After some time in San Francisco, Notes from Vivace is back to spending his nights catching the music at local Los Angeles venues.
The Echo was going punk on a Friday night. NASA Space Universe started it off. I arrived in the middle of their set – delayed as I circled around and around, trying to find a perfect parking spot. While I was there, the lead singer spent no time on the stage. Okay, he spent perhaps one second on stage. I was standing next to the stage steps when the lead singer whipped past me, up the steps to the stage and then jumped onto the floor. My first awareness that he was running past me was the wind generated from his supersonic speed. I didn’t even see him really until I saw a body leaping off the stage. I am surprised he didn’t (more…)
Three bands that I love playing on the same night. What are the chances of that happening? (Okay, maybe it isn’t that rare of an event, but it does provide a reason to write a post on Intraffik!) That’s what happened on a recent Monday night at The Echo when Black Flamingo and Raw Geronimo shared the stage with the March residency band NO.
I ran across both Black Flamingo and Raw Geronimo last year. I caught Black Flamingo at Silver Lake Jubilee. Raw Geronimo was a chance encounter. I was at The Standard in Downtown Los Angeles to support a friend’s poetry reading. Afterwards, a group of us headed up to the rooftop where Raw Geronimo was getting ready to play a set. I also ran into our Intraffik editor who was there specifically to see Raw Geronimo. As for NO, I first heard about them last year when I read somewhere that they did a house show during the Sunset Junction cancelled weekend and that they drew a massive crowd. I didn’t get to catch one of their sets until this year, however.
Of the trio, Black Flamingo (pictured below)hit the stage first. Their music is layered with a gothic chanting sound that tempts you into believing you’re in an ancient London church, but in reality you’re being enchanted out in a dark forest.
Noticed after their set: I believe Black Flamingo must hold the record for quickest clean-up after finishing a set at The Echo.
Comment of the night: “Make sure you stick around for Raw Geronimo. I’m a connoisseur of girl fronted bands.”
NO played the 11 p.m. slot. This band hasn’t been around for that long (two years, I believe), but I swear the front man and the whole band in general plays with unbelievable confidence and poise. When lead singer Bradley stepped out onto those speakers that line the front of the stage, you couldn’t help but feel drawn to him. As for their sound, it demands your attention.
NO (pictured above) had a number of special guests for the night. A violinist. The Echo Park Community Choir. There was also a toy accordion that briefly held the spotlight. The place was packed with folks having to stand on top of the benches that line the back walls.
Raw Geronimo closed out the night. Yes, way past my normal bedtime during a school night, but they did represent the last of the trio and there was no way I was going to miss their set. Their music is raw, just like their name implies. And for a photographer like me, they’re a dream. Laena, the lead singer, is the ultimate contortionist. Who knows what she’ll do next. It is a fun challenge trying to guess how to best capture her. It doesn’t really matter if I am only able to capture one or two good photos of her. What matters is the challenge of trying to capture her in the camera frame.
*thanks to The Echo for having these three bands.
Spring has hit L.A. and with Spring comes the return of the GRAND OLE ECHO (“GOE”) at the Echo (http://attheeacho.com). Welcoming it’s seventh year, the Grand Ole Echo is the Spring and Summer long friendship-sparking Americana, Alt-Country, Bluegrass, and Country (not to mention beer,whiskey, and pizza) filled afternoon “down home style” shows doubling as “congregations” of sorts for the individuals (fans, artists, and musicians alike) that comprise the L.A. and surrounding areas of these musical genres.
Kim Grant (owner of KG Music Press and one of the GOE original and current producers in collaboration with the Echo’s Liz Garo) and Justin Smith (drummer of Old Californio) recently came into the KITR – InTraffikRadio studio and along with Special Guest Jennifer Gibbons gave us the low-down on this year’s line-ups, how the GOE originated, what to expect for those who’ve never been to one of these shows, etc.
This episode featured music from:
Mark Lennon – “Before the Fall”
Michael and the Playboys - “Last of the Honky Tonks”
Whispering Pines – “Come and Play”
The Far West – “Either Drunk and Cold”
Old Californio - “Jewels and the Dross”
Marvin Etzioni featuring Maria McKee - “You Possess Me”
Damngivers – “Plan on Me”
Cliff Wagner and the Old #7’s – “I Miss You”
Brian Spence and the Transcendent Hula Hoop – “Call Me Down” (unannounced but played after Cliff Wagner’s track)
GRAND OLE ECHO SCHEDULE (all shows start at 5pm):
(visit http://kgmusicpress.com/thegrandoleecho.cfm for latest updates and rest of schedule)
April 15: Jeremy Little, Nearly Beloved, Old Californio/ Backporch: Walter Spencer and Friends
April 22: The Sunshine Brothers, Jennifer Gibbons, The Far West/ Backporch: Cliff Wagner’s Old #7
April 29: Loves It (from Austin), Christopher Lockett, The Fur Traders (record release party)
May 6: Angela Bruyere, Brian Spence and the Transcendant Hula Hoop, Grant Langston & The Supermodels/ Backporch: Hot Club de LA
May 13: Ben Redell, Stephen David Austin, Wheelhouse/Backporch: The Earthworm Ensemble with Larry Santoyo
May 20: Guest Curator Julie Richmond (Carolina Chickadee) with some bands from Texas and The Swamp Coolers on the backporch!
May 27: No Show: Memorial Day…go and get yourself to a BBQ!
June 3: Skyline Drive, Chris Shifflett and The Dead Peasants, Whispering Pines/Backporch: The Coals
I keep a shortlist of local bands that I’ve come across over the last two years that have really blown me away.
On a recent Thursday night at The Echo two of them shared the stage: The Lonely Wild and He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister. Lonely Wild’s songs are filled with beautifully constructed melodies. As for He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, the band members play with such joy that you can’t help but enjoy their set. Also playing was Bad Weather California, a barefooted punk influenced band (you’d think a band with this name comes from California, but they are from Colorado).
The Lonely Wild (pictured left below) started it off. Highlight of their set has to be the moment when two trumpets made an appearance. I just love trumpets. Bad Weather California (pictured center below) hit the stage next with my noticed moment being when the lead singer kicked off one of his shoes and spent a few moments walking around with one shoe on and the other off. Why did I notice that? Because when I’m in a situation like that I feel like I’m about to topple over. He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister (pictured right below) headlined the night. From what I could see, The Echo was packed when they hit the stage. A handful of folks were standing on the wall seats that line the back of the floor. They played a 13 song set along with a demanded encore.
Did I leave The Echo with the proverbial spring in mystep? You bet.
All three of them will be tap dancing their way into SXSW this week.
I make a point to support bands when they tour. Part of me feels like it’s out of torrential guilt (see what i did there?) and part of me says it’s simply good karma. I have my limits though. I will not drop $60 to go see Tears for Fears at the Wiltern like some people, but if the price is right I’ll go anywhere in LA to see some good young upstarts. I used to panic at the thought of traveling out of the West Side bubble for shows downtown but I’ve learned to put that past me with the help of google maps, my iphone, and my garmin. Yep I roll three deep when I’m behind the wheel. I’d be the worst teammate in the history of the Amazing Race. By the time you read this, I’ll have seen yesterday’s recommendation, Titus Andronicus @ The Bootleg for $10, and tonight I’ll be seeing three more bands which happen to be today’s recommended albums. For a mere $8 so can you. You won’t find a better music deal anywhere….besides on the drops where you get non-stop free stuff…but you know what I mean. Where else can you see three solid bands for roughly the cost of an Apple Pan burger and a coke?
….and this show is upstairs at the Echo…not down in the god forsaken sweat-box that is the Echoplex basement.
Freelance Whales - Weathervanes
I’d suggest listening to the album before you delve into the venomous Pitchfork review by the oft angry Ian Cohen. He manages to compare them to both Owl City (directly) and Nickelback (indirectly). As if that wasn’t bad enough he adds insult to injury by giving their genre of sound the most cutesy and condescending name that one jaded and cynical smug hipster can come up with: “Nick & Norah-core.” All this review made me want to do is get to the Echo on time for their set and hope that they can prove Cohen wrong.
These Brooklyn synth rockers somehow manged to succeed where the Freelance Whales failed…at least in the eyes of Pitchfork. Beast Rest Forth Mouth, received the “Best New Music” award from Pitchfork Media, with the reviewer (not Ian Cohen) stating: “Beast Rest Forth Mouth is as familiar-feeling as it is difficult to pinpoint. BRFM is a welcome reminder that an album doesn’t have to be bombastic to feel huge and important. Take out the earbuds and let it fill a space: This is music that’s bigger than your iPod—music you’ll want to feel all around you. Though not quite coming out of nowhere, BRFM seems like a surprise gift—a striking consolidation of the spiky psych-prog tendencies of their debut into a pop framework.” Quite a change in tone from the previous smear job. I think they gave the band some handjobs to go along with that 8.4.
Another “Best New Music” winner according to Pitchfork. Maybe they aren’t as jaded and cynical as I previously thought. This album scored an 8.3…and that was coming from Ian Cohen!. An 8.3 from that guy is like a 10 from everyone else. This album is full of whammies, fuzz, and crashing crescendos. For a minute I felt like I was listening to a slightly less haphazard At the Drive In. Who knew Staten Island, or as I like to call it “Shaolin”, could rock so hard.
Go see all three acts together when they hit your neck of the woods
03-24 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
03-25 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
03-27 Portland, OR – Berbati’s Pan
03-29 Vancouver, British Columbia – The Biltmore Cabaret
03-31 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
04-01 Denver, CO – Hi Dive
04-02 Lawrence, KS – Replay Lounge
04-03 Saint Paul, MN – Turf Club
04-04 Chicago, IL – Schubas Tavern
04-06 Toronto, Ontario – El Mocambo
04-07 Montreal, Quebec – Il Motore
04-08 Cambridge, MA – Middle East Downstairs
04-09 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
Going from funky car chase music to Al Green soul crooning The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band’s self titled album is a scatter shot ode to all things 70’s. However giving so much attention to the Me Decade wasn’t enough for this band. They went further down the time line to 1981 and channeled their inner Blondie circa “Rapture” with “15 to 20″ thanks to a guest vocals assist from Lady Tigra. Fault me if you will but I’m going to pigeonhole Blondie and that sound to the 70’s as well. It just wraps things in a nice neat bow…and calling Blondie’s “Rapture” an 80’s song just doesn’t seem right to me. That track was covered in more coke and polyester than a Brady Bunch wrap party.
LA, if you have nothing to do and have $10 to spare they’re playing the Echo tonight. It’ll be worth the price of admission to see how this eight piece ensemble (9 with Lady Tigra) plan on fitting on the Echo’s tiny stage.
Highlights: “Baby,” “15 to 20,” “The Martyr, You’ll Disappear