2008 has belonged to HARD. Starting with their explosive New Year’s Eve show with Justice, then with their Summer Festival with N.E.R.D. and MSTRKRFT, and most recently with the insanely popular HARD Haunted Mansion on Halloween, HARD has made a name for themselves as the biggest dance show promoters in L.A. Last night they put on a much smaller show at the Roxy for Thanksgiving cleverly titled HARD presents Turkey Soup. Unfortunately there were a large number of people that didn’t get the memo that the Roxy is a small club on Sunset, and this would not be anywhere near the hyped rave-type atmosphere that the Haunted Mansion turned into. But, since it was all ages there were a large number of teenagers twirling glowsticks and sucking on pacifiers. I heard a girl wearing a bikini and a garter belt who couldn’t have been more than 16 ask “where are all the ravers?” I wanted to grab her and say “Back in 1998. Why are you dressed like that? It’s the fucking Roxy.”
But underage rave kids aside, the show did not disappoint. French dance DJ Don Rimini is currently on his first U.S. tour and stopped in L.A. to open for Guns N Bombs. Both Don Rimini and Guns N Bombs were great showmen and kept the crowd hyped. But it seemed that most of the crowd, present company included, was there to see Don Rimini. The French newcomer has made a big splash on the dance and blog scene with a few hard-hitting singles. Crookers remixed his song “Let Me Back Up” which first got him notoriety and his remix for Young MC’s “Bust a Move” has all but solidified him as a new dance legend. He played all the hard-hitting Euro-dance cuts that the fans were hoping for like Fake Blood and Herve, as well as his own fan favorite, “Rave On” from his Kick N Run EP.
Local DJ’s and headliners Guns N Bombs have made a good case for being the biggest dance act from L.A. and hope to only add to that by releasing a full length album in the near future. But for those of you who are on the fence about dance and DJ shows, live DJ shows are one of a kind. Each show is unique as the DJ takes songs you love and transforms them into an almost original re-working of the song you won’t hear anywhere else. A good DJ has to be a good performer as well. But DJs don’t play instruments, they play the crowd, and GNB members Johnny Love and Filip Turbotito were playing the crowd perfectly last night. They built us up with a light, airy chorus and then unleashed some hard, crunchy electro bass drops to get our bodies moving. Johnny Love seemed to be doing most of the mixing while Turbotito focused on working the crowd. He pointed at fans that were already rocking to get them to rock harder. When GNB played their new single, “Riddle of Steel,” Turbotito got up on top of the DJ table and started pumping his fists to get the crowd to rock as hard as they could with him, and it worked. When a DJ is that fired up and passionate it’s hard not to feel it as well. So go support your local DJ, but if you go to a show you should probably find one that is 21+. The raving teenie boppers can definitely be a buzzkill.
It's an exciting time for the music scene in LA. More and more bands are making good, original music that defies easy categorization. Running in that pack are Flying Tourbillon Orchestra and I Make This Sound, who headlined what can only be described as a pre-Thanksgiving extravaganza last night at The Echo.
I got there a little late, catching the second half of Princeton's set. The singer's droll delivery over their catchy, string-heavy indie pop recalled the best elements of The Magnetic Fields. They concluded with a song written especially for the occasion. Members of FTO came out (did I mention everyone was in Thanksgiving costume?), and lent some back up singing and tamborining. Together they treated us to a Thanksgiving history lesson, wrapped up in an inspirational, arena rock anthem.
Flying Tourbillonwas up next, continuing the theme in bonnets, feathers, and otherwise Thanksgiving-y garb. Their opener was darker than most of the set, but it also featured the catchiest use of their trademark male-female vocal. Probably more than anything else, the vocals set this band apart. The singers (both leads) have found a formula, allowing their voices to quietly, effortlessly work together. It's even cooler to see that they can pull this off live (not everyone can). What's more, it was fun to watch them layer their voices on top of a rhythm section that always seemed to be slyly one step ahead.
Towards the end, they were joined on stage by the ladies of The Damselles and the singer of I Make This Sound, whose homemade turkey wings won him -- in my mind -- Best Costume for the night. With their increased size, FTO + performed an original Thanksgiving song, and tore up some Damselle-lead Motown, as well as a cover of "Happiness is a Warm Gun."
Concluding the festivities was a down 'n dirty performance by I Make This Sound. I never thought I'd use "down 'n dirty" to describe this band, but they recently paired down their personnel, going from 378 members to a lean 5. What we saw last night was a band in sweet transition, as they road-tested some new material. The songwriting is generally tighter, replacing the denser, soundscape-y arrangements with more muscular ones. The singer's low-end, full voice still leads, and the band can still go from slower / atmospheric to balls-out rocking without a problem. Essentially, it's a more condensed version of the same thing. Can't wait to see where they go with it.
After a great night of local opening bands at Spaceland that included Death to Anders and Le Switch, we awaited the huge main course meal of the night which was headliners O'Death. The five man band, hailing from New York, carries on woeful tunes in the style of dark American blues,folk rock, mixed in with a slice of hillbilly goth, while combining the sounds of country and bluegrass...and it just works on stage!
O'Death is completely original in sound and display. I was so completely impressed. The performance started off with a toast of shots to the audience led by the band before jumping into the bloody sound racket that is O'Death. The group features Greg Jamie on vocals and acoustic guitar who sings his tunes with a raspy and misery drenched voice. It is strong and proliferates through any emotional sound boundaries. His voice sounds similar to that of Les Claypool (Pimus) but has a creepier side, with its oft-loved screeches and screams. The originality of the band is also their use of more non traditional instruments including the ukulele, banjos, and fiddles.
O'Death's set was full of songs with creepy, yet sweet melodies discussing death and murder, ranging from slow to fast, however keeping the audience dancing, clapping, hooting and hollering. Yep, I said hooting and hollering. The band was fierce in style with a statement proclaiming loudly "I don't give a fuck about fashion or clothing." All the band members proved to be so skilled and gifted players, but for me, fiddle player Bob Pycior totally jumped out. Bob, whose energy, was so electrifying and magnetic, stood out like a polished needle in a smoke filled haystack. Not only could he play seemingly perfect while furiously dancing around on stage, the music melodies he played radiated from his soul to his hands and unto the audience. And all of us at Spaceland felt that through our very core.
During a small part of their set, O'Death broke out into an acapella before jamming right into another loud fusion of more dissonance and twang, leaving us wanting more and more. Throughout the performance, the bands energy remained a constant ten on the rickter scale. What else can I say, O'Death rocked. It's been a year since they last played in Los Angeles and hopefully it wont be be another year before they are back in town.
UTK, The Beatards' front man, is screaming at a sold out crowd of LA hipsters that he wants a thick chick, like Jennifer Hudson. The line is too ironic coming from the lean Brooklyn rap trio, who is performing in front of a sold out Roxy crowd of teens and potential American Apparel models. I look around; the last thick girl I saw anywhere near here was back at Saddle Ranch on Sunset. The all age concert goers love the irony and laugh at the line, not ashamed to dance and grind their skinny jeans and tank tops to the Brooklyn beat.
The Beatards are Chuck Wild, UTK the INC, and Dj O. They hail from Brooklyn, New York and are out promoting their first original project Big Bad Beat. Tonight at the Roxy, they are opening for Cisco and Shwayze. The curtains begin to rise and out of nowhere, an anonymous voice makes The Purple Rain intro over the speakers, “Ladies and gentleman, the Beatards!” The trio hit the Roxy stage with early Beastie Boy swagger and energy (minus the debauchery of course, this is an all ages show), Chuck Wild literally punching the pad's on the 303 sampler to bang out the 808's into the crowd. "Mind if I bust a freestyle Los Angeles?" UTK doesn't wait for a response, and dives lyrics first into a playful, off the dome rhyme about the evening’s happenings. Bold move for an up and coming act to open with a freestyle, but I admit- impressive. After the impromptu session, the group takes it straight into the energetic and fast pace Dang Diggy Dang, which has MC’s Chuck and UTK rhyming at tongue-twisting warped speed, letting the crowd know immediately, “We got that crunk hun, to make you chumps jump, to get your humps, lumps and bumps all wanting sooome!”
From there, the trio breaks into their single/youtube smash, "Make the Bed". The post-intercourse anthem has the kids mouthing the words and grinding just a little bit harder. As the song wraps up, two sexy women, too old to be young but young enough to be hip, strut onstage and stand behind two microphones, awaiting their cue to start singing the vocals on the next songs hook. The Beatards dip into a reggae grove that's part Sublime and part Kanye. A little switch up from the up-tempo grooves but the transition is smooth. Now, more than halfway into the set and accompanied by the seductive yet roaring vocal power of the Davis Sisters, The Beatards show the Roxy that they aren't a one-trick pony band, but have more musical dimension than just afternoon-delight sing a long records. "Music is my occupation, I'm a slaaaaave to the rhythm!" belt the two MC's as the crowd sings along. "Dip like a Dorito, get hot like jalapeño, shake it to the ground and shake it all arooound!" Before the group exits from the stage, Dj O spins a few records and reminds the crowd to put on their sunglasses, “Because it makes you sound cool.”With a wave of X-marked hands swinging in the air, the all age LA crowd needs no excuse to throw on the trademark frames- LA has officially welcomed the Brooklyn trio into their ipods.
Timing could not have been better. I got a few MP3's a while back from Adam Balbo. Dam, I am really stoked I went through yet another inbox cleansing this morning. I started deleting emails, dozens at a time. Lost in the layers of the emails we have been receving at Loudvine.com, was an email we received a while back from a folk singer, Adam Balbo. Adam Balbo was hyping up his "Big Kid Now" EP.
There it was, downloaded it, straight to the play button, and "Pie or Soup" came up. I hate to drop this comparison, but if you like folk music, what hit me upfront, where tones and twangs, lyrically bringing me back to Nashville Skyline. That and the fact that I love folk music. Now there is something comical about the way Adam Balbo writes his music. His observations, while obscure, are funny, and followed by an acoustic sound that matched my mood perfectly today. Adam Balbo, through his sound, will paint a visual for you, one where you will be immersed in the latest story he is telling you. Adam Balbo will take you on a fun, simple musical journey. Adam Balbo, good and worth checking out.
Anya Marina. Singer. Songwriter. Los Angeles musician to the very core inspires with a silky, rock and roll voice. She must be doing something right besides making cool music because she is playing at the Hotel Cafe again on Friday, November 21st before leaving for a mini tour of Florida. And I know there is something about Anya because people are talking and talking a lot about this wonderful singer.
As the title of this track implies, its is obvious Anya Marina wants to move you. And she does move me. Easily, with the power of a guitar and a rocketing voice, the stripped down, pure sounds of Anya Marina show a singer that is as easily willing to go from the softness and contemplation of a solo, heartfelt song to a girl willing to just flat out rock and roll on songs like "Afterparty at Jimmy's." There is something fun, relaxed about the way Anya sings, and it is nice to listen to. Her songs set for me a mood, where I can just be. And I love that.
Now here is a word I do not use very often, but her style has a spunk about her. Anya Marina will have fun with you and you are left wanting just a little bit more. And more. Luckily for us, we get to have Anya Marina all to ourselves again at the Hotel Cafe tomorrow night. Anya Marina keeps it coming with her songs and we all look forward to the new album which should drop shortly.
Carina Round at The Hotel Cafe. She was excited, thrilled to play the Hotel Cafe. And why not? A sip of whiskey and she started a set with her duo backing her up. There is something about live music that makes you wonder what goes through a band's mind as they set out to tackle their performance. The thing about Carina Round, is simply this, she belonged on the Hotel Cafe stage last night and the people in the audience made their best efforts to make her feel that. She delivered a performance worthy of the "indie" label because she just kept it real, stripped down, doing it her way.
The thing about this type of performance is, we demand it. Its real, simple, personal and you get to the know the band a little. Rather then just go through a hurried set, Carina Round, was part therapist last night, talking about relationships, part word smith, joking with us, about some of the word choices we make in this country, and part comedian, as she just engaged us all. But ultimately, she was a serious performer with a message and fierceness to match her short set.
Carina Round is currently recording a new album, her fourth. In between songs, she said she was "looking for a rich person to help fund her latest album!" If I had the money Carina, I would give it to you in a heartbeat Carina. But that would mean you would have to do more shows in LA. And if the crowd's reaction was any indication, they would welcome her back openly every time she wanted to play. Funny, engaging, and totally Rock & Roll, Carina Round kept us involved at every step of the set while performing older material and new material from a yet to be finished new album.
I felt a connection with her. Maybe it is because when she looked off stage I was eagerly staring at her, almost like a child, saying "pick me," but I just wanted to have everybody else disappear and have her serenade me. And only me, but then again that would be too self-serving, for Carina Round's songs and sound should not just be for me to enjoy. I know that! So I am writing about it and helping pass along the word on Carina Round that way.
Just a few words. The reason is because I do not want to cheapen or influence others with what I say. But simply put, you put the beautiful singer/songwriter Lex Land on stage and within, oh maybe 30 seconds she will light up the entire room. The sultry, voice keeps you consumed for her entire set. She has been doing some shows regularly at The Hotel cafe and last night I finally got a chance to see her for myself.
Last night was a happy accident, I showed up early and here was one of the local artists we have been mentioning on Loudvine.com for a while but always missing her. So I sat down and watched her perform.
What a treat to listen to her last night. A sweet, and I mean sweet voice, accompanied by her bassist and drummer, she fills in the cracks, touches you were you like to be tickled so deeply, you almost feel embarrassed when someone finds your spot. Lex Land found my spot last night. She found it with a voice that bounced off the Hotel Cafe brick walls and lingered in the air. Over and over and dam it felt so good. This girl is going to blow up, mark my words. Her tenderness, vocals need to roam and her time will come. While the attitude is so very LA, her sound is worldly.
She can do it all, from classical to acoustic, all in such a loving way, like soft a hand on your back that gently guides you. You trust it, her voice that is. You do not know where it is going to take to take you but you know you will be in a happy place after listening to her sing live.
Ok. Very fired up. Its not everyday Kraak & Smaak hit you up and say, please sit down with us. Ok, so maybe it was someone on their "team," but seriously who cares, its Kraak & Smaak.
So I drop in the copy of the new album, "Plastic People," the latest album that has them doing promotions in the United States for a few shows and I just let the album take me where it is supposed to take me. Kraak & Smaak in town for a bunch of promotions including the Jimmy Kimmel Show, decided to have a sit down with Loudvine.com(INTERVIEW HERE)
Kraak & Smaak have been around for a while, they have a sweet discography that includes "Boogie Angst" and now the dynamic Kraak & Smaak has dropped "Plastic People" for all of us to relish in. Kraak & Smaak continues to grow up with a fiercer sound. Building off the karma that comes along with playing across the world to large crowds, Kraak & Smaak have built up postivity by simply giving people what they need, good and inspired live sets. When you factor in all those experiences, combine it with an amazing collection of korgs, rhodes and mix it in with being able to digg from one of the worlds sickest vinyl collection to sample from, Kraak & Smaak on "Plastic People" continue to make music that shows they are growing, not staying static, and striving to take the next step in their own musical evolution. And we are better off because of it.
This latest album has eclectic, wide ranging sounds, from some eastern infused beats to more pop-ish sounds. "Plastic People" is still lined up with the funky bass lines that Kraak & Smaak are known for bumping loudly. "Plastic People" will run through you like good music is expected to, causing you to experience a wonderful hour of sounds that makes you wish you were on some dancefloor watching Kraak & Smaak spin live for you and a few of your closest thousands of friends. There is a communal feel that will connect, that feeling of wanting to share this music with others, throughout this album. You can feel it, from the title track "Plastic People, " to "Ain't Gonna Take it No More" to "Squeeze Me."
The need to connect, "stripped down," to its very core, allows Kraak & Smaak to connect their sound with people all over the world. Kraak & Smaak make music for the people. You hear their distinctive tones on this album that will inspire you to finish your late nights with "Plastic People" still playing over and over again. "Plastic People" shows you that Kraak & Smaak, continue to grow make fun, funk, and captivating music that will still resonate in your entire being long after you have turned it off. "Plastic People" shows they have matured and their sound, as it always has been is ready for the US and beyond on an even bigger scale.
With a sound that now borders on sexier, heavier lounge, Kraak & Smaak tackles "Plastic People" with the same deep, probing bass and vocals and samples that continue to set Kraak & Smaak apart from others. They are true to form, making organic and good music and will guaranteedto get any party and dance floor moving. Music is supposed to uplift us. Take us away, create a fun, happy place to take us to. The album "Plastic People" does all these things. I can only imagine what their set @ the Henry Ford Music box on Friday, November 21st will be like.
We are lucky to have them in Los Angeles as they make their way up the pacific west coast to San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and so many other great cities. I know they will leave the audience seeking that legendary Kraak & Smaak sound that makes you want to just forget everything else and let the music take hold of you.