California Blues

A needle in a steel wool haystack.

Saloon Swilling Lounge Acts

And now for a summary of the new year. So far, it’s been a full tumbler of whisky and gin, one barroom show to the next, and all enjoyable. First up is the newly renovated The Joint at Pico and Robertson. Sure, it’s far from the normal concert halls, but the stage and sound system make it no different from the more well known spaces. The only drawback to it is the lack of beer on tap, but you soon get over that with the right music. Deep Sleep Ops, StolenPlayer, and Armada are the acts on this Saturday night. The best surprise of the night, however, was DJ Marcel spinning between the sets. She played a wonderful mix rather flawlessly and kept the crowd upbeat for the bands. And it needed to be upbeat after Deep Sleep Ops. They’re not a bad band, they’re just stuck in late 90s alternative rock and don’t seem to bring anything all that interesting or fresh to the sound. StolenPlayer brings a fresh face to energetic frontwomen and some decent, catchy music, but they’re still caught up in an unfocused mess. Definitely an enjoyable and powerful mess, and hopefully they’ll only get better. Armada headlined the show and brought their trademarked show. A little bit punk, a little bit garage, some dashes of twang, a ballad or two, and all rock.

Next up is a multi-leveled show at Airliner in Lincoln Heights. Upstairs is Cyn Electric followed by Rough Duchess, downstairs on a tiny half-stage are a group pop act closed by a local acoustic guitar comical lyricist. Upstairs has a better stage, soundsystem, and acts. Cyn Electric is an east side band playing a version of southern California punk ska, only with just enough talent to emerge from the mass of mediocrity which plagued Los Angeles in the 90s. They take only enough from modern pop rock to give the punk ska the proper edge to cut through the speakers and pick you up. ‘Course, maybe having Rough Duchess dancing in front kept the energy up, but at least half of it was Cyn Electric. The crowd always makes a live show better, and it’s extremely difficult to get an exuberant crowd in this city. Rough Duchess takes the stage at full throttle. Two performers and one laptop, yet it doesn’t lack anything. Sam and Noah can outperform two typical band members, and the audience doesn’t miss a thing. The audience isn’t as energetic as the music demands, but it’s also tiny, a Tuesday night, and in Lincoln Heights. Otherwise the show is amazing: loud, energetic, and full of crowd interaction. Noah plays in the crowd, and Sam dances on bars, ledges, and with the crowd. Great fun, and a great example of how electro-clash can be just as energizing as rock.

The next week brings a couple of intimate shows at Room 5, the lounge version of a swilling and swaying saloon. Saturday night brings The Brendan Hines back for more, filling in for Kristen Toedtman. Unfortunately, the earlier act packed Room 5 to the brim and barely anyone could squeeze in. Within ten minutes most of them are gone, sadly the rest of them hang in the back and talk over the first few songs from Hines. In a room this small, it’s more than noticeable. Hines takes it in stride and doesn’t drop a comically insulting line until the third song. Finally, they all vanish into the ether and the small audience left gets to hear what it wants, enjoyably melodious croons which err more country than pop. Luckily, the comedy keeps it grooving until Hines belts out his crowd pleasers. ‘Guess What’ is a solid example of his talents as a barroom lyricist. There’s also a fair few unreleased songs which go a good ways to capture the comedy heartbroken romance, or the lack thereof.

The next Tuesday sees a New York contingent at Room 5, Chloe Temtchine and Greg Holden. Temtchine plays palatable acoustic pop with a soulful voice, and excels at it. Then she pulls out surprises, with impromptu flawless beat-boxing during ‘Hotter Than Sunshine’ and a great song entirely in French. She says it’s about trying to take the high road, but realizing that you can’t get rid of the devil entirely, so you have to bring him with you on the high road. With a few more songs she rounds out the show, eliciting intrigue and pep, making sure we stay for Greg Holden. He takes the stage and croons as best as implants from Great Britain are known to. The only real comedy from the show comes in between songs, which are mostly earnest love songs sung very quietly. Near the end, he opens up with a friend on the piano belting out loveable and fun drinking songs about being an expat in New York. The crowd loves it, so I can imagine he’s better than most of the earnest love song crooners. Overall, Holden didn’t really grab me, but Temtchine charmed my cold cynical coal lump of a heart.

And that’s it for the new year up til now. I’ll try to get a review up of the show I’ll see tonight quickly. Hopefully no more three month waits.


22 February 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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