Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Death To Anders Continues Echo Residency

Monday (September 15) was the second installment of The Echo residency of Death To Anders and it was a night to remember. I knew this would be a stellar evening with four highly touted local bands and I didn't want to miss any of it.

I also knew there'd be a lot of people I've lately met there, but this was ridiculous. I've met and spoken with Christian Biel any number of times over the last year and he's aquainted me with some bands I didn't know, but when I walked in and saw him on stage with his band The Transmissions, I was transfixed. He is one hell of a guitarist and his emphatic and assured singing style caught me by surprise.

It's a whole other approach to music. For the first time, I meet people at shows and get to know them a little through repeated exposure, and then I see them with their band and see the artist inside the person. That's pretty special to me.

The place was like old home week of Death To Anders fans and friends. After greeting Mary (Monolator), Rob Danson, Kevin Bronson, Elaine Layabout and Andrew Spitser, I made my way to the middle of the floor to fully take in The Transmissions. Each song lifted me highter until their final number, a blazing version of "Safe", had Christian twisting, turning and jumping, oddly resembling one of those snakes in India that uncoil themselves out of a small basket. Weird...but that's what he reminded me of. It was a wild display of guitar gymnastics and explosive self expression. I was impressed (I got the new EP, Greater Imperfections, which is seriously great).

After that I met up with fellow bloggers, Travis Woods (Web In Front), Mouse (Classical Geek Theatre) and the evening's presenter, Joe Fielder (Radio Free Silver Lake) and then nearly all to The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, Eli (Monolator) and even Sarah Negahdari of The Happy Hollows (even though she's not performing until next week, acoustic).

Radars To the Sky took the stage next and delivered high powered set of the crowd's favorite Radar's songs and a new one, said to be unfinished, and with no name. Andrew later told me he was making up words by the end of the song, but, my god, it sounded completely polished to me. In fact it's my new favorite Radars To the Sky song. I think their writing is becoming as superb as their live performance and it's just a joy to see this band blossom.

Andrew is becoming such a showman with a stage presence so appealing, and he doesn't even seem to be trying. When he sings, he appears to be trying to stretch himself taller, he jumps, points, rolls his eyes and sometimes sings to the ceiling (Maybe he does get taller with each performance, like The Amazing Colossal Man) all the while maintaining a gracious interaction with the other four band members. His wife, Kate Spitser, is an anchoring presence with her solid keyboard work and the occasional vocal harmony, helping to keep things grounded...and Andrew earthbound.

Also met Dave, their new bass player, who I'd first seen with them at Sunset Junction. He seems a real asset to the band and you can tell he's been welcomed into the group like family.

Continuing this night of really high powered, high energy rock and roll, Death To Anders were up next. Like last week, they were lit from below, giving them an nice, eerie, horror-movie glow. It gave their set a ghouls-in-the-haunted-house feel to compliment their ghostly carnivalesque tunes. Sometimes I think this band needs a calliope.

They mixed it up from last week and included a couple of the acoustic versions I'd loved at their "Let's Independent!" show last month. Even with the unfortunate pause from guitar problems, Nick's song was a highlight for me because the song is just so beautiful and haunting. Rob performed his acoustic number, "Detective Surgery", which has yet to be recorded, and it contains some of their best lyrics I've heard from them.

The final band was The Monolators, and although I've seen them a bunch of times, it's been a long time and I wasn't prepared for how great they've become. Eli just freaked me out with his onstage performance. The whole band is just so tight now, they delivered definitive performances of songs I've heard them do before, but not like this.

Mary is amazing to watch on the drums... and that concentration. It's hard to pull your eyes from her long enought to take in Eli, flying all over the stage. They're also another band that genuinely seem to love playing with each other. That stuff shows and it can't be faked.

This was another amazing night of live music in L.A. and thanks to Radio Free Silver Lake and The Echo and Death To Anders.

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