What a neat place Crane's Hollywood Tavern is, tucked away on El Centro Avenue around the corner from the Fonda. According to previous patrons, they've revamped the place and made the back patio the main entrance and repositioned the stage inside on the street side of the building. Althought the structure itself is an ordinary, boxy, stucco affair the place is steeped in old Hollywood flavor. Nice staff and a picturesque outdoor bar made Saturday evening, November 29, 2008, a very pleasant experience.
Jordan Hudock of Marvelous Toy and Vivien Cao were pulling up as I got there just after 9, so we sat on the patio in a big booth to chat a while. The first band, The Elated Sob Story had been forced to cancel so Downtown Union would open the show at 10. Jordan and Vivien are two of my longest acquaintances in the scene and it's always great to catch up with them. Only tonight, I was going to see Jordan's band for the first time. And on a bill with one of my current favorite bands, Seasons. I was looking forward to it.
Downtown Union are Bo Bory on vocals and guitar and Jeff Electric who is an electrifying human drum machine. Tight songwriting and powerful guitar playing make for a very catchy set. I've seen them before and I feel like they could remain a duo and do very well or add additional musicians for a fuller band sound. Either way they have tremendous potential.
By now, the guys from Seasons had arrived and there was a nice gathering of friends and support musicians like Matt Teardrop of Manhattan Murder Mystery, movie aficionado, Ian, and got to have a nice talk with Jack Gibson of Tenlons Fort, who's currently working with Aaron Embry and Avi Buffalo. I can't wait to hear the fruits of that labor.
Collisions was on next and they play hypnotic trance music that lulled the audience into a state of tranquility. I love ambient electronic indie music and this band plays it extremely well and they sounded great in the space. I would like to hear this band recorded and look forward to seeing them live again.
It must have been close to midnight when Seasons filled the stage with lights, musicians and music. They played a strong set, had able support from Matt on accordion and tambourine, everyone played their best, but, unfortunately, they couldn't get Nic's vocals up enough to pull their huge sound together. All the other elements rang out loud and clear and just to hear the wide range of their musicianship was still a pleasure. They can just fill the ears with perfect sound sometimes. But Nic's vocals are so extraordinary, it's what I pined to hear clearer.
But the night belonged to Marvelous Toy. They didn't even go on till near one in the morning, but once they began, it felt like early evening again.
Like I said, I've known Jordan Hudock for a while, so to have it explode in my face, what a major songwriting and performing talent he is, was a revelation, to say the least. I've been listening to the EP All is Quiet for a while now, but it gives no clue to the dynamic presentation the songs receive in a live performance.
The contributions of all the band members is outstanding with special mention to Ny Lee, and song after song, they kept topping themselves. I recognized "Waiting By the Fire" and "The City is a Washing Machine" but others seemed in an entirely different genre than the other EP selections. He still sounds a bit Randy Newman and John Lennon-ish, but live, there's a whole raucous dimension only hinted at on the recordings.
It's a bit folk, a lot of indie, almost Appalachian at times, but really lively, like an original Americana music form with bookish lyrics. He can also flat out rock till you're ready to jump up and dance. I don't know how they've managed to fly below my radar for so long (many other bloggers have written glowingly of them), but I anxiously await they're next show at the Silverlake Lounge on January 5, 2009.
I was flabbergasted. They're not just a good new band, they're a great band. So many new local bands seem to spring to life fully formed, like they're already performing at the the top of their capabilities, but they keep surprising me and topping themselves. Marvelous Toy is another band to add to that group.
Fun to find a new band and a new venue to enjoy.