The Echoplex, Los Angeles, California
April 9, 2017
Post-gig exhaustion sets in the day after, a hangover of the Sonic kind that despite its heavy nature, is ever the price worth paying to see Live Music. There is something about the Experience, the Energy, and the shared space that makes Live Music so incredible to me. When the Music is beyond Good, and I’ve been in that shared Musical space, that venue, be it big or small, explosions go off inside me, triggering a Manic state of bliss and hyper-energetic “something” addeds to the Mix that is a part the Music Obsessive Freak that I am.
I had one of those experiences this past Sunday night, and now that the post-gig tired is shed, let me tell you about it.
It was a Sunday night, cool Los Angeles weather pervading, while we made our way via a bit of a walk-and-wander to get to the show. Anticipatory excitement was alive in the air as we made our way past the gates, down the alley and inside. This was the first time I’d been to the Echoplex, and I was immediately taken in by the layout and feeling of the place. It was reminiscent of clubs I used to frequent in the late 80’s: the shape of the room, the nearly pitch dark lighting, the spaces between the bar, the floor and the stage. I felt completely a part of it, as if I had actually been there before.
One of the opening bands was playing their way to the end of their set as we grabbed drinks and searched out an ideal spot to stand. That Perfect spot was set a bit away from the stage, but not too far, with a small, bar table to set our things on, freeing our bodies to move to the music, if the music moved us to. Between sets, as the stage was being cleared, the DJ played a mix of mostly 90’s alternative music, Folk Implosion’s “Natural Blues” a standout Song, one that’s not too often heard in a club these days.
Andrew Fearn made is way out to the stage then, briefly appearing, drink in hand, engaging with some of the front standing audience. You could feel the electricity start to spark when he came out, though it did not fully set off when the DJ continued to spin his between-sets mix. Soon he disappeared backstage, waving a teasing wave at the crowd.
Yes, we were all ready.
I thought then about the Tracks I’d heard from the Sleaford Mods, both from their new Album, English Tapas, and from the duos earlier releases. I’d checked out a few live recordings beforehand, as well, noting immediately the energy emitted from them, that certain something that had me itching to see them live.
But, that something I’d noticed in the handful of YouTube videos I’d watched was nothing but a tease to what we were all about to experience. It definitely didn’t tell the whole story.
I’ll preface this by saying that “back-in-the-day” I was too young to experience a live punk show at the height of the scene,in the late 70’s/early 80’s, and when I was old enough to make my way to a myriad of live gigs I was tightly embedded in my New Wave obsessions. I’d never been a part of that kind of fueled musical power that I’d heard from friends who’d been at punk shows; that mixture of anger and passion and turned on its head pop-sensibility that busted at the seams, only to be held together by a beat that gets the crowd bouncing and bashing about.
Sunday I felt like I’d experienced a taste of that – a big, heaping taste.
Vocalist and spoken word/rap afficiando, Jason Williamson, was overflowing with kinetic energy. It leapt off of him, like lightning and thunder together, punching the air and all of us in the crowd hard. Yet, despite that explosiveness coming off of him, he possessed a control that kept every word and rhythm in synch, making his verbal expressions spit out like a venomous poetry, both eloquent and violent, all at once.
Some of the highlights of the night were their newest Single “Mop Top”, fan favorite “Jobseeker” and the first Track I ever heard of theirs, “B.H.S.” (see video below). “Tweet Tweet Tweet” and “TCR” were also incredible, as was “Jolly Fucker”.
Sonically, I was reminded at times of Joy Division. At other moments it was Johnny Rotten and Henry Rollins that came to mind. But, all of those comparisons aside, there was something more there, something unique and addictive.
Jason Williamson seemed to be emit words from deep inside his body, each syllable and sound just seemed to push out of him – hard – his body bcoming spasmatic at times, hand flailing back and forth, and body shaking as the beat persisted. His magnetism poured out of him and onto all of us. We could feel it in the audience, and we were moving along with it. It was impossible not to.
Andrew Fearn spent the majority of the set throwing back drinks and standing relatively still. He was most often set in one spot, solid, barely moving, in total juxtaposition to Jason’s constant movement. It created an odd balance on stage, and made me wonder if that dynamic was part of the creative force that exists between them.
Whatever it is, it worked its magic on all of us Sunday night. I know I couldn’t stop moving, the beats creatied felt like they were becoming part of my own pulse rate. Every word Jason power-spoke to us, often political, often full of societal commentary and disdain, may have been more from their home country, then ours – but it still moved us. You could feel it everywhere in that room. The power – the crazy power compressed into each beat and word – is still with me, making me want to do it all over again.
The show at the Echoplex was the duo’s first in Los Angeles. Towards the end, before their encore, Jason asked us to not forget to ask them back. From the sold-out crowd’s energy that continued out into the street as we all disembarked the Echoplex, makes me think that Sleaford Mods have a standing invitation to return, whenever they want to use it – which I hope is soon.
Below catch a glimpse of what the show was like. I urge you though to find out for yourself, if you get the chance. This duo needs to be experienced live.
“B.H.S.” and Intro (live)
Thank you to Rich Sihilling for the majority of the photos used, as well as the video above.