California Blues

A needle in a steel wool haystack.

Country, Punk, and Whatever Falls in Between at the Henry Fonda

One word of advice for a show with four acts? Get there early. A half hour after doors and the curtain already lifts to reveal a dirty publican with a scruffy 2AM shadow and a devilish grin. Continue reading

16 October 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Evening Musications from a Satyr, a Fury, and Their Hydratic Drummer

At least that’s what the night evokes. Greek mythology, and not the cherubic kind full of group hugs and happy endings. Nico Vega demolished the Roxy with a crowd full of groupies, friends, and other locals with nothing to do on a Tuesday. Leading them in were The Silent Years, a Detroit band harkening back to the era of The Arcade Fire. How did Detroit earn the title of Rock City anyways? I thought it was most famous for Motown, Blues, and hipsters playing easy listening rock in churches. Oh right, Kiss. ‘Cause they took themselves seriously. Continue reading

15 October 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Medicare, Medicaid and Health Care Reform

This is a break from the concert reviews, as I’ve never really been sure exactly what this blog is going to focus on. Watching the great exchange Senator Al Franken has with some of his constituents at the State Fair really kicked me into a mentality where I had to say something.

Most people in the United States of America do not know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, or just how each program works. They are both overseen federally by the CMS, and founded in 1965. Continue reading

8 September 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Another Tuesday Night in Los Angeles (1 September)

Again, the venue is not sold out, though The El Rey Theatre is incredibly packed for the English bluesy rockers, The Duke Spirit. Band of Skulls is set to open. It seems as though it’s a great pairing, as some people enjoy The Duke Spirit but didn’t decide to rush out until labelmates Band of Skulls was announced. A great mix of people new to both or new to neither, but both bands aim for a similar sound, and the crowd yearns to hear good solid rock without the indie, hipster, or funk trappings most bands seem to have nowadays. Continue reading

8 September 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Sinful Evening With a Supergroup from Nashville

The tiny line for ticket holders at The Mayan was a bit deceptive, or maybe that was simply the late arrival. The SOLD OUT notice on the marquee didn’t really hit until a quarter hour before The Dead Weather take the stage: the bar dais is packed to the hilt, the balcony, which up until now I never knew existed bursts over the rail, and the standing room only wings to the roof are also full on–the most packed I’ve ever seen a venue, let alone The Mayan (a much neglected downtown venue).

Of course, before this, Tyvek unleashed an assault on the ears. Continue reading

28 August 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Troubadour with La Roux and Io Echo

British pop sensation La Roux played the West Coast, complete with an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. They came, they saw, they brought techs, the knocked the roof off. Helping them along the way was rising rock sensation Io Echo. La Roux is still mostly unknown stateside, but that doesn’t stop a small venue like the Troubadour from selling out well in advanced–though that might be due to La Roux’s massive internet following. The internet following cut off a lot of Io Echo’s core local fanbase, and made the crowd waiting for the show interesting. To borrow a crass friend’s preferred voice: The punters were all smelly twats addicted to the interwebs, stalking Elly Jackson over the tubes because they feel they discovered her simply because they check BBC News. In short, they reminded me of me: so I hated them for it. As start time approached, a more varied crowd arrived, and the Industry’s reserved section filled up.

Io Echo’s fog machine started around ten o’clock, so they took the stage around quarter past, after they down the requisite pre-show shot of bourbon. They started off with the slow-building Severance, giving the audience a taste of the energetic rock coming at them through the pea soup thick fog. With Enter To Exit, Io began her zombie-like dancing around the stage. Leopold Ross, as always, burned up the guitar. After I’m On Fire, Io rallied up the crowd by thanking La Roux and dedicating their Beatles cover to her: I Want You. Next they jump-start with the new hit Doorway (featured on a Sprint Palm-Pre commercial). The crowd finally gets into the swing of it, though Io’s impromptu dancing with the other band members didn’t work half as well as her dancing with Ross. For the finale, green backlights pierced through the fog and set the mood for Addicted, so far their most well known single. By finishing with a flourish, Io Echo won over yet another crowd who hadn’t heard them.

La Roux’s butch techs swoop in and set up efficiently. They brought their own mixer, complete with his own isolation headset. Either they heard about Ladyhawke’s FUBARed sound at the Troubadour in March, or they’ve played so many low-rent gigs in the past year they’ve learned to prepare for anything. Taking a cue from the Noisettes, Tigerlily kicks into action with a stage devoid of people. The band fills in as Elly Jackson sings her way down the stairs to the stage, and they came out ready to play. Continue reading

6 August 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Club NME at Spaceland with Noisettes

First time I’d ever seen a line outside of Spaceland, which was especially shocking as I didn’t hear about the show until two nights before. Apparently, I’m simply late to the game. At least I got there in the end. And it wasn’t even that late, as the doors didn’t open until well after nine. From the few 60s outfits sprinkled throughout the crowd, and the unknown opening acts, it seemed like half the audience was there for the Noisettes’ new take on the Motown wall of sound. Unfortunately for them, the Noisettes and their opening acts were still in love with the garage punk sound from their first album.

The Barracks were the first band up, and the last band to rush through their sound check. From all appearances, it seemed like these guys stepped out of a time warp from 1990s Seattle. When the music hit the floor, they pulled a refreshingly modern take on classic rock out of their instruments. Complete with a southern rock hint, the Barracks play a “noise punk” style (post-punk, prog-ish attempt at classic arena rock).* They definitely wear their influences in their long hair and on their sleeves, dropping a reference to themselves as “Ted Zeppelin.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard drums provide what passes for melody in a song before. All of The Barracks’ songs had a weaving wall of guitar and bass pushed forward and kept in line with rapidly rhythmic drumming. In the end they feel a bit like an updated Double Felix, which is remarkable as this was their first show.

Next up were the Nashville duo Magic Wands, whom I’ve seen before with The Kills and The Horrors. I gather they were able to get a decent sound check this time, as I could finally hear their backing click track.

They tour with tiger heads.

While The Kills make their fortune with the concept of dueling guitars fighting and destroying the stage, Magic Wands play a duet of dancing guitars: less tumultuous energy, but more trackable, danceable melodies. Teenage Love sounds a bit basic, until you realize the lyrics are mostly mocking the realities of teenage foibles. Their last few tracks, including Kiss Me Dead, gave the feel of a 50s slow dance, straight out of Back to the Future. The low lighting, Dexy‘s sunglasses and low sexy voice do nothing but add to this feeling of laid-back love with a dash of fleeting innocence. The lyrics may seem a bit simple, but for what they seem to be trying to capture, they fit better than elastic. Overall, see these guys at a smaller venue, as I never really got a feel for their music until this show.

True to form, the Noisettes start their set with the familiar beat of Wild Young Hearts, but there’s no lead singer on stage–no microphone in the stand either. The music fades. The dulcet tones of Shingai Shoniwa start the chorus a capella. Soon the music comes up again, as she emerges from backstage. Continue reading

6 August 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

A Tuesday Night at The Silverlake Lounge with Armada

With a post ten start time on a Tuesday night, you’re not going to get much of a crowd, especially with a band who does not seem to be known amongst the usual suspects in Silverlake. Oddly, Armada was the only band scheduled for the night, so at least the sound check wasn’t be a problem. They start with the core reliable track: Great Spectacular and get their feel for the small stage as they transition seamlessly into People. As always, Core sets the pace superbly with precision drumming leaving the energetic atmosphere to bassist Jeremy Gruber and Cody Page. The band stay tight as they go through a new song, a keyboard infused rock out. Once they pull Beautiful Heat off with aplomb, Page and Gruber relax, joke about the massive amount of sweat produced in a tiny bar with no ventilation, and lay into The Sprinter, a fast-paced, non-stop attack on the senses.

Starting with Possibilities, a slow jazzy love song, Armada moves into their bluesy sound. The rest of the show sticks in this vein, and its only with the foot-stomping grit of Up, Out that you notice Page’s subtle cowboy boots. The song, apparently inspired by a Jack Kerouac novel, dwells in insanity, escape, and a homey, southern feel. Next up is the gratuitous ballad every rock group needs, a slow keyboard enhanced I Love You with appropriately muffled warbling vocals. America For Sleeves bends the boundaries of the “bluesy room” and gets the place back to a rocking energy with Core, drenched in sweat, pounding away at the drums. For the finale, Cody Page invites the audience to the front for some slam dancing fun, and starts with a slide for that energetically grating sound. He hops off the tiny stage/platform and plays at the furthest reach of his amp cable, gearing up the song: Renaissance. Back on stage to sing, Gruber and Page jump around the stage narrowly missing each other with their instruments as they rock out the final song, sending us home happy.

21 July

Armada

6 August 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment