Sunday, September 21, 2008

Liam Finn and The Veils at Echoplex

Saturday night (September 20) I imagine much of the Los Angeles music community was at the Hollywood Bowl seeing Beck or at the Lobster Festival down in San Pedro with it's great line up. I was happy to have the opportunity to see New Zealand's The Veils, for the third time, at The Echoplex opening for Liam Finn. This band is so good I think they may end up in the Bowl one day.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it was another amazing night of music in a perfect setting. I know people bitch and moan about The Echoplex, and I have had some issues with overcrowding and heat, but when the audience size is just right and the music this seductive, the place is electric.

When I walked in the place was already pulsating to a wild, throbbing caterwauling. This was Karin Tatoyan, and she sent me reeling to the bar at the far end to get as far away as possible. Getting a drink, I slowly wandered toward the source of all the noise. As I got closer I realized, "that girl can really sing", and closer still and I noticed, "that guy is playing that violin beautifully". Then I saw the other guy playing a French Horn. I got up close. What intense, unique orchestrations sitting on top of that throbbing beat that rearranges your organs. Meanwhile her thrilling vocals kept rearranging my head. I only saw 4 or 5 of her songs but by the end I was flabbergasted by this raw talent. Her screaming, shouting, moaning, but beautifully sung ending left me speechless.

Karin looked to have an eye mask of glitter spray painted directly on her face, while the band had black eye masks sprayed on their faces giving the band a kind of '60's Manhattan discotheque/'70's disco from Mars appearance. In the vivid red lighting and with the fluttering backdrop they appeared to be enveloped in flames at times. Karin Tatoyan and her band are very striking! How wrong my first impression was. There's a lesson there.

I was right up front for The Veils and pretty damned excited when they came on. Finn Andrews just exudes charisma in spite of his genuine shyness. As Elaine Layabout pointed out to me, she'd never seen him happier, and it's true, he seemed both overjoyed and bashful about the crowd-love he was receiving. I was so glad to be so close because he is someone to watch, and when I saw him at the Hotel Cafe I was kind of across the room.

He sang "Advice For Young Mothers To Be" which was how I found out about The Veils in the first place. Back when cable TV music video channels used to occasionally feature videos of low budget independent bands, I videotaped the video for this song. It's the one with the floating babies and it's sensational. I researched their other music and was stunned at what I heard. I got the Nux Vomica CD and played it fanatically, so when they came to the Hotel Cafe on August 16 and 17, 2007, I was smart enough to get a ticket for each night. They turned out to be two of the best concerts of 2007!

He also sang "Not Yet", "Calliope!", and the fabulous "Jesus For the Jugular". There are very few people on earth I like to hear screaming, but he is one of them. Because unlike most all of them, he knows when to stop. He's also quite the accomplished lyric writer. One of my favorite lines, "No man alive has earned the right to save me!" is from "Jesus...". That is so true. Incredible! Some new songs were also performed and they were as good or better than the older material. This man is such a powerful, emotional singer he can bring you joy or make you cry, I even think he could exorcise demons.

He looked to be backed by the same band as last year, and that's good because they're great. My only complaint was that, at first, I couldn't hear Finn's vocals like I should, but that seemed to get better. Sometimes that's just a function of being up too close, as the vocals can be coming out over your head and you have to be back a little to hear them. But I was willing to sacrifice some clarity for proximity.

They played for close to an hour and the whole set was perfect. Finn was a charming host and the audience was ecstatic so he returned a big old compliment about how he loves L. A. and the audiences. It was easy to see he meant it!

Finn Andrews was the headliner and I'd never seen him so his set was kind of a revelation, too. He's a talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from Australia. I was pretty astonished at the range of his songwriting skills. He was accompanied by a fantastic female vocalist who was also making music via a few instruments and computers. I couldn't tell what was what, especially when she started recording and playing back her vocals, layering them over and over each other. It was pretty heady stuff. He has a beautiful voice and is a highly talented drummer as well as guitarist. It's amazing to see him play guitar for part of a song and then switch to drums mid song. I need to pick up some of his CD's.

Toward the end of his set, I was standing near the back of the open audience space when I saw Finn Andrews head over to the merch table. And he was all alone so I went over and introduced myself and he was just as one would expect. I shook his hand and told him how great his set was and could only babble "'welcome to L. A." But I really meant it.


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