Archive for the ‘live and direct’ Category

Big Lovin’ Panda @ Club Good Hurt

November 28, 2009

Written By: Natalie Hamingson
Photos By: Karen Curley

View all of Karen’s Big Lovin’ Panda Photos here.

Big Lovin Panda Dose Out the Tunes at Club Good Hurt’s “Medicinal Mondays”

After funk pop-rock band Big Lovin’ Panda’s November 23rd show at Culver City’s Club Good Hurt, front man Alex Schneiderman remarked that it wasn’t one of their best performances, but I never would have guessed that the band’s impressive set was actually an off night for them.

So far this year, the Los Angeles band has enjoyed residencies at the Good Hurt for “Medicinal Mondays,” featuring Emilee Wilson’s Vertigirls, a non-stripping pole dancer troupe, and at the Unknown Theater in Hollywood, which will host the band’s release show on December 12th for their upcoming seven song EP, “Trinkets.”

The group started between guitarist Tony Ferrara and bassist Tal Weinman. Their name is the result of a misheard “otherwise unpronounceable intimate gesture” described by Tal to Tony over loud speakers at a concert. (When Tal clarified that “Big Lovin Panda” was not what he had said, Tony responded, “Either way, I want you to go home and do the big lovin panda, and report back to me tomorrow. “) Alex, who pays the bills by working as an audio engineer at The Roxy Theatre, was added to the mix in 2008. In 2009, Tony’s college buddy from USC, Sean Whalen was recruited on drums.

Big Lovin Panda is completely self-promoted and distributed, and Alex, says they want to keep it that way. On the band’s reverbnation.com page, they describe their sound as “Disco blasting out of the rolled down windows of a hearse raised on monster truck wheels, with just married cans clanging melodically behind.”

While songs on the band’s MySpace playlist, such as “Change of Pace” don’t especially standout over computer speakers, their live songs sound like what radio should be playing. Tal’s funky bass lines make for groove-tastic music, accompanied by Alex’s vocals, which are sort of Brandon Boyd-esque when he’s not occasionally screaming.

Thus far, all of their material has been dispensed online. As I alluded to before, the songs available now do not do justice to Big Lovin Panda’s talent. Luckily, the sound on recent mixes of “Trinkets” pops much more than the compressed MySpace tracks.

Aside from being musically in tune with each other, the sharply dressed band was also stylistically in synch. Later that night, drummer Sean Whalen joked that the band’s two month business plan was to buy boots with funds earned from the EP, when photographer Karen Curley noted how well coordinated the band was.

Between songs, Alex held pole dancer roll call, as he announced each dancer’s arrival to the stage (“It’s Tiffany Time!”). Though Big Lovin’ Panda are fun to watch onstage, I have to admit it was sometimes difficult to keep my eyes on the band, with lingerie clad women performing incredible gymnastic feats in three-to-six inch platform heels off to the side.

The band will hit the road next spring, starting on the West Coast, and hopefully ending in Austin, Texas, where the band wish to play South by Southwest. Though the band is still waiting to hear if they are accepted, Texas native Sean says they may show up for the festivities, even if they aren’t formally invited.

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Fanfarlo in PDX

November 28, 2009

Written By: Chris Young

Sometimes you forget just how good live music can sound. Crisp horns, whispering strings, and even clanking watering cans.

When about halfway though Fanfarlo’s set, you have a “Wow!” moment. And you look around the Doug Fir to the rest of the 20 and 30-somethings tapping along, smiling blissfully. They’re thinking exactly the same thing.

On Fanfarlo’s first jaunt to PDX, they got their van broken into but that didn’t subdue their set. Rather, they took the stage as a trio with a mandolin, guitar and drums to gently strum into the calming darkness.

Then the white Xmas lights were flipped and the band became six, complete with sleek harmonization and a lone horner on “I’m A Pilot.” Percussionist Amos Memon delicately generated rolling thunder on the cymbals with his white-tipped mallets while multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas twanged a hand saw along with her performance of lullaby oooh-ooooh vocals and on the violin, guitar, and keys.

With a foot stomping, a cappella opening to “The Walls Are Coming Down,” Fanfarlo produced a tight, precise sound that was perfumed by the whiskey drifting from my neighbor’s plastic Dixie cup.

Trumpeter Leon Beckenham also picked up the world’s smallest, red tambourine while co-lead singer Simon Balthazar snatched as many instruments as he could including a clarinet towards the end of the set.

The London sextet appeared very prim and proper, more like proper-hip, onstage building up to a super-synthy rendition of “Luna” with a calming interlude where Beckenham swapped his horn for a melodica to close the night.

New York’s Freelance Whales opened the night with Jónsi-style bowing of the guitar strings and xylophone chimes. Banjos strummed. Electro-inclined synths chirruped. And all five members blended vocals into indubitable, indie pop.

Foggy echoes of drawn out moans and aaaahhs floated around portable harmonium pumps and the bow was employed on something that looked like a cross between a birdcage-hamster wheel-giant whisk, but turned out to be a waterphone. Obviously.

Freelance Whales even beat a tin watering can in a “Do-Re-Mi”-esque jam leaving behind a serene, familial vibe.


Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Fanfarlo
Freelance Whales
Doug Fir Lounge

Dir En Grey @ The House Of Blues

November 28, 2009

Article and Photos By: Mehra B.

View all of Mehra’s Dir En Grey photos here.

Anytime Dir En Grey plays North America is a monumental event. Most acts from overseas that try to crossover into international markets have about as successful music careers as Macho Man Randy Savage (yes, he made a record). But Dir en Grey, a progressive/metal band that got its start in Japan’s visual Kei movement of the 90’s, has managed to avoid the same ill-fated mistakes of other crossover acts like Japan’s Hikaru Utada, and Korean pop sensation BoA.

On Sunday, November 22nd, fans lined up outside the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles and waited two and a half hours for the show to begin. No opening acts, no time fillers–just Dir en Grey, and Dir en Grey fans. As the curtain opened and the band took the stage, the crowd cheered “Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!” – what’s known as the “GDS chant” to DEG fans.

The band opened the show with the deep bass of “Obscure,” and by the third song, the crowd had almost completely pushed the barricade to the stage. Fans were treated to a set of about 14 songs, with the first half being mostly songs from their first and third records (Gauze and Kisou), and the second half of the set being dominated by their newer and heavier material. “Bottom of Death Valley” and the five song encore that kicked off with “Akuro no Oka” and ended with the “IID Empire” were the highlights of the show.

With a vocal range and ability that could make even Mariah Carey look like an amateur, singer Kyo’s voice was on point throughout the entire performance; hitting every high note, screech, growl, and sound unknown to mankind perfectly. However, missing from his performance was the inclusion of his infamous stage antics of vomiting and self-mutilation. Nonetheless, the band put on a solid show, that had every person in the venue pumping their fists, singing along, or putting up metal horns. Even the 50-something-year-old woman standing next to me was rocking her hips and taking pictures on her mobile phone.

The audience was a healthy mix of culturally diverse fans who–for the most part–seemed to be long-term devotees, with the Hot Topic kinder-goth crowd almost completely absent. At the end of the encore, the band members took to the stage one by one to bow to and applaud the fans; throwing out bags of guitar picks, drum sticks, and bottled waters. Attendees who purchased the band’s new release Uroboros CD/DVD were also treated to a full band meet-and-greet after the show.

The intimate setting, common thread among fans, and mutual appreciation between band and fans provided for an incredibly personal and outstanding music experience which I have never witnessed by a band of such stature, and wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future. Note to American bands: Dir en Grey is giving you a run for your money.

Thanks to Amy @ The End Records for making this review and accompanying photos possible.

Snoop Dogg @ Club Nokia 11/19/09

November 23, 2009

Written By: Jim Markunas
(Editor-In-Chief)

Photos By: Ed Hannigan

View all of Ed’s Snoop Dogg photos here.

If you’re not a fan of Snoop Dogg, you truly lack any sense of taste, musical knowledge, or history. Trust me, I know these things; I’m the editor of a magazine. Personally, I’m a long-time fan of Snoop (so is my mother).

Doggystyle was the very first album (tape, actually) that I ever owned. One of the kids in my 4th grade class gave it to me after his mother caught him listening to it, and informed him that his taste in uber-classic West Coast Gangsta shit was inappropriate for a 10-year-old. But was it? At 9-and-a-half years old, I didn’t think so! I would sit in my room for hours listening to Snoop’s first solo record. I often went to bed listening to the tape. I used to fast-forward past “Lodi Dodi,” because it wasn’t a very good song, and “Serial Killer” because it scared me; after all, I was only 9. I’d even go as far as to say that Doggystyle helped shape me into the distinguished young man that I am today.

One day, like and idiot, I managed to get my copy of the tape confiscated. My mom and I had been driving home from summer camp when I suddenly asked, “Mom, what does ‘nigga’ mean?”

I had never heard that particular word before (before Doggystyle that is), and was genuinely confused about its meaning. A look of absolute disgust and horror overtook my mother’s face as she slammed on the breaks and yelled, “Where did you learn that word?!?! At Camp?!?!”

“No,” I replied, “I heard Snoop say it… numerous times.”

“Snoopy? The Peanuts character? That doesn’t make any sense!”

“No! Snoop Dogg!”

“Who’s Snoop Dogg?”

“The best rapper ever!”

When we got home, I showed her the tape. Remember the cartoon/comic strip that made up the cover art for Doggystyle? It chronicled a typical day in the life of my Uncle Snoop, that involved getting high on Hocus Pocus (stress, cess, or ‘bad weed’), brandishing several handguns at neighbors (everyone in the comic was depicted as half dog, half man, mind you) and ended with Snoop getting it on with a bitch (literally, a female dog… or half woman, half dog) from the back. Well… When my mother saw all of that, she was horrified. Non-sequitur: What the fuck was up with MC Hammer’s “Pumps and a Bump?” Anyone remember that? That was WAY more horrifying!

Anyhow, she took the tape… and started listening to it herself. A few days later, we were driving in the car, and I decided to turn on the radio; Doggystyle came blaring out of the speakers. Yes… I caught my hypocritical mother listening to Snoop Dogg. She gave me an embarrassed look and said, “You were right, he is the best rapper ever.” She gave me back the tape, and the rest is history.

About Snoop’s Club Nokia appearance… Unfortunately, Ice Cube, The Game and Kanye West are in a three-way tie for my personal best rapper ever award (bumping my Uncle Snoop Dogg down to 4th place just above Dr. Dre), but Snoop is hands-down THE best celebrity and performer I’ve ever seen! Again, if you don’t agree, you have no A&R skills (smiles).

I’m was feeling a little burned out this week, so when Snoop opened with “The Shiznit” with Tha Dogg Pound’s Daz and Kurupt as hype men, I nearly shat my pants with jubilant glee. Snoop strolled onto the stage wearing what can only be described as a ‘gang-flag jump suit’ (see pics), and brought the house down for a full two hours. After “Shiznit,” he immediately ripped into “Gin and Juice,” and from there The Dogg Pound broke into “Cali Iz Active.” The rest of the set was an awesometasticgansterfied blur (is that even a word?)

Snoop, and a gang of celebrity guest stars, including Daz, Kurupt, Xzibit, Lady of Rage, RBX, Butch Cassidy, and Too Short performed an eclectic set made up of songs from Doggystyle, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, DPG’s Cali Iz Active, R&G, Ego Trippin’, Tha Chronic 1 & 2, and various ‘guest star’ singles. Snoop skipped all the unknown stuff from his No Limit/Priority catalog, and it was the perfect set! No offense to EMI, I’m sure going forward, all of Snoop’s releases will continue to be gems. Seriously, Snoop is hot! He may have had a minor 10-year lull from 1996-2006 (excluding his 1999 performance on Chronic 2001), but nowadays, everything Snoop touches turns to gold (or platinum). Every solo album from Tha Blue Carpet Treatment until now, and any single Snoop lends guest vocals to is an instant classic – career-wise, Snoop’s on fire!

Snoop also performed two songs from the upcoming Malice In Wonderland, his first release under his new tenure with EMI/Capitol/Priority (do I have that right?). In addition to being a flagship artist, Snoop is also Priority’s creative director, and with this position may just bring back the West Coast for a third time (the second was when The Game released The Documentary).

I’m a full-fledged believer in Snoop Dogg, a hip-hop legend that’s more musically diverse than Cypress Hill, and more fun to watch than Richard Prior. My recommendation is to not only buy Malice N’ Wonderland when it comes out, but also to catch Snoop live, as he gives any live rock or rap group a run for their money. Uncle Snoopy, I give you an A+ for Thursday’s performance!

Other Highlights: Up-and-coming rapper Diamond Lane played a few songs, including the ultra-West Coast anthem, “I Wanna Get Fucked Up,” before DJ Quick took the stage. Quick hasn’t lost a step in his old age, and got the crowd riled up with his large back catalog of classic West Coast anthems.

The only West Coast celebrities that didn’t make an appearance were Cube, Dre, and The Game.

Essential Snoop Dogg Albums:
Tha Chronic (Dr. Dre)
Doggystyle
Chronic 2001 (Dr. Dre)
Cali Iz Active (Tha Dogg Pound/DPGC)
Tha Blue Carpet Treatment
Ego Trippin’
Death Row: The Lost Sessions Vol. 1
Malice N’ Wonderland

Hot Metal Porn Night @ Hustler Hollywood

November 23, 2009

Photos By: Karen Curley

View all of Karen’s Hustler HPMN photos here.

It’s Hot Metal Porn night at Hustler Hollywood where we explored the fusion of metal music and porn sexuality!

Jessica Tezier starred in the London West End production of Rent at the Shaftsbury Theatre. She went on to star, produce and direct in an avant-garde kinky movie called Chiuso. She’s outspoken in her attitudes towards sexuality. She’s fronted several London bar bands. She does a mean Marilyn Manson cover. She strips when she sings. She’s so hot I suggest you wear sunscreen. She was in L.A and came (no pun intended) to Hustler last Thursday for your pleasure. Don’t worry. We brought our cameras.

Musical guests for the evening were the Dysphemistic. They put the hard steel in metal combing porn novel prose with hardcore sonic thunder. It’s hundred decibel orgasms coming atchya with such classics as Ass To Mouth and No Means Maybe. Put them together with Jessica and you have a night sure to etch another legend into the Sunset Strip rock and roll mythos.

Shotgun Alley @ Key Club

November 20, 2009

Article and Photos By: A. Mac

View all of A. Mac’s Shotgun Alley photos here.

Sounds that echo decades past, and hip swivels that give Shakira a run for her money, Shotgun Alley can put on a show. Arriving at the Key Club I was not exactly sure what to expect… I had done my homework, checked out their Myspace, listened to a song or two but, as we all know, live performances and recordings are two different experiences. It happened to be my first time at the Key Club (I’m a L.A. newbie!) and I was pumped to have Shotgun Alley kick off the work week.

When Shotgun Alley took the stage lights were dim and people were quietly awaiting the first sound. The lights came up and instantly the band jumped into a foot tapping, hair swinging, hip thrusting, ROCK. The energy was intoxicating and the sound penetrating. Shotgun Alley formed in January of 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand. This 6 piece group cites 80s superstars Motley Crue and Alice Cooper.

In fact, they claim to share a bond with Cooper after supporting him on his “Theatre of Death” tour. With multiple instruments and voices their sound is raucous and loud. Rich and full of layers, guitar leads battle in harmony, keyboards swell and lead singer, R.J Kairua dances his ass off.

You’ve got to give it up to a New Zealand born band playing leather panted wank rock. They aren’t striving for Juilliard and the upper echelon’s of musical beauty. Their aspirations are pure. Instead, they’d rather American families out to dinner gawk over their glass bound, black leather jackets at Hard Rock Cafe. Wank rock! Bret Michaels! White jeans! And they know you love it.

I could see that they are not a band of misguided day-dreamers brandishing guitars but instead, a representation of an entire lifestyle. And it shows…from top to cowboy boot bottom, drawing a crowd ranging from typical hipster kids, to a handful of tweens, rocker dudes, and even a stripper or two. Their whole appeal is boisterous good times.

Matisyahu @ Horizon Records & The Handlebar

November 18, 2009

Written By: Victor Alfieri

November 12, 2009 – Greenville, SC – So a Hasidic Jew, reggae/rock/rapper walks into a bar in the “Bible Belt…” No, this is not the beginning of a joke. When Matthew Miller, AKA Matisyahu, rolled into Greenville, SC, I’m sure he had no idea what to expect. There were probably even questions in advance as to how this ended up a stop on his “Light Tour.” After all this town is truly right in the middle of the “Bible Belt” and the Jewish community is limited at best.

What he experienced may have a long-lasting effect on us all. As he has been doing in most cities, he started the evening with a free show to give the fans a taste of what was to come. Horizon Records is a beacon of light in the music industry; an independent music store that has fought the establishment for over 30 years. It was here that the evening started. The store was overwhelmed. The crowd actually spilled out into the parking lot.

What was most intriguing about this crowd was who was in it. Young children, frat boys, dreadlocked hippies and old Jewish ladies had come together to hear a special blend of music that apparently crossed all sorts of cultures, ages, genres and pre-conceived notions. Matisyahu was visibly touched by the attendance. At his suggestion, doors and windows were opened so the crowd outside could hear.

The short set was not quite “unplugged,” but scaled down considerably as he was joined by just the two guitarists and bass player. Matisyahu took care of the percussion himself using his beatbox talents to fill the gaps. The set list focused on the recent album, as well as one track that did not make the cut. The arrangements were subdued and lyrics more heartfelt. It was just a taste of what was to come…

Matisyahu brought his “A” game for the main event that evening, and the sold out crowd at The Handlebar were up for the challenge. Backing him was a stage full of amazing musicians that deserve spotlights of their own. Aaron Dugan (guitar) & Rob Marscher (keyboards), official members of the Matisyahu entity have teamed up with the Dub Trio on this tour. DT, consisting of DP Holmes (guitar), Stu Brooks (bass) & Joe Tomino (drums), are known for their ability to also blend genres seamlessly and, as witnessed, have the ability to bring the funk.

Ripping bass lines and percussion, battling guitar riffs, combined with dubs, samples and keyboard play set the stage for the man in the spotlight and he did not disappoint. For over two hours, the band shifted from rock, to reggae, to funk, all while Matisyahu pounded his positive lyrics and beatbox talents at the crowd. From the first note, the crowd was with him, and as the level of emotion went higher, we all followed as he covered songs, both popular and obscure. “King Without a Crown” and many of the newer songs were big hits with those in attendance.

As the show came to a close, the crowd was frantic and called for the obligatory encore. Special guest Kosha Dillz came out and freestyle rapped for a while about anything that the crowd threw up on stage, including a prescription pill container and somebody’s wallet. The night was set for one final push over the edge. A prolonged version of “One Day,” the current hit off of Light with a stage dive from Matisyahu put the exclamation point on an amazing night.

The crowd was not quite as diverse as the earlier free show, but there were still a few kids out way past there bedtime as well as a few old Jewish ladies sitting in the back. I think the town did the artist justice and I hope it will make him want to come back in the future. As he continues his tour, if he comes to your town, it is truly in your best interest to go see this show. The Matisyahu/Dub Trio combination is worth every penny and then some.

Glassjaw/RX Bandits @ The Mayan

November 18, 2009

Written By: Steve Sawyer
Photos By: Cindy Guillermo

View all of Cindy’s Glassjaw/RX Bandit photos here.

It’s been 7 years since Glassjaw released “Worship and Tribute” an album that many people, including myself, consider flawless. A similar amount of time has passed since the band has seriously toured. Aside from a few one off shows, and some short east coast runs throughout the years, Glassjaw has kept a relatively low profile. But if you know anything about the band’s history or their absolutely ravenous fanbase, then you know that simply being able to avoid the spotlight is no small feat for the group. With all this in mind I should have been surprised when I strolled up to The Mayan theater to find it sold out, with a line wrapping around the block. I wasn’t. So despite the long lines, a fever of 101, and a security guard that didn’t seem to understand how crucial the vitamin C in my Topicana orange juice was to my rapidly declining state of health, I troopered on and made my way inside the venue.

The Mayan is extremely well designed for it’s size, with an open floor, balcony seating, and bars tucked in every corner, it’s architect definitely made the most of it’s square footage. We quickly made our way to the barricades in front of the stage so we could catch the first three songs from the energetic opening act, The RX Bandits. When the lights hit, and the band finally took to the stage the entire audience was treated to an inspired drum number where each member of the band had a set of sticks, and a drum to contribute to the raucous percussive bombast. It was spectacular. They blasted seamlessly into their opening number, and I quickly remembered what makes these guys so special, they’re impeccable.

Their unique blend of ska, post hardcore, and tight vocal interaction puts them back on my list of “bands I have no excuse to not listen to”. To their credit, Matt Embree, and Steve Choi have an exceptional stage dynamic that shone through their entire performance, defined their stage time, and displayed their vocal strength all at once without so much as a single flaw. For a band that has gone through so many lineup changes, and has had to deal with label issues, and the other typical band crap, it was very refreshing to see them having a blast, and rocking it out.

After a performance that left me wishing I knew more about The RX Bandits recent years, and music, I was ready for some Glassjaw. I didn’t have to wait very long at all, as the band wasted no time tearing into some new material.

The new music sounded as fresh and tight as ever, and showed that age has done nothing to take away the bands bite. Whatever doubts Daryl Palumbo, and Head Automatica had put in my head about his ability to still scream his lungs out, were laid to rest. And as he and Justin Beck shredded effortlessly into “Tip Your Bartender”, and fan favorite “Mu Empire” it became immediately clear that this band was in no danger of going soft anytime soon. What’s also interesting, is just like The RX Bandits, Glassjaw has had to deal with a major component of their sound disappearing in the form of Todd Weinstock and his guitar, but just like the Bandits, it’s done nothing to take away the impact of their music. By the time “Ape Dos Mil” hit the speakers, and the familiar snare roll, and bass lick combo thudded through my chest, the entire crowd was swaying, singing, and swooning all at once.

After the song, we were kicked out of the barricades, and had to quickly find a comfortable spot to watch the rest of the show. We made our way to the left side of The Mayan, and found ourselves between the guard railing and a conveniently placed set of items, in the forms of a guy selling beer, and a trashcan. Taking refuge in my new found sanctuary of alcohol and sanitation I was treated to another new song, which after a short explanation Daryl Revealed to be “Jesus Glue.”

I was utterly surprised at how aggressive the new material is shaping out to be, with Daryl’s frequent screams, and an explosive blend of old school hardcore sensibility, and dare I say Latin influences? But even more critical than that is how much the band has matured within their material, the new songs are so much more fleshed out than their previous work and show a band that has used the time away to construct something bulletproof.

And continuing with that trend the highlight of the night for me was an equally bulletproof performance of the almost completely bass powered titular track from the album “Worship and Tribute”, and gauging from the response of the fans, it was theirs too. Bassist Manuel Carrero (Pew Pew) delivered every bass lick with precision, setting up the foundation for the wall of guitar sound that Justin Beck creates on every Glassjaw track. And by the time the climactic end of the song rolled around it was amazingly clear why they’ve stuck by their drummer Durijah for so long, with every single member watching each other for the slightest cues, it was like watching a performing family, more than it was watching a band going through a set-list of predetermined songs.

So you can understand my disappointment when Daryl announced that they were only playing two more songs. But fortunately one of those last two songs was the “Hotel of the White Locust”
Whatever reserves of energy the boys had been saving up were quickly unleashed, and all hell broke loose. And as he screamed his way through the familiar chorus, “Who could ever, who the fuck could ever. Take place of me?” It became pretty evident by the time hit their second encore “Babe” the answer was a resounding “No one.” Good to have you back Glassjaw.

The RX Bandits are:
• Matt Embree – vocals, guitar
• Steve Choi – guitar, keyboards
• Joseph Troy – bass, backing vocals
• Christopher Tsagakis – drums

Glassjaw is:
• Daryl Palumbo – Vocals
• Justin Beck – Guitars
• Durijah Lang – Drums, Percussion
• Manuel Carrero – Bass

Love Grenades Blow Up Bardot

November 17, 2009

Story and Photos By: Markus Eliance

View all of Markus’ Love Grenades photos here.

When I first arrived at the entrance of the club, I could feel the energy. I was early (apparently an uncommon practice as I would soon learn), and as the bouncers led me through the side alley entrance and up the stairs, the air of exclusivity was upon me. This is the Hollywood the Love Grenades were coming to turn upside down.

With an audience full of derby hats and ironic t-shirts, stylish blondes with pouty lips, and wannabe scenesters drinking imported beer, I waited patiently for the band to arrive. I waded through the crowd in the dance hall to the main room, where the DJ was spinning breakbeats and grooveable dance tracks. Out of nowhere, Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears” pops out of the speaker. This night is becoming more unpredictable by the minute.

As the minutes go by, I got bold and snuck a seat into the roped-off VIP booth, dead-center with the stage area. I invited a trio of girls to sit with me — two brunettes, and a blonde sporting one of the aforementioned derby hats. The blonde is from Boston, and chats with me about girls in gun clubs (at the mention of the magazine I work for.) During this small talk, one of the brunettes goes to light her cigarette in the candle on the table; she leaned in seductively to take a drag, and at that moment, accidentally set her hair on fire. Luckily, I moved quickly and lightly grabbed the flaming strands, extinguishing it with my bare hand. Her friends screamed in a mix of shock and embarrassment, but the brunette simply laughed it off with, “I know who’s getting a haircut tomorrow.” She gave me a kiss and dragged her two companions to the bathroom (probably for damage assessment).

Finally, after two hours have passed, the stage lighting activates, swirling flashes of green, red, and squad car-blue. When Elizabeth Wight, the lead singer, belts out the first few notes of “City Lights”, I was taken aback by the sudden wave of musical energy that rushed through the room. I moved closer in to the stage, sitting cross-legged on the floor. It felt like the band was playing in my bedroom. The seating arrangement is so close, that the lead singer took the opportunity to sit in a few laps and pit dive into the crowd. How much more intimate can you get?

The audience was absolutely enthralled with her, as she pranced barefoot across the room. The band’s turntablist coolly sipped at his beer in between mixing, and the guitarist, Corey, turned every note he played into a vibrating harmony with Elizabeth’s breathy voice. With a pitch that easily rivals any of today’s female pop vocalists, she oozes a raw talent that bolsters the sound of each track. It’s like the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s had made a baby with Daft Punk in a disco hall bathroom.

In the middle of the set, Elizabeth pauses the show to ask for a drink. At least three male audience members struggle to make a break for the bar. She cries through the mike, “Vodka and Cranberry! And some water, too.” The whole room feels like a group a friends reuniting after years of being apart. It was that carefree spirit that got everyone in the house grooving like there was no tomorrow. The band blazed through a six-song set, and ended it with an encore of their song “Young Lovers.”

I highly recommend you check out the track at their MySpace, as well as the video. I left Bardot that night with a new song stuck in my head, and the remnants of that energy trailing behind me.

Switchfoot @ The Roxy 11/11 (Sold Out Show)

November 17, 2009

Written By: Jim Markunas
(Editor-In-Chief)

View all of our Switchfoot photos here.

It’s been 4 years since Switchfoot has put out a seminole record. A few years after Sony tried to steamroll their career by adding spyware to hard copies of their 2005 album, Nothing Is Sound, Switchfoot severed all ties, opting to go ‘back to their indie roots.’ They started their own imprint and inked a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. Switchfoot’s new album Hello Hurricane is one of the most anticipated records of 4th quarter 2009. Released the same day as their Roxy appearance, Hello Hurricane was to be played live in it’s entirety. I knew this sold out show at the Roxy was going to be great; fans were lined up from the Roxy all the way to La Cienega Blvd (5-6 blocks down the street), eagerly awaiting Switchfoot’s first performance of Hello Hurricane (which, as I said before, was to be played by the band in its entirety that night).

Switchfoot performed without an opening act, and took their sweet time getting on stage. Just as I thought the show would never start, as hour after hour had painfully crawled by, the lights went dim, and every member of Switchfoot, except vocalist Jon Foreman, calmly walked on stage. They ripped into the first song off Hello Hurricane, singing began… but where was Jon? I flipped around 180 degrees, only to see that he was standing on a makeshift riser at the back of the club. Foreman sang to the crowd from across the room as the band played on the stage.

Jon is a rock star in his own right; he may look like the spitting image of David Spade, but believe me, there’s nothing comical about how he rocked it out. Jon was then somehow passed over the crown and on to the stage. The band ripped into the second song off Hello Hurricane, Foreman began to sing as he ripped off his black leather jacked and slowly strapped on his guitar (see the play-by-play of this in our photos section). I have to say, this was some sexy shit! That alone made up for the hours and hours of waiting for the band to grace the stage.

The rest of the show was a tad anti-climactic in certain parts, and majorly awesome in others. The next highlight was when Jon jumped off stage to sing to the crowd. He managed to push his way through the packed venue, belting out lyrics as he made his way through the crowd and back to the stage.

One thing I can say about Hello Hurricane is that it’s a consistent record (up to par with any other Switchfoot record) – fast and hard in some parts, and beautiful and slow in others. Check out Switchfoot.com for more tour dates. I’m not sure if they’re planning on playing Hello Hurricane front-to-back for the whole tour, but even if they aren’t, they’re a must-see live band.

Want More Switchfoot?

Jason Coldiron’s Interview With Switchfoot’s Chad Butler
View all of our Switchfoot Photos (Roxy)
News/Tour Dates
Review of Hello Hurricane (Coming Soon)