was not played tonight though. They did cover many songs off of “Shut Up I Am Dreaming” including- Stadiums and Shrine II, Us Ones In Between…maybe The Men Are Called Horsemen There, They Took A Vote and Said No (actually I’m pretty sure they played that). Sorry guys, I was distracted for the first ten or so minutes by these two kids next to us (upstairs, and yes, I know people can talk up there, but please, if you see people enjoying the show, don’t walk right up next to them and start loudly talking over the music about how much you do not like what you are watching. Had I not been restrained by a good view, I would have interrupted their conversation. Oof.. rude…) so the first couple of songs did not get my full attention.

I like how everyone pretty much does double duty in this band (except for perhaps the guitarist). Krug sings and plays the keys and the sometimes the guitar, Camilla Ingr does backup vocals and plays the keys and the XYLOPHONE (which I for some reason or another find amusing), and Jordan Robson Cramer plays drums and does keys. Whew! (oh, and it was Camilla's birthday today too- 26, just in case you wanted to know).

Xiu Xiu was the actual headlining band for this show. Honestly though, I only came for Sunset Rubdown, so we packed it up after their set, which was great. I’m recommending that everyone go and see Frog Eyes when they come and play, Carey Mercer is amazing to watch live, almost scary sometimes, and sure to be an awesome show.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Let the Darkness Seep In: The Black Pine @ the Echo Monday April 16, 2007

Tonight bordered on becoming the night I tried to cram too many things into an evening and almost missed a show. Luckily the timing gods were on my side because as soon as we stepped through the doors of the echo, well, the second set of doors, The Black Pine started to play. Whew!

Tonight was their third Monday residence over at the Echo and because we were cutting it close, missed the opening bands, including the Moon Upstairs. I love residencies for a couple of reasons. First, there is usually a new lineup with the band every week. Secondly, sometimes the residencies are free, like this one, although I'd probably pay but whatever, free is good. And lastly, sometimes you have an awesome band and are lucky enough that there are FIVE Mondays in a month to catch them on.

I believe the set was around 45 minutes or so. I was familiar with most of the songs from their album (released last year)- it's been a good two months since I last listened to them. Although a four piece, they did bring on another female singer and a violinist. Unfortunately the vocals on the girl were too low and left my ears straining. I can't recall if they usually light candles in front on the stage or not, but regardless, they almost seemed a necessary element for this particular show, and the electric candelabra didn't hurt either. Why? Because The Black Pine produce this dark, moody music that amazingly doesn't ever reach the point of becoming 'goth' and just pour out emotion in both lyrics and in vocals that gives you a slight chill.

The only problem I had with the show was that lead singer Mitch Cichocki is so emotionless when he sings (I had to keep looking away cause I found it so distracting). His face barely moved until, between songs, someone shouted out something at him that made him smile and then his whole face became animated... If that could translate into the performance somehow then it would have been perfect. Ah well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Booze, Bowling, and Bu- Music, The Spires @ the Eagle Rock Sunday Night Bowling & Drinking Club Sunday April 15, 2007

Eagle Rock Sunday Night Bowling & Drinking Club. This is the most genius event ever, really... ever. Music and drinking and throwing shit that potentially could cost hundreds of dollars in repairs or even a lawsuit. In case you've never heard of this, and chances are you haven't unless you're in Eagle Rock, or know someone who is, then pretty much it's an excuse to throw a show in a bowling alley. Bands play, this week it was someone's birthday and I got to eat a twinkie for the first time in forever. Speaking of bands, let's actually review one of them.

The Spires were the opening act Sunday night, and also the reason I was popping over there to check out the show. The Henry Clay People were also on board, but since I'm still suffering from the black lung, I left after the first act.

I've read/heard them described as "Twee" and "British-sounding" and all other manner of words that don't entirely grasp The Spires. Truth is, their sound is mellow, meandering through songs while being low-fi but not making you sleepy and then will pick up and be poppy without being, well, poppy. Singer-guitarist Jason has a voice that sounds like John
Darnielle from the Mountain Goats (or at least live I find that that's the case.) but not as bitter sounding. I disagree with all the melancholy references I've seen about this band- I find them quite warm. The storyteller quality of the lyrics/songs makes me think of Lou Reed (and yes, that is an influence) and there is an underlying jazz rhythm in the drums sometimes that I find unique.

So, among the balloons and pin the tale on the donkey games, and twinkies, the Spires played a pretty upbeat set that was well worth risking pneumonia for. I'm a bit more partial to their live sets then their recorded stuff, but I haven't given their eps/lps a fair listen to. If you want to read up some more on the band, click over to Radio Free Silver Lake for a mini interview, and then click back over here cause there'll be another post up soon (yeah, amazing, I know.)...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Los Straitjackets al RESCATE! Safari Sam's 1 Year Anniversary Show Friday, April 13, 2007

There were plenty of good shows around LA last night. Ted Leo was at the El Rey, Kelley Stoltz & Essex Green were playing at Spaceland, and Peter and the Wolf was over at Pehrspace. But did any of these fine musicians dress up in Lucha Libre masks and perform synchronized guitar thrusts? NO? Well Los Straitjackets did.

Oddly, KCRW sponsored the event at Safari Sam's. I don't remember ever turning to that station and hearing a Rockabilly song, ever. But whatever, it was mildly amusing to see among the greaser kids shockingly out of place late-40's type men sporting bald-on-top-ponytails and women who I swear were working the info desk last time I was at the library. I guess when KCRW's name is on an event people don't even bother finding out what they are going to. I'm not trying to sound mean if that's what you're thinking. Stop thinking that.

Opening for Los Straitjackets were Gamblers Mark and Devil Doll. Gamblers Mark I've seen before, I believe playing with some local psychobilly bands, and are pretty standard Rockabilly music. They got the hair, the instruments and the music all going for them. You can move to the music if that's your thing, but again, pretty standard. Devil Doll is in that genre of Rockabilly bands that have a 'cute' chick singing and trying to be sexy to distract from the mediocre music. They ended with a cover of Radar Love that attempted to pull the crowd in, but made me keep eyeing the door for a possible escape route. I will admit though that I went to the show incredibly sick and started off in a crappy mood, so...

How often do the Los Straitjackets tour? I was pretty sure I had lost my chance forever to see them, but they just released a new album "Rock En Espanol" which has Big Sandy, Cesar Rosas, and Little Willie G performing with the masked foursome, so, YAY! I got a chance to see them.

The 4 themselves are an instrumental band and they opened their show that way, all in black suites, matching glittery gold guitars, and donning their Mexican wrestling masks. Part of their appeal, to me at least, is the kitsch gimmick they have going for them, it's entertaining. Every song they play has its own choreographed dance numbers; nothing elaborate, but they do thrust their guitars up at the same time and twist around and stuff. And if you're into surfer type guitars and beats, then you can't go wrong here. Even for being in a genre where the music tends to blend into other artists, there is some discernible characteristic that even without vocals you can pick up on.

However, their new album has vocals, so, tonight there were a few vocal sets. Big Sandy was the first. God, he is such a cheeseball. Prior to the set, his was standing behind me on the floor and being mauled by young Rockabilly chicks who wanted to get their picture taken with him. There is something reminiscent of a car salesman about him. Anyways, his set started off alright until he seemed to be either forgetting the lyrics or having a heart attack. I couldn't take my eyes off him because I was sure he might fall off the stage clutching his chest. Then he sang the Sonics 'Have Love Will Travel' half in Spanish and half in English, oof- I actually cringed. Luckily there was a brief period of going back to instrumentals before Cesar Rosas went on.

I think tonight I learned that I shouldn't go to shows while sick and heavily dosed on decongestant meds, it makes me irritable and easily dismissive of acts. Regardless, seeing Los Straitjackets live is a grinningly good time and is making me reconsider wearing a mask when I drum, maybe a giant gorilla head. I dunno.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lightning Bolt: The Show That Wasn't- Wednesday April 11, 2007

It's so rare that LA has a band from my hometown playing here, or rather, it's rare that there's a band from my hometown that I care about who is playing here. Last night in Los Angeles, Lightning Bolt- hailing from Providence, RI played a secret show,unfortunately it was so secret that it turned out NOT to be at Pehrspace, or the Smell, but rather a warehouse on Alameda and 6th which I cannot place.

Boo. Last night ended up turning into reminscing adolescence as five of us parked it on a couch outside Pehrspace drinking warm PBRs and listening to the shows going on inside- hoping upon hope that Lightning Bolt would show up and play next (well, I think me and one other guy were hoping to catch them as I believe we may have dragged people along just to force them to watch). The suck part being that NO ONE could confirm or deny said show... people were taking the "secret" part a bit too seriously.

HOWEVER- it was finally leaked out that tonight, the 12th, they are playing the Smell. Unless someone was trying to be deceptive, again, to which I will be very, very pissy about if I show up downtown and wait and get yelled at by a homeless guy who wants my shoes or wants me to pay him because he made sure no one stole my tires. Fingers....are...crossed.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

GREAT Bodies of Water (like great balls of fire...nevermind...) @ Pehrspace March 30, 2007

Bodies of Water, again? Yes. By way of logic, BoW are from Los Angeles, they play here... a lot and they are friends of friends of mine, so I have a tendency to catch them on a monthly basis, oh- and they are fun to watch and you can clap your hands with the music and not feel like a dork, promise.

The other reason for this post is to talk about the space they performed at, Pehrspace. I was told by one of the incredibly nice volunteers (whom I'm pretty sure was Alice from Eagle and Talon) there that the place is an art gallery, a performance space, cheap, and that they run a record label out of there as well, very multifaceted type of thing, the kind of space I wish I could make therefore I'm jealous as hell of it. It's reminiscent of the Smell with it's all ages access but it has plenty of parking and the neighborhood is not so scary (the location, albeit hard to find, is in a strip mall just south of Echo Park hidden by a palm tree and its neighbor is a strip mall "church" which I find amusing because at 10pm that night I could have gotten my feet joke).

Space inside, once everyone starts to show up, is a bit cramped, and it got HOT in there. God knows what existed in that space before hand, the white paneled drop ceiling with fluorescent lights are still present, but thankfully they don't turn them on and instead opt to use colored accent lights sporadically placed and even use tea lights (possibly a fire hazard, but pretty nonetheless). Walls were covered with art from whatever show was going on at the time, so your eyes never got bored if they happened to drift off while sitting in what seems to be plastic bus station seats. I rarely use the term "cozy" to describe music venues but in this case it fits nicely.

Bodies of Water did a short set, they were a 5 piece this time (last time I saw them there were 8, although the core of the musicians are 4) with their second percussionist. They played These Are the Eyes, We Are Coexistors, Friends, Doves Circle the Sky....and maybe another one, but I forget. I have yet to be disappointed at one of their shows, and tonight they were brimming full of energy as always. Whoever said gospel rock should stay in churches deep, deep in the south is wrong, dead wrong. (Oh, and BoW were not the only bands playing, Eagle and Talon played as well as Bark Bark Bark, however my ride home was tired so we didn't stay. Hoping to catch Eagle and Talon at some point.)