Saturday, August 2, 2008

Castledoor, The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra and Gangi

I felt like I hadn't been out in the longest time when I left for my trek to Glendale on Thursday (July 31)...actually five days, which these days is about my limit before live-performance withdrawal begins to set in. Seeing music live has become like oxygen or water to me. Necessary to sustain life.

Growing up with parents who loved live performance, we were taken to circuses, ice shows, concerts, but most of all, lots of theatre and that fostered my craving to see artists live. So when I got into rock and roll as a teenager in the late '60's I couldn't wait to see bands live, too. Of course, livng in the suburbs outside Boston, that wasn't realistically possible and in 1968, when I graduated from high school, the world was a pretty daunting place, and a concert could have been, actually, dangerous. I was a wimp.

Going off to college in September, 1968, leaving home for the first time (otherwise I would have been drafted and sent to Viet Nam - student deferment time) the world I was going out into had, just since January, seen the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the escallation of the war and the anti-war movement, and the people in the street rioting at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Oh, and the hippies were everywhere, offering me the opportunity to escape the sraight-jacket society of the '50's I had grown up in. I don't think I would have survived otherwise. Actually, in spite of everything, I couldn't have been more excited about joining the real world then, because there was also the great music exploding out of everywhere, the movies were reaching their peak as an artform (I still believe this, and this period of great American movies lasted almost 20 years before the artform began to collapse from corporate takeover) and life's possibilities seemed endless.

Now, at my age, I realize some of my strongest life memories are of live performance, even from as far back as when I was 6 or 7 years old. Those memories really stay with you and enrich your life, so I feel I'm making lots and lots of more memories.

O.K. back to the present, I take the subway and a bus to Glendale. It feels weird to be in the subway so soon after an earthquake, I'm just not anxious to be buried alive under Los Angeles. I get to The Scene around 10 and see it's a nice little club divided in two by a central bar; pool table on one side, stage and audience space on the other. Have a chance to chat with Ethan and Hunter of The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, they both want to hear about the Inara George/Van Dyke Parks concert from last week. I feel so lucky to have gotten in to that show!

Gangi went on around 10:30. I'd been listening to their myspace selections and liked them a lot, but live they sound even better. It was just Matt Gangi, mixing, sampling, playing guitar and singing, accompanied by Lyle Nesse on drums and keyboards and a whole host of other apparatus. But together they presented one beautiful composition after another. A sort of psychedelic stew of sound samples, prerecorded backgrounds and guitars washing over nervy, high-wire vocals defines Gangi's sound. The songs reveal a real attention to melodic detail and never meander around aimlessly but have an evocative, atmospheric glow. I picket up their CD from Matt and have been enjoying it ever since. A few listenings show a nice attention to lyrics, which sound intelligent and relevant, I'm still picking them up.

Between sets I got to spend some time with The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra's Kelli, Adam, Aaron and Daniel, who then got up to deliver a great set of their polished indiepop songs. Arranged nicely, I especially liked "Audry", and Kelli sang beautifully, in spite of feeling a little under the weather, she rose to the occasion. Hunter led the band in a performance that topped their CD release party even. I see this band going places and their professionalism will pay off. Nice stage interaction shows a band that really like each other, and it's infectious.

Got to chat with Aaron Embry of Amnion and Eli Chartkoff of The Monolators before Castledoor came on and once again wowed the crowd with an energetic set and a mix of old and new material. Nate Cole was in great voice and the whole band matched him with precise playing and beautiful harmonies. Gabe Combs, Joel Plotnik, Coury Jane Combs and Lisa Cole all helped deliver a solid uptempo performance that had most of the crowd bouncing. Together with the other two bands I saw this was a well thought out lineup where the bands really complemented each other.

It was a night of really solid music performance.


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