The Woolly Bandits Live at Alex’s Bar
October 1, 2017
Sometimes it takes a good night’s sleep to recover from a night of live music, sometimes a next day sonic detox, and then every so often good you need a few days to restart the system and shake off the raucous, ringing feedback that lingers from one hell of a show. The aftermath of The Woolly Bandits at Alex’s Bar was definitely in the latter category. Three days later and I’m still recovering – in a good way.
Part cult movie, part 60’s garage redux, part PUNK ROCK, and part something that is unnameable, but you know it, and you feel it when you are there in the midst of live music magic. This was my first time seeing The Woolly Bandits, and my first time at Alex’s Bar, in Long Beach. I couldn’t have picked a better venue for this first time. The red David Lynch curtains draped behind the stage, the ghoulish, horror-porn decor on the walls and above-the-bar TV screen, and that sticky scent of sweat, shots and guitar strings set the perfect scene for seeing this band live.
The band took to the stage with “Woman of Mass Destruction” and the temperature immediately rose around the room as eyes and ears and bodies gravitated towards them. All attention was on The Woolly Bandits, and it didn’t take more than an eye-blink to see why.
Singer Christa Collins has a magnetic energy that you can see vibrating off of everything she touches, be it the whip-tasseled mic, her bandmates’ instruments, of the edge of the bar as she pounced on it to create a second-stage mid-way through their set. She is unequal parts Tura Santana “Faster Pussycat Kill Kill”, Throwback Bettie Page, and a hybrid Siouxsie Sioux meets Lene Lovich meets Horrorpops – but there is more than that there. She has a killer voice that weaves itself in and out, and then over the top of a well-versed 60’s garage/late 70’s punk-infused band.
The band itself – propelled into action by Rik Collins on bass, Mark Bellgraph on lead guitar, Mark Benquechea on drums, and Tom Dolan on keyboards – are all part and parcel of what makes The Woolly Bandits a kind of magic with a blade’s edge to experience. Together they are “out of the (genre) box”. As soon as you make a comparison, another rises to the top, and another, and then another, and yet you find yourself still grasping for one more descriptive. And that right there is what makes a band something un-categorically special.
The Woolly Bandits are without a doubt a see-them-live band. At least the first time. That energy that ricocheted off the walls, the floor, and each dancing and sing-screaming-a-long fan is something you need to have for yourself. You will be swept up in the sound and the vision of the performance, an all-sensory delight that transcends the music alone, becoming a capturing lightning in a bottle, cinematic and sonic experience.
You may even wind up on stage yourself.
Pete Yorn :: The Constellation Room :: May 9, 2017 :: Live Music Review
The first show of a tour gifts the audience, and I would imagine, the performer, a certain kind of magic. There is a rawness that may not happen again, there is a bit of experimentation, perhaps a dose of nervousness, and a palpable amount of excitement. To me, it appears to have a little bit of that going back to school energy that we all once went through every August, or September. Everything could be different this time. Anything could happen. And, after this, it may never be the same. Or it could be the same, or similar, but it will never be the “first” until the next time around.
Pete Yorn is a favorite at lyriquediscorde. We have reviewed his albums, published lists of favorites, shared videos, included music in many playlists, and reviewed quite a few Live Shows. For me, this was my second time experiencing a “You and Me” tour. The last time around I went to three of the shows, the first one, back then, also at the Constellation Room. That night was another first for me, as well. It was the first time I’d ever seen Pete Yorn play live.
This time around it was far from being my first time. I invited my boyfriend to come along (this would be his first time seeing Pete), and we met up with fellow Pete Yorn fans that I met at previous live shows. One of the cool things about being a fan of an artist or band, and seeing them play often, and at any chance you get, you develop friendships in the audience along the way. It’s a family, of sorts. A camaraderie of shared love and experiences, and, to me, it makes it all that more special.
We went in for the VIP2 Experience, stepping into the Constellation Room during the end of Pete’s Soundcheck. He greeted us warmly and surprised us with a very rare track, one that I am not sure is available anywhere, that he wrote in his younger years. The song was called “James in Liverpool”, and it had both a 90’s Jangly Pop feel to it, as well as an early 90’s Britpop sensibility. I asked him if the song was in reference to the band James, and in seeing them play live in Liverpool. He answered with a yes, and no, response, hinting that there was more to the story.
As a writer, I love that response. I know in all my stories, short or long, and even in my poetry, there is the recognizable plot, and the undercurrent of detail, character, conflict, resolution, and/or sensory description that represents something more. I like the idea that songs, like stories, have many layers and levels to them, and can mean so many things to both the artist, and the audience.
After chatting with us, and taking a few photos, we said our mutual see you later’s and Pete went off backstage. Drinks and conversation were had, the buzz in the room growing as more people joined us, and anticipation wafted all around us in the air. And then the lights came down, and the stage lights came up, and Pete returned to the stage, sitting down on a stool and grabbing his guitar. He greeted the room with warmth and genunity that is part of his appeal to most, if not all, of his fans. He is as gracious and kind as he is talented.
And then the show began.
“I made up that story,
to change your mind.
I could have been somebody else,
but now I’m me,
Fittingly, Pete started the show with “Intro”, the first track, and yes, intro, to the album Day I Forgot. On the album “Intro” leads right into “Come Back Home”, which is how this live set progressed, as well. “Come Back Home” has always been a favorite song of mine, and for me, on a personal level, it felt that way as I stood in a venue in the city I grew up in.
From there we had a cover song duo, of sorts. Pete sang the intro to Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”, and then went into Warren Zevon’s “Splendid Isolation”. This was part of a yelled out request from the audience, something that would go on for the majority of the night. It is all part and parcel to the You and Me shows – no set-list requests, audience participation, one might say. Every show could be completely different, even moreso than the normal energy and venue differences. With this series the setlist could be different every single night of the tour.
Kind of makes you want to go and see all of them, doesn’t it?
One of my Favorite Songs of the Night was the stripped down version of “Lost Weekend”. The new arrangement gave the song an intimate and immediate feel, gifting it a new/next layer of emotional complexity that I hadn’t heard in the Album cut, or previous “full band” live versions of the song.
I also enjoyed hearing a few, all-time favorites of mine: “Halifax”, “Social Development Dance”, and “June”.
The crowd kept asking for some of Pete’s big Hits, and were ecstatic when he obliged, singing-a-long at the top of their lungs to each lyric of “Life on a Chain”, “Murray”, and “Strange Condition”. It is such a moving experience to be in a crowd that suddenly starts singing-a-long completely, in sync with each other, and the artist on stage. It is chill inducing and one of those definitive moments that make Live Music so vital, and important.
I can only imagine how incredible it feels for the actual artist on-stage.
Pete left the stage briefly, returning rather quickly for a three-song encore. Two of the Songs were standard favorites, especially the last track, “For Nancy (‘Cos It Already Is”. But, the crowd was also given a rare rendition of “Man in Uniform”, dedicated to “Jersey” Jim Wright, whose birthday was the following day.
All in all, it was a fantastic night of acoustic Pete Yorn. I enthusiastically recommend checking out one of his “You and Me” tour dates if you have the chance, it is an opportunity to see Pete in a very intimate way, where each and every person in the crowd becomes a palpable part of the show itself. It really is almost like having him play in your living room.
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.
Now Hear This :: Brian Matthew :: Now Is Good
Discovering music is a favorite pastime of mine, one that has taken a bit of a pause of late due to the push and pull of the holiday season, as well as some personal shifts and changes that had me burning the proverbial candle at both ends. But, as the year winds down, and the air clears, I find myself diving back into my quest for new sounds and wanting to share the gems I pick up along the way. So, settle down somewhere comfortable and prick up your ears, because some new, and some new-to-me music, will be coming this way over the next week, and well into the new year, when this space will be buzzing and spinning on the regular again.
As the sun is setting just outside my favorite window, the air warmer than its been lately, but still with a wisp of Southern California December slight chill, I find myself listening repeatedly to track 4 and 5 of a new CD that fell into my hands this week. I keep trying to weigh in on which of the two songs are my favorite, but honestly I just can’t say. They seem to flow into each other perfectly, swirling about in my ears while I watch the world outside turn on, the moon taking over and saying “goodnight” to the sun.
“Trailer Man” feels like a ride through the desert, the long stretches ahead and behind, the unknown just off the next exit, my gypsy soul turning the volume up while getting lost in that very best way. There is something late seventies in the vibe that permeates from this track, something reminiscent of the songs from the Laurel Canyon era, a little Crosby and Nash, a little Morrison and Manzarek, and a little Taylor and Mitchell. There is definitely a bit of Steely Dan in here, too (like I said, late seventies), and peel back the surface a little further, too, and there is definitely a Grateful Dead sensibility going on here which flows beautifully into that next track I find myself so fond of.
Passion & Chemistry
“Passion & Chemistry” take a slight turn from that desert road, upping the tempo just a bit, and pulling the sun out from behind the clouds. There is a sense of the ocean here, of movement and color. That Dead sensibility I mentioned before takes a harder hold of the reigns with this track, so much so that if you close your eyes you can almost see the crowds gathering, hands reaching out to smoke and sing and dance. This one almost requires getting up and taking the car out for a drive, turning the wheel to face the sun’s descent, hopefully somewhere over the ocean. Perhaps a drive to Venice Beach is in order with this one blasting out the open window.
Track 10, “Groovin’ On” is a close second (or is it third?) favorite on this album. Definitely the “jamiest” on the album, I’m tempted to play this one right after track 5, as it feels almost organic to come after “Passion & Chemistry”. Although this is a Winter discovery for me, I can’t help but think the entire album is ready made for a late Summer getaway. I may just have to have this on hand, and plan a slightly out of season road trip somewhere.
The album, “Now is Good” is available at iTunes here. Brian is a local Los Angeles singer-songwriter who also plays with the local band Harmonious Fits. You can catch up with where to see them, and listen to some other music on Facebook here.
If you are in the Los Angeles area you should start off your new year with some live music and check out the next Harmonious Fits show in Santa Monica, on January 2nd, at TR!P.
Grow With Me :: Harmonious Fits
Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles, California
July 27, 2016
My feet are bruised, blistered and sore. My voice is gone, its nothing but gravelly and war-torn. My ears are ringing – still. My body is riding high on post-show adrenaline, while I try not to over-caffienate to over-compensate for only an hour’s sleep. But, all of it, every bit, was worth it. The Augustine’s Los Angeles show last night, in support of their new album “This Is Your Life”, was one of those live music experiences that will live on, and on, and reside among my list of best gigs ever.
Let’s start with the venue. The Bootleg Theater was a new one for me. I was both a Bootleg virgin, and an Augustines’ virgin (yes, lads, last night was my first time).
“The bar stage” was where the band was playing. It was on the small side of the theater, dark with high ceilings and a slightly elevated, barrier free stage. The bar looked more like the cafe counters at roller rinks from when I was a kid, and the sign that hung above, stating “Cocktails” was flipped upside down – something the singer of Augustines, Billy McCarthy, spoke on mid-show. It fit, that topsy-turvy view, right along with the odd art pieces and disco ball spinning its glittery lights on the stage.
The adjacent part of the building is set-up for dramatic performances, and is significantly larger than “the bar stage” room. In-between “the bar stage” and the bigger theater was an entry way that led to a patio – a patio which housed a retro and working photo booth.
Yes, my friends and I took advantage of it, being blinded by the too quick bright flash, and striking our very best pre-selfie poses. Then we found our spot to stand. My favorite area, side of the stage/stage right. We stood right near where the Augustines’ roadie would end up, and where some damn beautiful guitars were there hanging out, and waiting.
It would also be the side that Billy would take to, playing most of the set (when he wasn’t dancing around, bouncing around, or throwing himself to the ground) stage right.
The crowd started to make their way into the room, heating the place up rather quickly. I would say the heat was my only real complaint of the night, but that is often the case with indoor venues during the summertime months, in Los Angeles, so that was to be expected.
I had no prior listening experience with the opening act, Cobi, so I had no idea what we were in for. Cobi (Jacob Schmidt) took to the stage, with just a guitar.
At first glance, I was reminded of a younger Pete Yorn (probably due to the hair), but when he started singing – acoustically – it was Jeff Buckley that I was immediately reminded of. His voice was powerful, and at one point, when he began to wail, I got the flush of musically induced, all-over body chills. It was gorgeous.
When the rest of his band joined in, the music shifted into something fused between funk and classic rock n’ roll. His guitar playing was as impressive as his voice, though only the first song really stood out to me. Not that I didn’t enjoy the rest – I did – but that first number had blown me away so much that I never really fully recovered.
Cobi seemed to have a lot of fans in attendance, many singing-a-long to every song played. I was lost more in the guitar work, and hoping to hear him take me again to the emotional place the first song did. It never happened, but I am still seeking out more of his music, and would like to see him play live again – perhaps a longer set.
In-between the opener and headliner sets, a good portion of the crowd made their way out to the patio. The room had doubled in both occupancy and heat. We were all glowing with sweat and clamoring for some kind of breeze. We were also all buzzing in that way that happens pre-show, that anticipatory collective pulse that beats, somewhat erratically, within our chests while we both want the show to start, yet don’t want it to be over yet either.
In that waiting period, beers were tossed back, conversations went on between us and fellow fans, as well as a bit of chatting with the Augustines’ roadie about guitars and set-up and being a part of the show.
Then it was time.
IT WAS TIME.
Billy McCarthy came up on stage first, all big dimpled-smile, raucous laughter and a jovial/joker kind of persona that immediately drew us in. He had his signature fedora on, but tossed it off towards an amp, smiling even wider, then made his way over to the mic. He had this distinctive gait about him that seemed both light and lumbering, clumsy and precise, as his entire being lit up, seeming to be made of a manic energy. The rest of the band followed on-stage, and all together they set the place on fire.
We were all theirs from the start – unwaveringly so – from the first song, to the second encore – and we gave the band all of our sweaty, ready and willing, make us dance and sing and scream and laugh and cry and feel best. We loved them together, and felt loved right back.
It was this incredible experience of electricity and music that connected the room together. I haven’t experienced something that powerful in a long while.
I looked around the crowd many times during the show and never saw a bored, or unmoved experession. Never spotted faces glued to their “black mirrors”. On the contrary, everyone’s phones seemed only to be touched to hold up high and capture a piece of the music, and magic, happening onstage – whether in photographs, or videos. And no one was standing still.
Billy was beyond personable, beyond giving and generous, and fucking talented beyond my expectations. It was refreshing to see an artist – and an entire band – who looked happy being up there, who looked like they actually loved what they do.
And we were there, loving it, too.
All of us.
Billy’s hat returned eventually, and then was thrown off again. Billy threw his entire body to the ground – more than once, guitar in hand, fingers in place, singing and playing and rolling around. He kicked over an amp once, leapt up on the drum set twice to bounce off, and sang his fucking heart out.
I mean it, his heart was there, dangling on his sleeves, and from the arms of his guitars, bleeding and beating and making us all feel so fucking much.
Eric and Rob were amazing, too. Adding energy and humor and magic to the music. But, honestly, it was Billy who kept connecting us all to each other, to the music, and at times, to our own human experience. He said we were all at a picnic (oh, and no one gets laid at picnics, FYI), as we were sweaty and without food, but here drinking and singing together.
And he made me believe, at least for a night, that everything was going to be okay.
They played my two absolutely favorite Augustines’ songs – “The Chapel Song” (early in the set) and “Landmine” (during the first encore – this one made me cry). They played songs that have now become some of my favorites – especially live – “Weary Eyes” and “When Things Fall Apart”. I fell more in love with “Are We Alive”, “This Is Your Life”, “Nothing to Lose But Your Head” and “Walkabout”. And I loved Billy’s renditon of “Waltzing Matilda”
At the end of it all, Billy came to the front of the stage, all by himself.
No backup music.
And he sang his heart out to a stripped down, acapella version of “Running in Place”, which was one of the most moving, emotional, amazing things I have heard in a long time.
It left us all awestruck, and then had us all cheering together.
It was the wee hours of the night-turns-to-morning-time when the band came out to take a final bow together. I was drenched, sore everywhere, feet aching from dancing, ears ringing, and had the tick-tock reminder that I had to work the next day, and I didn’t care.
If Billy had asked us again if we were up for one more I would screamed YES.
I think we all would have.
Thank you, Augustines, for bringing music and magic and emotion and laughter and tears and soul and wonder to Los Angeles for a late July, hot, sticky night. I won’t forget it for a long, long time and I hope you all make it out this way again – sooner, rather than later.
We miss you here already.
My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 10/19/15
1. Fading Frontier :: Deerhunter
Three-Sentence Review: I very recently (one week ago recently) discovered Deerhunter and have fallen hard for their sound, so it made me rather ecstatic to see they have a new album this week. Lyrically, the album has been impacted by Bradford Cox serious car accident last year, and the effect it had on him as a person, and as a songwriter – and I can feel it, the emotions, the melodic optimism, the perspective that surviving can often gift. There is a soothing element to this album that I am appreciating, there is something here in the sounds, too, that fits so well with the just arriving Autumn weather, especially when listening in the early morning when it actually is a big cool in Los Angeles.
Initial Favorite Track(s): Living My Life, Duplex Planet and Ad Astra
Rating (1-5 Stars): 5+
Living My Life
2. Some Thick Illusion :: Pop Cautious
Three-Sentence Review: Gorgeous, lush and lovely, the new single from Pop Cautious is one of those songs I just can’t get enough of. Vocally and lyrically, there is so much beauty and bittersweet emotion that seeps beneath the skin and swirls around effortlessly, and the orchestration is dreamy and ethereal and wonderful to the senses. The song features Adrián Terrazas-González, previously of The Mars Volta, and features Caleb Polashek of the Austin Symphony Orchestra – I cannot wait to hear a full album.
Initial Favorite Track(s): N/A (single)
Rating (1-5 Stars): 5
Some Thick Illusion
3. Angels & Ghosts :: Dave Gahan & Soulsavers
Three-Sentence Review: Complex, melodic, dark, danceable, soulful and even a bit blues-ey, the new Dave Gahan (& Soulsavers) album is not just a Depeche Mode revival/rehash, no, there is actually very few connections except for the recognizable sound of Gahan’s voice (though I prefer the age in it now, the depth and emotion). This album surprised me in the best way. I hope he/they tour soon as I feel like these songs will be incredible played live.
Initial Favorite Track(s): Shine, All Of This & Nothing and Lately
Rating (1-5 Stars): 5
All of This & Nothing
4. Sprained Ankle :: Julien Baker
Three-Sentence Review: Older sounding, or maybe just “wiser”, than nineteen years would expect, Julien Baker’s album is a remarkable, raw, and yet delicate, full of beautiful indie-folk tunes that immediately drew me in. A bit reminiscent of The Head and the Heart, Birdy and Dove & The Wolf, I just love how stripped down these songs are.
Initial Favorite Track(s): Blacktop, Everybody Does & Something
Rating (1-5 Stars): 4+
5. Liberman :: Vanessa Carlton
Three-Sentence Review: Its been awhile since I heard Vanessa Carlton’s name, or heard her voice, so when I saw she had a new album this week my curiosity was peaked, and I wanted to hear if time and life had changed her at all (as it does to most of us). Her voice is still full of heart and melodic clarity, her songwriting still strong, the piano is still a character in the song-stories, but there is a complexity and facets to these songs that suggests time and life and changes. While not as catchy or accessible as her earlier “hits”, this is definitely worth a listen (or a few).
Initial Favorite Track(s): Willows, Nothing Where Something Used to Be and Unlock the Lock
Rating (1-5 Stars): 4
Though the El Rey is not my favorite spot in Los Angeles to see a show, Honeyhoney is a favorite, and well worth my lack of fondness for the venue to see them play live. My first encounter with Honeyhoney had been a live show, when they opened for a lyriquediscorde favorite, Ryan Bingham. They were one of those opening acts that blew my musical soul, and had me racing out to make their music my own the day after the show. I was excited to find out they had a new album out this month, and even more thrilled to see they were playing a gig, and that they were the headliners this time around. On arrival at the El Rey I found myself wondering what their live set would be like, and what their opening acts would be like. Was I about to discover my next favorite bands/artists?
First up was Wheeler Walker, Jr. Unassuming, decked out in the trappings of an old-timey country singer, with an acoustic draped around his shoulders, and an unmistakable twang, it wasn’t until the lyrics hit that I realized this was not at all what it seemed. The saying don’t judge a book by its cover came to mind as Wheeler sang about graphic sex acts he wished to have with his girlfriend’s entire family (Grandma included). Honeyhoney came out and joined Wheeler, donning wigs and beards as disguises, and backed him up, joining in a song all about fellatio and cunnilingas. This felt like a comedy/parody act, and though it was amusing, it wasn’t quite the opener I expected. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not an opener I’d be running out to hear more of, though it certainly acted as a crowd ice-breaker.
Next up was even more of a surprise. Feeling like I was in the midst of a major early eighties flashback, or some kind of sonic time travel, Zero Dezire took us back to the age of New Wave and early Punk, and then some.
Self-described as “vagcore“, Zero Dezire features members of The Belle Brigade, Bird And The Bee, and Touche. They came on-stage costumed up in what seemed like a melding of The Plasmatics, Adam Ant, Devo and Le Tigre. The lead singer was topless sans some well-placed silvery duct tape, and a pink Anime styled wig. The co-singer/keyboardist went from a overwhelming, tangled wig to a fur, band-geek type hat, and had a slash of black make-up across her eyes. The band sang songs about fat ballerinas, one-night stands, birthday celebrations, and a long list of alcohol drinks (in a song titled Alcohol), and had the audience in a mixture of awe and confusion.
It’s My Birthday :: Zero Dezire
(you may have heard them on HBO’s Girls)
More confusing an opener than Wheeler, I will say that I enjoyed Zero Dezire immensely, and would have raced home to look them up to hear more of their music, but I didn’t have to – the band gave me a homemade burned CD titled with a sharpie, and tucked into a ziploc baggie (yes, I’m serious).
Once the laughs and wonder of the opening acts were over, though, the reason we all were there took to the stage, blowing me away from the first chords of the starting song, Ohio. Lead singer, Suzanne Santo’s voice is so breathtakingly good it can be hard to notice anything else about the band, though guitarist, and co-singer, Benjamin Jaffe certainly holds his own and garners attention, as well, making this duo a force to be reckoned with.
The band graced us with new songs from their recently released album 3 (a 2015 favorite of mine for damn sure), older hits such as crowd-favorite Angel of Death, and my favorite, Thin Line, and phenomenal covers of Etta James (oh my stars, At Last had me in tears!) and Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang used as intro to another crowd favorite, Little Toy Gun. The duo’s on-stage chemistry is a thing to behold, and Suzanne’s ever-exchanging musical instruments, switching between acoustic to electric guitar, banjo, violin, was remarkable, to say the least.
Honeyhoney is an electrifying band to experience, at one moment tender and raw, especially with songs like Yours to Bear, You and I and Don’t Know How (the latter that also had me in tears), at the next, full of rock and roll and blues-shaking goodness, with songs like LA River (fitting for the venue/show), Big Man and Little Toy Gun. Though both Suzanne and Ben remarked on the night’s crowd being the biggest they’d ever played to, they sure didn’t seem like it as they commanded the stage and had the audience completely engaged and responding back with screaming, yelling, dancing, and lots of singing-a-long (even Suzanne’s Mom, who had flown out for the show, could be seen doing all of the above).
I urge you to check-out Honeyhoney if they come to your area. They will light you up, move you, rock you, soothe you and leave you feeling like you’ve had one of those never will ever forget live music experiences. They are still on-tour so take a look here and see if there’s a gig you can make – you’ll come back and thank me, I’m sure of it.
Thin Line clip (no, I’m not much of a filmmaker/videographer)
At Last clip
The Dove And The Wolf :: The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
June 17 & 19, 2015 :: Hollywood, California
The Dove And The Wolf :: The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
June 17, 2015
Sometimes an opening band comes along and sweeps me off my feet, surprising and delighting me, and turning me into a near instant fan. This is not a common occurrence, and seems to take place the most when the headliner actually has a say in the openers, and not just a record label dictating who will open a show. Anyhow, when it happens, it is magical, and one of those moments when you unintentionally meet-up with your next favorite artist, band, or in this case, duo. Paloma and Lou are The Dove And The Wolf, and they were have been touring with Butch Walker for the last two months. It was at the last two shows of the tour, both nights at my favorite Los Angeles venue (The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery), that I found myself falling hard for their gorgeous melodies and poetic lyrics. It was at those two shows that I became a fan of The Dove And The Wolf – and you should, too.
The Dove And The Wolf :: The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
June 19, 2015
Born and raised in France, one in Paris, and one on the French Caribbean Island of Martinique, Paloma and Lou started making music in 2004, and recorded their first EP in 2012. A debut album is said to be in the works, and let me tell you, I will be first in line to make it mine on the day of its release. I was lucky enough to purchase a lilac-colored vinyl at the show, as well as picking up a few more for my best friend, and my daughter.
Sonically speaking, The Dove And The Wolf call to mind Nico and Lou (The Velvet Underground), Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), Beth Hirsch (especially her work with Air on the album, Moon Safari), duo Azure Ray, and the soundtracked trio, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch. All that said, this duo transcends all those musical comparisons, becoming something beautifully hypnotic and utterly magical. I do wish I could have recorded every song sung live during those two nights, even their cover of My Way, but alas, for now, I have the single above, and what is available to stream on Spotify, at least for now.
I Want You To Know (live)
Some of my favorites of the nights were I Want You To Know, Insane, In Love and He’s Going East. Though honestly, I loved every single song they sang, as well as the back-up support, and harmonizing they did with Butch Walker later in the night (especially their cover version of The Rose, sung with Butch).
The Rose (with Butch Walker)
Besides being insanely talented, Paloma and Lou are witty and quite lovely, and kindly graced me with this photograph, showing off some stellar rock tee shirts given to them by Butch Walker. I encourage you all to check-out their music and fall hard for their sounds and songs like I have. You can start here on their website, or their blog via tumblr, or here on Spotify. If you love it like I do, and I’m betting you will, head on over to iTunes and buy their EP.
The Words You Said
Hellhounds of London and Will Rothhaar :: The Hotel Cafe
June 13, 2015 :: Los Angeles, California
From the first time I saw London Shover perform, opening for Tony Lucca back in 2012, I have been a fan. Those who have been around lyriquediscorde.com probably already know this as I’ve written about his music for years now, and featured past live reviews, a review of his album, and London also participated in the Keep Art Alive :: 10 Questions feature (see here). London is one of the most talented musicians I’ve met in a long, long time (and I listen to a ton of music). He is incredibly talented, and with he addition of his new band, The Hellhounds of London, his talent has evolved exponentially, and is not only a band to watch, but one you should be listening to RIGHT NOW.
I had the chance to catch London and his new band, along with longtime collaborator Will Rothhaar, at the Hotel Cafe this past Saturday night. They blew me away! The addition of the obviously seasoned and skilled band to London’s vocals, and song catalog, took his music to a new level. There was a blues/rock/New Orleans-ish/edginess to the music that elevated London’s voice, and the inclusion of the full band seemed to add a dynamic to London’s songs and singing that I’d never heard before; sometimes it was an undertone of a rasp/growl I heard, sometimes it was a boost of emotion that seemed to ricochet off the mic and into the audience, and other times it was just this perfect collision of sound that lit up the room, and our ears. I only wish they’d been able to play a longer set.
An added treat was hearing London and Will perform a favorite of mine, Building a Bridge, the first song of theirs that I fell hard for.
Watch this space for upcoming news on Hellhounds of London, and if you get the chance, check out a show.
I have learned a few integral things during this “year of music” (my own declaration of this new year in my life since my birthday in late March). One is that albums should be listened in their entirety, over and over, until you know the songs backwards and forwards, enough to sing-a-long to them, have interchanging favorites, and memories that imprint on them. This is how I used to consume music, back when going to the record store was my true love and obsession, and I would come home with a stack of vinyl that I would unwrap and unravel, lying on the floor reading lyrics and liner notes, as the album spun on my stereo (giant speakers included). Sure, I fell hard for mix tapes, which evolved into mix CD’s, and later became endless playlists, but those relationships I forged with albums as a whole, well I missed that, and have reunited with it recently. Part of this has come from my newly acquired addiction to buying vinyl (again), part of it due to my weekly new album release posts, but mostly, it is borne from me missing experiencing music this way.
The other lesson I’ve learned this “year of music” is that there is nothing – absolutely nothing – like live music. Being in the crowd at a concert is better than sex, better than kissing, better than coffee, better than double-features, better than road trips, better than letters in the mail, jukeboxes and used bookstores, and even the ocean. Yes, yes, I know I just listed so many things I LOVE, but none of them can hold a candle to seeing a live show. It is the place I can lose myself in, a state of mind and body and soul that only music can unleash, and it is truly the source of my bliss. When I decided to take on a Summer of live music I didn’t take it lightly, and I can ecstatically report that so far, since the start of this “year of music“, I’ve yet to be let down by a show. Honestly, they just keep getting better than better.
Last night I had the privilege of seeing one of my favorite bands play live at one of my top venues of choice in Southern California: Neon Trees at The Fonda Theatre. I discovered Neon Trees when they opened for Thirty Seconds to Mars, and have loved them ever since (see my favorite artists/bands feature on Neon Trees here). Their music has accompanied daily commutes, dancing with reckless abandon moments around the house, moments of realization that I’d fallen in love (and fallen out of love), and have played muse to a story I’ve been writing (especially the Pop Psychology album). The entire band is incredible, guitarist Chris Allen, bass player Branden Campbell, drummer and co-vocalist Elaine Bradley, and the enigmatic and consummate front man (he’s some musical magic, yes he is), Tyler Glenn, and I was delighted to be a part of the audience Thursday night for this “Intimate night with Neon Trees“.
The band has gotten better and better over the years and three albums. Tyler is so charismatic on-stage, yet at the same time so genuine and generous, gifting the fans with energy and musicality, as well as inclusion into the show itself. We all felt like part of the show, encouraged to sing-a-long, invited to dance and scream and wave our hands in the air, and thanked multiple times for being there. We even got to help carry Tyler across the crowd, which felt like the breaking of the fourth wall experience from film and television. Tyler also acknowledged the fact that it was something special when “we” not only knew the lyrics to the radio played songs, but also the non-air-played album tracks (see the first “year of music” lesson mentioned above, falling in love with entire albums).
Everyone did seem to know the words to every song, which was incredible to be a part of. I know that I spent the entire show scream/singing-a-long and dancing until I was drenched in sweat and sore, but completely blissed out. I woke today to my body aching and my voice gone, but still feeling that live music high, because oh my stars what a show last night was.
Highlights of the night? Tyler’s dancing, singing my heart out with the crowd and the band, Tyler’s “prayer/confession/declaration” pre-First Things First, his crowd-surfing the surprise closing song cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Come On Eileen, Tyler and Elaine singing together at her drums, and the fact that they played all but one of my favorite songs (would LOVE to hear Voices in the Hall live someday).
The tour is still going, and if you can you should check them out – remaining dates here.
Thanks for the music! Come back to Los Angeles again SOON.