California Blues

A needle in a steel wool haystack.

It’s a dog on some tits. What? You’ve never seen that before?

I knew Silverlake Lounge was a small place for a show, but I never knew it would be so much fun. When You Awake presented a fine array of musicians: a mixture of energetic, dulcet, vulgar, and completely blotto. Leslie and The Badgers topple the spittoon to open the show. They don’t burst the door off its hinges, but Leslie Stevens’s soothing timbre sways the crowd. While the rhythm section provides a solid slow 60s rock vibe, Charlene’s violin and the hidden lap steel added up to make the music peak with the sound of swinging screen doors in the desert wind. The band displays a solid grasp of their talents and an extremely flexible use of them.

Up next are the energetic pixie-punk tunes of The Grates. The Brisbane-based band is finishing up their wandering US tour. Alana Skyring kicks us off with “Science Is Golden.” Those waiting at the front for Those Darlins are at the very least confused if not dejected. Those crashing the alt country show for The Grates are hopping around as much as complete geeks can hop around. John Patterson’s backup vocals don’t harmonize all that well, but apparently he has pneumonia, so, he’s doing a great job throwing it all out there when most people would lie in bed. His guitar still provides the solid punch which makes The Grates such a quirky and fun sound. By “Trampoline,” the crowd’s confusion is gone: they either hop along with the rest of us or sit at the bar downing whiskeys before Those Darlins. Between the sets, one fan told me that The Grates are just too happy for them, but really, if you dance and scream to Those Darlins, isn’t the point of rock music to be happy? I guess the disaffected intoxicated happy is more romantic.

For “Rock Boys” Patience Hodgson clears out the floor in front of the stage so she can swing her ribbon around as she dances. She does hit someone in the nose, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Before “The Biggest and Longest Adventure Ever,” Patience tries to regale the crowd with jokes, but unfortunately everyone’s running dry tonight. Luckily, the beerfaerie visits them to pass out some bottles of beer. “Do you guys have a special name for Budweiser here?” After some dreadful silence, someone in the back yells “Water!” It works for jokes. “Howl” gets the mood back up towards rock, and they finish with “Inside Outside” getting a few people dancing.

And that’s all Those Darlins want: an energetic dancing crowd. Unfortunately they’re in disaffected Los Angeles, where the inclination is to drink and listen while they occasionally yell, but almost never dance. They kick off with “Wild One” which plays so fast it’s practically unrecognizable from the LP track. It’s a good stage setter for Those Darlins fast paced guitar driven wild at heart shows. The warbling voice mixes well with a slightly slurred harmonizing on “Snaggle Tooth Mama.” WIth a more grooving guitar everyone gets onboard and into the music. They pack a lot of songs into the act and unveil a few new ones: “Legend of Greenback” and “Ride the Rodeo” which both blast the amps out with twanging rock and were apparently written on this tour. For “Hung Up On Me,” Kelley and Jessi swap instruments and croon another catchy danceable tune. At this point, they’re a little annoyed only a couple people are dancing, so they rally people around DUI bonding, except no one in Los Angeles admits to those (or no one got one). Still, it’s a great song and everyone gets into the groove a bit more.

It’s after “Ride the Rodeo” that Kelley notices Nikki’s ridiculous get up: a brown dress with a black fake fur shawl with the face of a dog coming around her shoulder. “What’s that, Nikki?” “They’re called tits.” “No, that.” “It’s a dog on some tits. What? You’ve never seen that before?” And with a laugh they barrel into the next song, “Whose That Knockin’ At My Window?” a semi-serenade full of country references which blows out into a rocking adventure. Soon everyone’s singing along to the crowd favorite “The Whole Damn Thing” and most everyone dances as best we can to “Red Light Love.” By now, Those Darlins are playing and dancing with the front row of the crowd. With their final song Kelley stands on two amps while she plays while Nikki sings the crowd slightly more than into her beer. Those Darlins have a raw energy show, the likes of which should keep every crowd entertained from New York to Los Angeles. Every song is faster, louder, and more savage than on the album, and nearly every song has interlude with an extended jam-band rock out. For the longest time the genre invented by Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, and Son Volt has been “alternative country,” but with the current trend erring more towards Those Darlins, The Ettes, and The Kills, “punk country” is a far more accurate label, especially considering their live shows.

22 October

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29 October 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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