Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend Shows - August 15, 16, 2008

Last Friday night (August 15) I was off to the Echo to see The Parson Red Heads and Pop Levi at the Club Underground event. A highly talented and highly idiosyncratic performer is Pop Levi. I first saw him at a New Year's Eve show at the Echo a couple of years ago and I was pretty blown away by the whirlwind on stage that night. It was just him and his sound samples and guitar and tons of energy. The songs were catchy and smart and I got a CD.

The next time I saw him was at the Troubadour when he opened for Mando Diao on May 22, 2007. That whole evening was geared to the glam/disco crowd and I didn't enjoy it. Pop Levi played a set so smothered in excessive dance beats that the sound mix was entirely off and he sounded awful. I feared the worst.

The Parson Red Heads opened and they played with their usual professionalism and style and it was great. Seven band members participated that night and delivered a range of songs both old and new. I especially liked hearing "State Lines" with it's great vocals. In fact all the singing was particularly strong, the playing superb and on some of the extended instrumentals they even entered Jefferson Airplane territory, which makes me very happy.

They're about to embark on a series of dates with Everest and if their playing is as tight and polished as they were Saturday night, they will win over many new fans. Be sure to pick up their latest CD Owl and Timber. It's terrific.

Pop Levi came on and he was back to the Pop Levi I saw the first time at the Echo. With an accompanist, he launched into his insistently danceable pop tunes that he wants you to take seriously with his dark and dangerous sounding lyrics. Eyes rimmed in black, he presents an 'edge of madness' persona as he leers, grimaces and twists his face to punctuate his screaming guitar and eerie, ethereal vocals.
It's definitely not my usual fare, but he draws you in with his unmistakeable talent.

I was really looking forward to seeing Gangi for the second time on Saturday night (August 16) at Spaceland. When I saw them back on July 31 at The Scene I didn't know their music so after I enjoyed their set I bought the CD called A. This time I'd know the songs and I looked forward to hearing them live again.

They began with "Ground" which is the song I'm currently obsessed with and it sounded just as good, if not better, than on the CD. It's a wonderful, hypnotic song that seems to deal with their recurring theme of navigating your way through a difficult world. It has a melody that locks itself into my head, sometimes disturbing my sleep.

They played "Waiting On the Line", "Shift', the wonderful "Animals" and another of my favorites "Commonplace Feathers" (also addictive). I just love this woven tapestry of sounds, dialog samples, the mystical eastern influence and the tribal drums. It's a gorgeous mix, both heady and intoxicating.

I look forward to much more Gangi music from Matt Gangi and Lyle Nesse. They're off to New York already to shoot a video and based on the highly evocative nature of the music, I expect a pretty interesting video. They're playing at Tangier on August 31 and I highly recommend paying them a visit.

The opening act was a singer/songwriter named Amanda Jo Williams who sang simple, brutally honest songs about relationships, and "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash, in a voice that seemed to be channeling one of Sybil's 16 personalities (Peggy, I think it was...the little girl one). She also sang one of the most direct songs about fucking that I've ever heard, as if she were singing about washing dishes. Hilarious.

The Muslims played after Gangi, but I'm housesitting this week and had to go tend animals, so I missed them this time.

I'm trying to conserve energy this week so I can expend it all at Sunset Junction next weekend, so I'm going to have to miss the Classical Geek Theatre Fiend Folio show with The Mae Shi on Wednesday night (August 20) at the Echo Curio. But everyone else should go.

Also happy to see Tandemoro are jumping on the bill at Pehrspace on Friday, August 22, cause I was disappointed Fol Chen had to pull out because Adam has been called to play guitar with Liars opening for Radiohead on the West Coast leg of their tour. Wow! Also sad Fol Chen's next show is on the same night as the Calexico show at the Fonda, September 29, which I'm going to. But Tandemoro I haven't seen in forever and they have new material so I'll look forward to seeing Mike Griffin and gang. Also looking forward to Thailand that night. The Hectors and Kissing Cousins round out the bill.


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