While I had heard of Seattle band Telekinesis, it was only last week that they jumped on my radar in a big way. First, I was given a mix-tape featuring their feel-good summer song "Imaginary Friend." Then came their live set on Friday at KCRW. The one-two punch made me an instant fan.
When I realized they were playing the early show at Echoplex on Saturday night, I ran down just in time to catch their short, but ever so sweet set.
Telekinesis is the creation of Michael Benjamin Lerner - one of those rare one man projects. On tour, however, he drums and sings and is backed by a band of his best friends.
Well, after an inexcusable giveaways lapse (that's on me) your friends here at Radio Free Silver Lake are back with a sweet one to make up for it. Tickets AND a CD for two lucky readers.
Thanks to the team over at the Echo, Radio Free Silver Lake has two pairs of free tickets for Eulogies, with each of the two lucky winners receiving a copy of Eulogies excellent new Dangerbird release, Here Anonymous. Joining this night will be Cincinnati's Bad Veins, Avi Buffalo and A Decent Animal to fill out this excellent bill of really fine music.
Sorry, local music fans, but the Hollywood Bowl is stealing most of the thunder (or is that fireworks?) this week. Of course, the Bowl has a three day Fourth of July extravaganza beginning on Thursday night and continuing through Saturday, the fourth. This year's guest star, John Fogerty, doesn't appear to have ever stopped singing in his long, forty-plus year career. And as one pop icon passes into history, a couple of other fairly significant rock and roll idols who are still with us, Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood play the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday. Then on Sunday, July 5th, Death Cab For Cutieperform with The Los Angeles Philharmonic, which should be pretty beautiful. Opening bands areTegan and Sara, who I've longed to see forever, and The New Pornographers, who are actually the whole reason I'm going to this show.
How back porches and living rooms of
Los Angeles houses have become music incubators for the city's
By Whitney Hawke
sits on a milk crate in a Boyle
Heights parking lot. With his eyes closed and head bobbing
with devotion, he tickles a MicroKorg
synthesizer and stomps on a tambourine to the pulsing beat of
“Country First,” a song by his band Halloween Swim Team. Carrillo
is encircledby die hard fans and the youth of Boyle Heights –
all clad in black pants, black shirts and black lo-top Vans. House
shows like these are a growing niche in Los Angeles – where living
rooms and rooftops have morphed into music incubators that cultivate
bands like No Age and Mika Miko, who have gone on to sign lucrative
contracts with the power labels Sub Pop and Kill Rock Stars.
Deterred by the steep cover charges of The Sunset Strip,
overbearingly hip teens in Downtown, and pearl-buttoned plaid-shirt
wearing indie rockers in Silver Lake, music-lovers in East Los
Angeles are pioneering their own underground music scene by
organizing free shows at local residences.
in the parking lot of “Mendez Manor”
– an apartment complex on Soto St. that has offered to host this
triple-header show with Halloween Swim Team, De Hombres and Conejos,
who are playing to a thick, squirrelly crowd of 100. Red plastic cups
brimming with $1 keg beer are pressed firmly in the palm of each
crowd member – a beefy bouncer donning an intimidating black blazer
dolls out the cheap drinks without checking the IDs of the show's
young patrons. “At house shows there's really no rules. Anything
goes” says Dustin Krapes, a show organizer for The Vermont House in
Mid-City (pictured below).
Of course I know that I have to use caution when heaping such high (albeit undeniably deserved) praise upon such close friends, but The Tartansperformance that I saw in New York was a different level for them. It was the last show of their East Coast tour, and I'm not sure if the added level of confidence that was present here was based on the experience of the tour, or the fact that this was the first show that I had seen from them as a five piece. In any regard, I was blown away. I've long considered the Tartans to be my favorite L.A. band, and I became such good friends with them in the first place due to this fact. Now though, with Brian Young stepping in to flesh out the sound (most effectively on any song with one of his newly added saxophone parts) they are something of a force to be reckoned with. They've taken to opening their set with "West of La Brea," which I can already see turning into a huge crowd favorite, and closing with "My Baby Doesn't Care for You," the current huge crowd favorite.
Friday night I got talked into going to see Thieves Like Us (yes...that's the name of a song by New Order) at The Echoplex. My girlfriend knows the singer from her college days, and had mentioned that he ran off to live in Amsterdam years ago, formed a band, and has been touring and doing well. We saw them last time they came through town at The Echo, after my girlfriend got a copy of his Demo in the mail. She played it for me, and I took it straight to airwaves of KXLU Demolisten.
Since then, he's been signed to several labels in Europe and North America. "Drugs in My Body" immediately stood out as one of those really great new sounding songs that you just have to have. It's made up of 1/2 second skipping segments of Durutti Column song (according to Peter Choyce) looped into a really damn catchy dance song. And the lyrics sing like a nursery rhyme for kids playing hop skotch. "Go Downtown with the drugs in my body...Step back up from the life of the party."
The Internet has given an up-close look at the current political protests in Iran and subsequent, bloody government crackdowns... Between the constant stream of underground news updates on Twitter and more well-publicized stories like the tragic death of protester Neda Agha-Soltan (recorded on cellphone camera, uploaded onto YouTube, and witnessed by hundreds of thousands), it's been hard to ignore.
As with any moment in history like this, you'd be right to ask "What can I do?" The truth is I don't know. I've been grappling with feelings of helplessness and the inanity of my comfortable everyday problems as others suffer elsewhere, myself.
But I can offer a few books if you're interested in learning more about what led Iran (and the US, for that matter) to this point today. And maybe that will help both of us figure it out from there.
All The Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer -- In 1953, the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of democratically-elected Iranian president Mohammed Mossadegh after he'd nationalized an oil industry set up to line the pockets of foreign companies while leaving little for the people of the country.
This sounds like a conspiracy theory -- almost too big to be true -- but it's well-documented history covered in this book and elsewhere. A corrupt puppet government was installed soon after... and was later torn down during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and replaced by the current theocratic regime that rules Iran today.
Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden -- In November of 1979, a group of radical Islamist students overwhelmed the US embassy in Tehran, taking sixty-six Americans hostage.
The events that followed changed the course of both Iranian and US politics, as religious hardliners there used the opportunity to purge moderates from government and the souring opinion in the US led to President Jimmy Carter's failed re-election here. Writer Marc Bowden investigates what happened then, interviewing both the hostages and their captors, to show how it shaped the world now.
Both are well-written books, full of insight and penned in the sort of compelling narrative found more often in fiction. They're worth your time, if you feel like spending a little of it to find out more about what's behind today's headlines.
We now return you to the indie rock, but feel free to continue discussing in the comments section.
By my reckoning, this is a solid week for mid to massive acts, but not so much going on in terms of local talent (some notable exceptions notwithstanding). By the same reckoning, it seems like summer has finally arrived, which meansI get to hang out on the patio behind the echo without shivering. And for that I give thanks.
1) Legendary Emmylou Harris, semi-legendary but quite good Patty Griffin, and entertaining at times but not always my favorite Shawn Colvin are playing at the Greek Theatre tonight. Given my satisfaction last week with Neko Case at the same venue, I'll safely predict that this will be a show worth catching. A warm night, indie-acceptable country, a Pink's hot dog, maybe a few over-priced beers...Sounds good to me. Here's the fabulous Emmylou Harris with Elvis Costello (who played this week at Amoeba) singing the Nazareth classic "Love Hurts" on the David Letterman show: