ShowsAroundTown: Weekend In Review

Photo By John Ehret

I haven’t been going to as many shows as I used to, but I’ve been trying to hit up the ones that offer new fodder to my coffer as much as possible. This past weekend I hit back to back shows on Friday and Saturday that were both truly great experiences. One thing I noticed is that I learn more about new bands I’d be interested in by investing a few hours each weekend night at shows just through great conversation with likeminded wonderful people in between sets than I do spending an entire day on the net. I am certainly more inspired when someone excitedly mentions a band and three others chime in about how much I would dig them than reading a post or receiving an email. Sometimes I meet someone in a band that describes their sound with a certain passion that they are instantly on my radar. I guess I’d rather do it that way, I’d rather follow the rabbit down the hole and let the sound lead me from band to band and that, was the theme of the weekend. Seeking out new sounds. This is also why it is imperative that I catch the whole show, catch the opening bands, because there is bound to be found a gem amidst the rubble. This weekend I found nothing but gems, my friends.

Friday, January 31st- Last Exit Live: Future Loves Past/B.O.T.S./Webs/The Vanjacks

There were four reasons I was going to this show come hell or high water: The Vanjacks haven’t played in two years, I’d never heard or seen Webs, I just reviewed B.O.T.S. for JAVA and couldn’t wait to hear them through Last Exit Live’s sound system, and it was something of a farewell show for my dear friends Future Loves Past. This evening was clearly an imperative. The only unfortunate thing was that I worked until 8:30, then had to slam over to LEL to catch as much of The Vanjacks as I could. I got there about three or four songs into their set, which according to their overwhelming number of fans were the best and finest they’ve ever played. I was told this again and again as I conversed with frontman Ben Tietgen. At least I got to see half the set and I will agree with their crowd, it was the best they ever played, plus they had a new drummer, Ethan Hillis (Ladylike) who just brought the whole damn thing together perfectly. The amazing thing is that after two years of hibernation, hell I had practically written them off, they came out guns blazing with an entirely new set of songs, save for two. I loved the new stuff, especially the incredibly aggressive “Time Bomb” but I was glad they fit in one of my favorites from their album Seven of Everyone, “Over, Wait” and still I was chilled by the refrain “No atheists in foxholes.” It was a brilliant return and they promised many more shows in the near future.

Next up was Webs, wow Webs, I know I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I’d rather be late than not show up at all. When I heard their named bandied about in the previous year, I immediately imagined a psychedelic garage band perfectly honed in the image if The Seeds, The Sonics or The Count Five, I’m not sure why. You know what I got? A psychedelic garage band perfectly honed in the image if The Seeds, The Sonics or The Count Five. Each band that followed them made mention of how great they were and it was in a ”wow, holy fuck, what was that” sort of way. It made me feel that I was clearly not wrong in my instant adoration and practical psychotic reaction to their sound and performance. Webs rocked and I was standing with most of Futures Love Past entranced by their raging power trio rock, that echoed as much 60s aesthetic as modern indie perfection at once. Aside from dancing, I’m not sure that I moved once from my jaw dropped place in front of the stage. I can’t wait to see them again or what they do in the remaining months of this year. Simply amazing.

I was fresh off the influence of reviewing B.O.T.S. for the February issue of JAVA and I had seen them a few times at Long Wong’s (before the new sound system), but nothing can compare to catching these cats at Last Exit Live and seeing them at their absolute best. Their music has this hypnotic quality about it that brings sunshine and smiles everywhere it goes, I’m not sure how to even describe it, but I know I saw a bunch of people unaware of their musical prowess succumb to their power and become immediate fans. It was nice to see. What really rushed me in this setting was the vocals of Angel Martinez, maybe it was just the mix that night, but I was goddamned hypnotized by his vox. Don’t get me wrong the keyboards/orchestrations provided by Vaughn were amazing, as was the rhythm duo of Charlie and Josh, but even in listening to their recordings I was never so affected by the beauty of the vocals in their music.

Photo by John Ehret

Finally, it was time for Future Loves Past to take the stage. It was a bittersweet moment. Sure, I know they will be playing the Yucca on February 28th and probably a show a month here after that, but still it was a momentous occasion as Tristan Dede even announced that he would be moving to LA the next morning, with Eric Palmer not far behind. It seems like only yesterday that I was partying with them in a friends kitchen after an Indias show talking about renaming and retooling the band. They played their best, their hardest and loudest I’ve seen in a while–it was all of the best from All The Luscious Plants and highlights from the forthcoming Our Solar System, it was a perfect send off set, without a doubt. I don’t realy need to rehash the set list, you know it if you were there, and if you weren’t you can imagine it. The encore finale of “Voyager” was both brilliant and prescient. I danced my ass off and embedded my soul in their sound, knowing that the occasions to do so would grow increasingly rare. I hope they find an audience in LA that adores them as much as their homefront friends and fans do, because this music should be shared around the world and, perhaps the solar system. The highlight for me was the addition of trumpet by Danny Torgersen and saxophone by Mike Hennessey–that was the icing on the cake that made the evening magical.

Photos by Yvette Adams

Saturday, February 1st-Rogue Bar: Genre/Sister Lip/Watch For Rocks/Echolalia

Saturday at the Rogue was another must see show for similar reasons now that I think about it. I had never seen Echolalia, I had never seen Watch For Rocks (which apparently everyone else in the world has seen), I always love a performance by Sister Lip and I hadn’t seen Genre in two years. Plus, this was Genre’s EP release party and I had just finished reviewing that six track little gem for the February JAVA and loved it, so I knew it was going to be a good night. The only bad thing was that I saw the event started at 8pm and I foolishly thought it would really start at 8pm. It did not. On the upswing, I got to sit around with Dan Tripp and talk about music, strange dreams, Aliens who wanted our pizza, forthcoming Field Tripp releases and learn that he is a much better pool player than I am.

At 9pm, Echolalia took the stage and damn did those songs sound familiar. I recognized the songwriting immediately and couldn’t place it. It turns out that Echolalia is Tim Allyn plugging his acoustic into an amp with a drummer. I’ve seen Tim countless times at Long Wong’s and elsewhere and realized why the songwriting sounded so familiar. It was a great set and I really liked the acoustic guitar meets drum set bit. Later I advised Tim that he really needed to lay down some of those tracks on a record, because they are really great songs. Watch For Rocks was up next and although I was aware of their existence, I had never had the chance to catch them live before. Apparently this six piece band is composed entirely of geologists, which is a stunning fact that claims responsibility for their clever name and their sound is amazing. I was thrilled that they have an EP on bandcamp I could listen to immediately after the show and I hope that they press for more recordings this year. At this point the crowd was getting around to dancing and my the time the magnificent “Party On Pluto” was played the crowd was in something of a frenzy. If you haven’t heard it, get to their bandcamp and play, then play it again, than dance a bit–one of the best all out fun pop songs I’ve heard in a while.

It was finally time for Genre to take the stage. Now the last time I saw Genre, they were a four piece, two years on they’ve been pared down to Zac Markey and Corey Gomez. I had watched them soundcheck (remember, I got there at 8pm-no regrets), so I was interested to see how it would all play out. It works like this, Corey plays keys and smiles a lot, while Zac plays guitar and programs his laptop with beats and samples and other wonderments, and they both sing. I had seen this action for the first time when they played the Beatles tribute night, but now I got to hear their music, specifically their new EP Scrape Your Voices on the Stars. They played far more than their EP and I suspect that they probably have enough material for another one in store. Their performance was brilliant and if I had to choose a highlight I’d be hardpressed between “Cat Problems” (joined by Dan Tripp on stage) or one of my favorite songs of the year so far, “Eastcoast Sunshine Blues.” I was really super impressed by Genre on Saturday night, I can’t wait to see what more they have in store for us in the coming year.

The evening concluded with a sizzling performance by Sister Lip and it was a hell of a way to end the night right. I had just finished writing about their acoustic album and it was a hell of a contrast to hear these songs live and electrified. It was also one of the longest sets of the night and the crowd just ate it up. Their cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put A Spell On You” had never sounded finer, “Hello Sir,” “Bedhead”, “Sex Song” were all highlights as they rocked out the albums worth of music. Kalen Lander on TKLB? jumped up on stage for an inspired performance, which I did not expect, but I hope that gets recorded in some capacity. They finished with their now classic “Mona Grona.” Everyone was in top form.

Also, between the sets I got to learn about more bands I have never heard including Bad Neighbors (who play tonight at Rogue starting aroung 8:30 or 9) and Villains who I can’t wait to catch February 25th at The Rogue with Fairy Bones and Sons of Hippies! There was much more excited conversation about other music and other projects, but I’ll keep quiet about those for now. Needless to say, it was a fabulous weekend of exploring new sounds around town, at least new sounds for me.