By the time Dream Bitches completed their performance on the first day of New York Popfest, I was a diehard fan. I knew absolutely nothing about the band going into the show other than the fact that their name raised a small red flag. Of course, I was quite careful to remind myself that while a name such as Dream Bitches could lead to something either totally offensive (or flat out embarrassing), it also held the potential for something sly, clever, and perhaps a bit subversive. Fortunately everything about Dream Bitches was entirely the latter.
Having subsequently purchased an album from the band, it seems that the majority of their set was comprised from 2008's, Coke & Splinters. I've been listening to that one a lot this week, and the same things that struck me about Dream Bitches' live show came through on that record. The harmonies are super tight, but at the same time rough around the edges.
Anyone who knows me well, actually most anyone who knows me even a little probably knows that I consider Amelia Fletcher to be something of a personal hero. Hearing her sing the title track to her band Heavenly's P.U.N.K. Girl EP when I was twenty-two somehow reduced me to a girl of twelve or thirteen. This is likely because that's somewhere around the age that I feel I should have been when I first heard Amelia. I'm not the biggest fan of statements such as "Oh that band, or that record (etc.) changed my life." It somehow always seems to devalue the impact of whatever it is you are claiming caused that change in your life. Therefore, hearing Amelia Fletcher for the first time did not change my life, in fact it was rather the opposite. My first exposure to Heavenly was a more quiet revelation. I heard this female musician with a stylistic approach that was so similar to my own, vocalizing things that I would certainly be inclined to think, operating within a sound that I didn't know existed, but one that made more sense to me than anything else I had ever heard.
1) Scottish Glasvegas and Norwegian Ida Maria are playing tonight, July 29 (seriously...can you believe July is almost over?) at the Henry Fonda Theatre. As you may recall, Ida Maria put on a super high energy, vaguely Police inspired, Bjork-ish-but-less-offbeat, crowd-pleasing performance at Coachella 2009, where she ended the performance sprawled on the stage, dripping with sweat. If you'd care to catch this, but would rather replace the semi-dressed mid-late 20s Coachella crowd with the overly fashion conscious teenage to early 20s crowd that seems to consistently populate shows at the Fonda, I recommend showing up. I've heard Glasvegas is pretty neat too.
Here's Ida Maria with an acoustic version of "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" and "Stella" on KEXP:
- This past Saturday night, RSFL darlings The Movies experienced some sort of internal, on-stage fuck-up and botched their show at Echo Curio. The event was to celebrate Seasons' John Huerta's birthday, and after birthday boy's band played a stellar set, The Movies took stage and things started to unravel. RSFL's own Brad Roberts was at the show, and witnessed that "The Movies couldn't get through one song before abandoning it and
trying another...only to abandon that, too. It was sad and embarrassing,
so I was on the sidewalk when their bass player stormed out and up the
street." Let's just hope this was a one-time mishap fueled by excessive booze or some shit. Bounce back dudes! We lurve you to pieces!
- The Silversun Pickups (pictured right) are going to be on David Letterman tonight. Bright lights, late nights.
- If you haven't heard, the Knitting Factory's Hollywood location is closing up shop in October. Whatever. Their acoustics sucked anyway.
Oklahoma'sStarlight Mints, who undoubtedly have some of the best album artwork around, extend that artistic instinct right up to the lightshows that back the stage where they perform their fabulous art rock. I once saw them perform with the title sequence from the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn movie Charade playing behind them (photo at right). Joined by our own fantastic art rockers, in the guise of innocent pop,Castledoor will satisfy a full house atThe Troubadouron Monday. The Mints are armed with a new CD's worth of new material, so expect a perfect blend of the old and new. No Doubt bring The Sounds back to town for two shows at the Gibson Amphitheatre, but the Swedish upstarts take a night off to play their own show at the Key Club on Thursday. I enjoy the music of Beduoin Soundclash, who I've seen a couple of times and highly recommend, at The Roxy on Wednesday.
I've wanted to see Regina Spektor for a long time and I have my chance Tuesday night. She has a new CD called Far that began life near the top of some charts somewhere, and her concert sold out within hours of going on sale, so the Moscow born, Bronx resident has got a solid following. Her creatively odd and qurky songs suit her easy, breezy voice and I have longed to hear her live. The El Rey seems the perfect venue for her to play and for an audience to enjoy her refreshingly honest and straight-forward songs about relationships.
At the local level, the number of bands one has to see continues to mushroom out of control. Not only is it the tremendous amount of new bands appearing almost daily, but the frequency with which these bands like to perform. Some of our favorite L.A. bands play three, even four, times in one week, I guess for the sheer love of playing live. Man, are we lucky! So this week I'll just mention one of the newer and more unusual bands on stage this week. Marshweed (at left) is something you just have to experience to understand. I first saw Heather Lockie's band at a delightful show at Echo Curio last month and I recommend the L'Keg show for those who enjoy, what I'll call, homemade chamber/bedroom, indie/classical music of personal expression. Got it?
On Friday, July 10, 2009, I had a front row ticket for composer, violinist, whistler extraordinaire, Andrew Bird, at the Greek Theatre. I've never had that kind of luck before, and it actually made the Greek feel intimate.
People familiar with Bird and his unusual music know to expect an attention-riveting experience, but it's the uninitiated who sit in mouth-gaping astonishment at what they are hearing. This has held true each time I've seen him and was true again on this evening. Despite some technical glitches, forcing him to alter his program, he eased from one song to the next gracefully, never betraying any frustration at the fact that he was improvising his set.
Liechtensteinhave what they do down to a science. The look (each girl was wearing a white t-shirt, rene and naime in the front coupled theirs with black skirts, the drummer opted for black pants) was a clear indicator that we were in for a classy show, but the sound, oh the sound. I'll admit that during the show itself I wondered if it was more restrained than what I was hoping for, but then I realized that this is a large part of the appeal of Liechtenstein; the ability to offer a show that detoured from that level of playful sophistication that Liechtenstein have been able to maintain more skillfully than anyone since perhaps the Mo-Dettes or Dolly Mixture, yet remain completely captivating. At the same time, what Liechtenstein did offer live was not exactly the sound that is represented on their records either. There was something a bit darker than I would have expected, and a there was a bit more distance. This was all evidenced of course, on last year's exceptionally well constructed "Security by Design," the b-side to the equally brilliant "Apathy."
Thursday night I ventured out for the LA(heart)SF show at The Echo, an ongoing series of tradeoff shows for great bands from both cities, which featured San Francisco's French Miami playing with Los Angeles' own Kissing Cousins, The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, and The Monolators. As I rarely venture up north, this series is a nice treat to get a taste of what's going on up the coast.
Due to our city's inept Metro system, I was of course fashionably late and missed Kissing Cousins. However, I was informed by friends I trust that they sounded great and I should go out of my way to see them when next they play.
RFSL's resident photographer extraordinaire, Laurie Scavo, soon joined me and after a little catching up I stumbled into a swollen armed Andy Sierra and spoke of The Henry Clay People's latest tour, and how life was sizing up for them. They seem to be in good hands, and as for the swollen arm, you will have to ask him about that.
But while I was talking with Andy I noticed a strange set-up happening on stage. There were two keyboards stacked back to back in the middle with an accompanying keyboard off center and a drum machine under all of them. This all lead me to believe the SF’s French Miami was going to be a dancey- electro kind of thing.
I would be wrong.
French Miami were a strange band to get my head around. They were good. They were energetic. They were music to shake you butt to. I think I witnessed the most incredible use of finger tapping/ hammer-ons I have ever seen. Their “lead” guitar player played hammer-ons with one hand whilst playing the keyboards with the other and never missed a beat. That in itself would have been pretty amazing, but on the next song I saw him play what was probably a piano part out in full with a finger tapping display on par with Van Halen.
After this tremendous display of guitar virtuosity it was quite a letdown when they ruptured the bass drum head and had to stop the show short. While I found myself having a hard time warming up to the band's vocals–the singer seemed to be straining to hit notes and sing in key which in all fairness could have been due to the sound system, being tired, or maybe he just not being able to sing well–at any rate I would still see them again if they came through town.
Up next was The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra who were anxious to debut their newest addition Sara Radle. After a brief intro by Eli Monolator, the band kicked into high gear with their take on what I will hence forth dub "cali-indie-folk-new wave-rock." (I like to think that takes into account all the different sounds you will find at a FTO show.) This band has matured so much in the past couple of years and it shows in their song writing and compositions as well as overall band dynamic. New singer Sara Radle's voice is amazing! She can really carry a song, and I would say almost to the point that it is making Hunter have to up his game a bit to keep up. It seemed on certain songs like his voice might be getting a little overwhelmed at times. Of course, like all things in art maybe this was planned, and regardless the girl/boy alternating vocals were nothing but charming.
I would be remiss if I didn’t gush over the encore. Joined onstage by The Damselles for an amazing version of Elvis' “In the Ghetto,” a song you hardly ever hear people do when covering "The King." I was remarking to some friends close by that it always seems like people usually do “Suspicious Minds” and lo and behold what was the final song of the night but that!
After much back slapping and congratulations was handed out to all, the one and only The Monolators took the stage. What more could I say that hasn't already been said about The Monolators? They are a corner stone of the music scene for as long as I have been here and are the single nicest band you will meet. Oh, and they rock your ass off with their mix of earnest 70’s punk rock and 50’s rock n’ roll which is always as invigorating as it is good. Unfortunately I was only able to catch the first half of the set due to my having to leave early but I heard from a close friend that Eli’s guitar went out and he ended playing the set guitarless–which isn’t always a bad thing as Eli is sometimes at his best when allowed to roam the room and get the kids jumping off their feet. I am sad to have missed it.
All in all I would call this half of the band exchange program a success and look forward to seeing more amazing, collaborative shows.
Normally, I'm much more patient waiting for the arrival of my
amazon.com purchases, but for each of the past 3 days I've been
disappointed for not yet having received this compilation of 1970s Beninese psychedelia I bought last week during an ambitious, horizon-expanding moment. In the paraphrased words of another blogger, is my indie rock consciousness going global? And following, this weeks' silver free lake videos!
1) I seriously can't imagine what the Grace Jones performance on July 26 at the Hollywood Bowl is going to be like. When I was a child, something about her scared me, but in the last few years my fancies n the likes of Nina Hagen (passing) and Laurie Anderson (not so passing) left me feeling that I should be at the very least aware of her. I suppose there's something about her that feels like a joke, that I'm just not in on. That being said, I spent a week or two in 2008 when I couldn't get "I've Seen This Face Before" out of my head:
Remember that AM show on Saturday night at The Hotel Cafe that Brad mentioned in The LA Show Lowdown on Monday? To wit: "A terrific band who have a new CD coming out and they really impressed me when I saw them at Spaceland earlier in the year."
Now you can find out for yourself... We have a pair of tickets that you can potentially win for the show, if you're over 21 and know how to spell your own name.
Enter by dropping a line to "RFSLjoe(at)gmail(dot)com”
with "AM tickets" in the subject line and your full name in the
message text. Winners will be drawn at random on Thursday.