So, we had two options. Either listen to them on KCRW or go to the Echo and watch them live on Friday. I chose to go to Echo and listen, and of course, I am talking about The Asteroids GalaxyTour. And boy I am so glad that I did. Seriously, how different could it be being at The Echo on a Friday night listening to a danish pop and funk sensation I wondered to myself as I waited outside to get in? Then I had my answer as soon as I walked in and there was a definite sense of anticipation for this band to go on.
With a lead singer that looks like she walked out of a closet owned by Grace Slick and Janis Joplin but with an elegance all her own, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, led by the incredible and playful Mette Lindberg and the keys of Lars Iversen took the stage and set beautiful melodies, blown to a soft brass section behind them and started to ease into the set with a psychedelic flashing light concoction and lime green lights illuminating the echo stage all to a semi-nude drummer. Hmm, only a few seconds into the set, and I was already hooked to sounds of The Asteroids GalaxyTour.
Sometimes the best thing about music is our inability, or simply not wanting to label it . Let's just say that this 60's flavored singer blazes a danish funk pop combination of stellar sounds, that you simply label The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, and dam it, you leave it at that. The Music is fun, unique, and truly stands on its own.
There was a packed crowd at The Echo this night to see The Asteroids GalaxyTourfor their first ever show in Los Angeles. And it wont be the last if this performance was any indication. Personally, I really like how these euros came to LA with a big fucking smile on their faces, and gave us lucky folk an incredible night of live music and killed their set.
I can't even begin to classify Dark Dark Dark. Are they Gothic Cabaret? European-folk-fusion? Classical banjo-jazz done indie style? No... None of those really capture what this band is. All I know is, last night at the Hotel Café, this band played some really, really pretty music. On top of that, I now have a newfound respect for the accordion.
Dark Dark Dark have the least traditional instrumentation the indie scene has had in a long time. No guitars, no drum kits, no sonic synths or fuzzy effect pedals. Just banjo, cello, piano, trumpet, upright bass, and (of course) the accordion. That's right, the accordion is cool again. Forget about Urkel or Polka or any of those other cheesy stereotypes. Lead singer Nona Invie played her accordion with passion, making some super touching (and sexy) sounds.
They started the evening with the sizzling hot "Trouble No More", a song about unrequited love that was overflowing with haunting imagery. Invie crooned with her rich, raspy vocals, "Find me the muddiest shore, that's where I'll go to get lost, I wont cause you no trouble no more." Oh dear, this song hit really close to home. In another song, Marshall LaCount deftly plucked his banjo and offered, "I will make you a boat out of lightning and fill it with pearls." A somber trumpet solo followed and I melted. The music was just so damn beautiful. But it was also extremely gothic too. In "Junk Bones" Invie seethes: "all the junk you fill your bones with, it fills us too... all the rope you hang your neck with, it left a mark." Oooh, that one hurt too...
With a name like Dark Dark Dark, it's no wonder they're so good at revealing inner sadness about true love lost. My heart was often breaking right along to Jonathan Kaiser's cellos (yes, I still adore cellos). These guys took the "I really wish you loved me as much as I loved you" sentiment and elevated it to poetry. Really lovely musical poetry. The reason it worked so well though, is the music itself was generally up-tempo and lively. It was the kind of music you want to play you're walking through the rain in Paris (or even just when you want to pretend you're in Paris).
I loved how well composed the music and the lyrics were. I loved hearing instruments I rarely hear live. And most of all, I loved being made to see the accordion in a brand new light. I was so impressed with Dark Dark Dark that I even bought one of their t-shirts after the show. And in case you're wondering, yes, it has an accordion on it.
Space 1520 is a welcome addition to the music venues in Hollywood. I suppose "venue" isn't quite right, though, since 1520 is technically a complex of shops and galleries. But in the middle of it all is a cool outdoor area with a wide stage and sound rig. It's simple and unpretentious, and a nice break from the musical dregs of the nearby Strip.
I imagine the open space would be ideal on a warm summer day, but last night's chill didn't deter a small, young-ish crowd from coming out on a Thursday night. (By the by,1520 is all ages, which is great; younger crowds always seem more enthusiastic about the music).
The cold air also didn't deter Amateurs from delivering a typically lively set. Is it totally cheesy to say their warm brand of rock n roll swagger kept us all insulated?... Yes, yes I believe it is. For the uninitiated, Amateurs are a 5 piece, which might be an incidental detail for most line ups, but for them it's worth mentioning, given the way they blend the instrumentation. Adding to the usual guitar-bass-drums trifecta are trumpet and pedal steal. For some rock bands, it's tempting to use these as extra layers on top, but Amateurs stand out for fully integrating them into the songs.
Indeed, every song from the set sounded full, making even their most laid back rhythms feel confident and infectious. Listening to them, I was reminded of the best parts of 70s rock. "Groove" is a word I try to avoid, but I think it's apt here. With touches of indie rock-guitar and bright, trumpeted melodies, their sound -- and show -- is definitely worth your time.
DAM! We have some amazing shows to pick from this week. Since we run a sick calendar these are only some of our picks. But for evertyhing else, click here.
American Gil & The Major Dudes, 9PM @ Perhspace, Echo Park
Angela Correa, 9PM @ Room 5, Los Angeles
Steel Panther, 9PM @ Key Club, Hollywood
Sugar & Gold, 9PM, @ Silverlake Lounge, Silverlake
Western States Motel, 9M, @Home, Silverlake
Drinking Liberally, 9PM @ Trips, Santa Monica
23 Rainy Days, 9PM @ MotionLA, Los Angeles
The Fresh & The Onlys, 10 PM @ Silverlake Lounge, Silverlake
MotherMother, 9PM @ Troubadour, Hollywood
The Mae Shi, 10PM @ The Smell, Echo Park
Yellow Red Sparks, 10PM @ Hotel Café, Hollywood
Branford Marsalis, 8PM @ Catalina's, Hollywood
Kenan Bell, 10PM @ The Echo, Echo Park
Carina Round, 9PM @ Largo, Los Angeles
Zee Avi, 9PM @ Hotel Café, Hollywood
J.J. Cale, 9PM @ McCabes, Santa Monica
Gliss, 9PM @ Spaceland, Silverlake
Drop Dead Gorgeous, 9PM @ The El Rey, Los Angeles
Suicidal Tendencies, 9PM @ Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood
Cobalt Cranes, 10PM @ L'Keg Gallery, Echo Park
DJ Quik, 9PM @ The Key Club, Hollywood
East Conference Champs, 9PM @ The Scene Bar, Glendale
Tonight's show left me wondering if I'm going to one day brag about seeing it. "I was at her first ever U.S. concert," I might say. "Really!?!" someone will reply with envy in their eyes. It's not that Zee Avi is going to be the biggest act in the world, or sell 100 million records. It's that I was in the presence of talent, the kind that people are born with, like some kind of cosmic gift.
It's very hard to tell how old Zee Avi is. Her petite frame would fit a teenager, but her presence and lyrics betray her as someone much more worldly and wise. As she arrived on stage, she announced, in a perfect American English accent that she was from Malaysia, and that this was, indeed, her first U.S. concert ever. And for a couple of moments I wondered, "who is this girl? Why does she speak English so well? How old is she?" But all that passed as she opened up her mouth and let her voice ring out. The setting was very simple: a good looking drummer, a quirky but funny bassist sitting in front of a slide guitar, and Zee Avi in front, sitting down with guitar in hand. The band was the candle, and her voice the flame. Even and smooth, creamy and soulful. Like crème brulee, it was the perfect dessert for our ears. Her jazzy sound was rich, something to be savored. The music was simple, acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and some drums during most of the songs, but not all. The drummer also performed a killer whistling solo that brought admiration and applause from the audience.
Her ten-song set included two covers, Interpol's "Slow Hands," and Morrissey's "First of the Gang to Die." It was great to actually hear the lyrics of "Slow Hands," as Zee Avi rooted out the bitterness of their meaning. Her originals were also great, filled with clever rhymes that gave weight to her concepts. Other highlights included mid-song instructions to her band, obviously borrowed from her blues and rock influences, which gave an impression of freedom and improvisation to the show.
Zee Avi closed the show with the ukulele number "Just You and Me," one of her original songs. And then she said goodnight and sadly the show was done, much too soon for my liking. Just like the perfect dessert, I wanted a little more, but then again that's what makes it all so good. Fortunately this is not the last we've heard of miss Zee Avi, she will be back later this month to play a show at Hotel Café, and I recommend everyone to check her out.
These are our picks for the week of 3/16. Tell your friends about us. We have made some cool changes to Loudvine.com, with our unique MP3 Player now "live" on the homepage.
Now you get to listen to bunch of bands you probably would not have found on your own and we started to insert cool MP3's from sick bands into the Blog as well.
Voices Voices -3/16, 9PM @ The Echo, Echo Park
Black Tongued Bells - 3/16, 9M @ The Scene Bar, Glendale
Bo Beep - 3/16, 10PM @ Bordello, Los Angeles
And You Will Know us By The Trail of Dead - 3/17, 9PM @ Echoplex, Echo Park
Sucker for Pumps - 3/18, 9PM @ Troubadour, West Hollywood
Atlantic Records Music Showcase -3/21, 8PM @ Aqua Lounge, Beverly Hills
James & The Animals -3/20, 10PM @ L'Keg, Echo Park
Black Apples -3/19, 9 PM @ Silverlake Lounge, Silverlake
The Addicts with The Dickies -3/20, 9PM @ The Roxy, Hollywood
The Switchups - 3/22, 9 PM @ Alex's, Long Beach
Larry Brown Memorial Concert - 3/22, 8 PM @ McCabes, Santa Monica
Anthony B -3/18 @ The Echoplex, Echo Park
The Soul of John Black -3/20, 8PM @ Hotel Café, Hollywood
Tuck & Patti -3/20, 8PM @ Catalina's, Hollywood
Ok, for the non hipster part of our site...this is all I am going to say...give yourself a shot of pure voluminous and incredible music and go see these guys.
And I am speaking of Le Switch. Accompanied by the sheer talent and power that is this five piece(complete with girl trumpeter), these east sidaz' are actually known to play all around town. Good music travels and Le Switch is worth getting in the car to go see. And live they just don't disappoint. Their next show in LA is at The Echo on March 29th. Give yourself a treat and experience it for yourself.
When I told my friends I was going to be seeing Gram Rabbit at the Echo last night, they had some very important words of advice: Find a pair of Bunny Ears, put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to join the Cult of the Rabbit. This band doesn't just play music, they take you to a dance party in Wonderland. Tripper, weird, and yes, wonderful, Gram Rabbit are a musical tilt-a-whirl you have to see live to really get.
Don't see this band with any expectations of "sense" or "logic". Gram Rabbit are space-cowboy electropop on acid. Jessica "Von Rabbit" was dressed like a 1950's pinup cowgirl and provided sexy, Lolita-esque vocals (when she wasn't on keyboard or guitar). Todd Rutherford was less dressed up, but what he lacked in theatricality he made up for in talent as he alternated between various instruments in addition to his deep cowboy-man vocals.
Melancholy acoustic songs were thrown in with sonic acoustic beats. They have songs about cowboys versus aliens, the devil's playground, and dancing the bunny hop. It was sexy, funky, and dancy. Over the course of the evening, they covered Siouxsie and the Banshees AND Black Sabbath. They sampled clips about mescaline from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" then projected distorted pictures of OJ Simpson during a chorus that went "I say I kill." Gram Rabbit are an intentionally trippy band (they are from Joshua Tree after all). They were all about messing with the audience's head.
They didn't just rely on trippy projections. Oh no. The band had their own performance artist whose sole job was to dress in ridiculous costumes and create drug-addled awesomeness. Sometimes this nameless creature would be a Space-Vixen shooting from a bubble gun or a bobble-headed geisha girl throwing bunny ears into the audience. Finally, she appeared as a supreme, baroque White Rabbit. Sporting a huge Marie-Antoinette wig and scary, porcelain bunny-masque, she infiltrated the crowd and adorned individuals with bunny ears. I made it my mission to follow her with my camera until I realized, "Oh Shit! I'm chasing the white rabbit!"
And yes, they did cover Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit. Their funky, electro version got the crowd so excited that I was finally convinced to join the Cult of the Rabbit. I found a pair of bunny ears and danced along. So, as the song goes: "Remember what the dormouse said, Feed your head." Feed your head with Gram Rabbit, dance your way to Wonderland, and find a pair of bunny ears. You'll be seduced by this sexy, crazy, surreal band too.
If you were to eat a tray of cupcakes covered in rainbow sprinkles and Prozac-laced vanilla frosting, you still wouldn't be as happy and energetic as Castledoor. Last night at the Echo, this new wavey, synthy, bubble-gum pop-indie band got everyone dancing. Over the course of their 40 minute set, they were distilled clap-your-hands-then-wave-them-in-the-air-like-you-just-don't-care. It was ultra soppy, but a really good time too.
First of all, I have to get one really important fact out of the way. Lead Singer Nate Cole was really, really hot. He had Brad Pitt good looks and mad singing skills. We was also one of the most animated indie singers I've seen around town (aren't they supposed to be all ice-cool and ironic?). And I'm sure Cole has more than a few groupies. One girl in the crowd was so enthusiastic, she was practically doing interpretive dances to all of the songs. Some girls were even yelling at Cole to, "TAKE IT OFF!!!!! WOO!!!"
Groupies and good looks aside, the music was especially fun. Liska Cole and Coury Jane Combs looked like authentic Electro-Girls on dueling keyboards and synths (that is, when Liska Cole wasn't on her twinkly xylephone). Drummer Joel Plotnik and bassist Brandon Schwartzel added gypsy-wedding-rhythms to the music. It was so fitting that the entire set was bathed in bubble-gum pink stage lights. Nate Cole sang songs about burning maps and placing pennies on train tracks. But just when I thought the ultra-saccharine sounds were verging on too commercial, Cole introduced the last song: "To all the record execs out there... Fuck you all!!!! Yeah!" Castledoor were completely sincere towards their indie fans.
If you're looking for drone, doom, or wallow music, Castledoor isn't it. They're the sort of band you sing along to at the top of your lungs when you're drunk with your friends. They songs pick you up as a guilty pleasure because they're just so damn catchy. But hey, cupcakes are fattening and Prozac has all those weird side-effects. I'll choose Castledoor any day.
Buried deep in the heart of downtown is a pirate-themed bar. That's right, The Redwood Bar and Grill is the real deal: anchors, fake skeletons, and wooden ship-masts line the walls. There were even a few guys dressed for the occasion. Pretty weird place to see a groovy psychedelic rock band, right? Well, that's what I was doing last night. I was there to see The Upsidedown, and they didn't disappoint.
I admit I was a little skeptical at first. LA Scenesters flock to noisy psych rock like fat kids to cupcakes. And yeah, there were a few (I couldn't decide if the guy on my right was an Anton Newcombe-wannabe, or actually Anton Newcombe). But the second TheUpsidedown started, I knew it was going to be a good show. Guitarist Matt Moore gave a piercing screech followed by, "We just wanted to let you know we were primal, and shit. Ha!"
Jsun Atoms started crooning with his extra-deep baritone, "You drive me bananas, You drive me up the wall." Tristan Evans was ultra smooth on her bass and would add dreamy, melodic vocals while walls of distortion echoed on. TheUpsidedown certainly knew shoegaze sounds. But they were far more dynamic than (sorry) boring-shoegaze-sway music. They had energy, too. And her name was Sarah Jane. On keyboards and tambourine, Jane provided rhythm and (literal) bounce to all the songs. She'd twirl and manage high kicks when she wasn't old-school go-go dancing.
I wasn't sure if I should've been drinking beer or some sort of electric kool-aid. Then again, it was a pirate bar, so maybe I should have had a bottle of rum and a parrot. Either way, The Upsidedown offered a great set. There were moments to sway and moments to dance. There were stripped down sounds direct from 1968 and sonic electronic beats for right here, right now. Whether you're a Scenester, pirate, or just a normal human being, check out TheUpsidedown .