Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Surreality of Pehrspace and Fleet Foxes (Night One)

The journey over to Pehrspace on Friday night (June 27) clued me in to the unique nature of going to that venue. First of all I couldn't get a sense of where it was located, even after consulting maps, and being a mass transit kind of guy, it needed to be accessible. It's hidden at the back of a minimall in a mythical land somewhere between Echo Park and downtown L.A. Too far from Sunset Blvd. to walk, I chose the Beverly Blvd route, which dropped me at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at around 10 at night. It looked like a giant old dinosaur of a building sided by that big stone bridge that carries Beverly down into downtown. Most odd was the fact I was the only human being in sight. No one...not one; only an ocasional car seeming to drive itself by. Downtown lay directly ahead of me and I knew Glendale Blvd went off toward the north somewhere around there. It was a "Twilight Zone" episode come to life. Only a martian looking like Ross Martin was missing. I walked one block east, crossed the street, went one block back west to where I saw a traffic sign indicating Glendale Blvd. turning right. That looked promising, but still there were no human organisms in sight and I thought, "Where the hell is everybody?!" Up Glendale a few blocks, still no one, but I saw the tall sign indicating the minimall entrance. Then, glancing to my left at Court Street, I saw one of those long, tall cement staircases running severely up the side of a steep hill, and I, this was the very one made famous in the original 1956 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" that Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter run up, chased by pod people. Well, already, my night was complete. I had crossed the line into total Lewis Carroll surrealism as I walked up to the dark entrance of Pehrspace behind a short palm tree that I fully expected to see a smoking caterpillar sitting atop of.

Inside I found what looked like a large living room with a kitchenette in the corner and a band playing to all the people who had depopulated the earth I had just come from and were now here packed in like hot sardines. Resisting the impulse to jump back outside to the cool night air, I plunged bravely into the crowd just to hear the last three notes of the last song by Health Club. I really wanted to hear this band...after Fol Chen, they were the reason I attended, but earlier I'd had to wait about 50 minutes for the Beverly bus and it delayed me too much. But then I would have missed my appointment in the twilight zone.

Ran into Hunter of The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra and his bandmate, Ethan, who was doing sound for the evening. The room emptied as the next band set up and I could see the room, which cooled down considerably to tolerable levels. Weave and Hearts of Palm UK both played entertaining, danceable sets that the audience really enjoyed. As I've been told, and it's true, Pehrspace gets one to the best audiences I've yet been a part of... Rob Danson of Death To Anders, Devisadero's fabulous violinist working admittance, Mouse of Classical Geek Theatre, Joe Fielder of Radio Free Silver Lake and members of many other local bands like Eagle Winged Palace, etc.

Fol Chen went on around 12:45 but played another incredible set. Is this band ever less than incredible? Adam and troop, playing both familiar and unfamiliar material, displayed their tremendous showmanship. These guys are definitely entertainers as well as great musicians and Ethan had the sound just right. Thanks to the Squaregirls for hosting.

The night ended with chatting into the wee hours and a ride up to Sunset from two kind friends. I hopped a bus and was home by 2:30, thinking how well this story illustrates just how much my life has changed from the fairly sedentary existence I was living just a couple of years ago, and all due to the power of music.

Saturday night was my first exposure to Fleet Foxes in concert and I'll write a more fulsome review after I see them again Sunday night.

The Echo was sold out when I got there and I missed Frank Fairfield which was a big mistake, but the place was packed...and HOT...really hot and filled with a very different crowd. I had no idea what to expect of a Fleet Foxes audience, but was surprised to see, almost exclusively, suburban, Orange County-types, very clean-cut, (boring dressers) and very much in dating mode.

Watching The Duchess and The Duke from a pretty good vantage point near the stage, the room became more crowded and hotter. The band was good, but not enough to keep me standing there to the point of passing out, so I fled out back to the patio. Smart move, good air, and from across the patio Evan Way of The Parson Red Heads and I saw each other, recognizing kindred souls, we stood together wondering who are these people and where did they come from. (Were they the pod people I almost ran into last night?) We talked a while and I told him I was looking forward to seeing his solo acoustic set on Sunday night. He headed inside to find Brette and I met up with Mr. Eagle Winged Palace so there was the occasional familiar face in the crowd.

Heading inside for the band, the room was as crowded as I've ever seen it (Like for the Beck shows I saw last year) so I had to position myself at the back, near the entrance in a lone pocket of oxygen. Of course, being at the back of the Echo is still close to the performer. Fleet Foxes sounded just as I wanted them to, with a great sound mix even they were very happy about. And the audience proved themselves to be respectful, enthusiastic and completely attentive to the band. I was surprised and pleased. Robin Pecknold has an easy and ingratiating stage manner, obviously loving what he is doing and proud to share his gifts with us. Sometimes it seemed like he couldn't stop grinning. They played many great songs from both their releases including "Sun Giant", "Drops in the River", "White Winter Hymnal", "He Doesn't Know Why", "Ragged Wood", "Blue Ridge Mountains", "Oliver James" (solo) and the most beautiful version of "Mykonos" I could imagine, where the song devolved into some of the most stunning vocal harmonies it's ever been my pleasure to witness. Absolutely incredible, I didn't even notice the heat. If anything Robin's voice sounds even better live, kind of like Joni Mitchell in the early years, until "Blue" captured her vocals accurately, more flexible and modulated. Maybe one of the finest voices I've ever heard.

I can't wait for tonight.


1 comment:

ishouldbeking said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better. (This is Aaron, from the Flying Tourbillon, by the way.) You were missed at Kickchella last night...