Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Happy Hollows Record Release Show

Thursday night (November 6, 2008) was a real celebration at the intersection of music and politics. It was the record release party for The Happy Hollows, who decided to expand the night into an Obama Victory Event, as well.

It was a tough call for concerts that night, what with the formidable competition from Thailand and Avi Buffalo at The Scene in Glendale (Oh, and there was the Dodger Stadium show where the middle-aged Madonna was strutting her aging stuff - not competition, just a fact).

The path to The Echo was blocked from any direction by Madonnites, making everyone late. I still managed to get there around 9:30 and The Soft Hands had just begun. Their set blew me away, and I've seen them before, but this show was the clincher. I'm learning that sometimes it can take two or three or even more exposures to a band to really get it.

Not only do they perform great rock and roll, but it's also complex, structurally sound and smart. On songs like "I Hope So" or "I'm on Fire", it's not only the strength of their playing on the shape-shifting melodies that hooks you, but the vocals by Matt and Elizabeth are dazzling technical displays. The intricate weaving of voices and the back-and-forth ping pong match of lyrics, all at double time, had me staring, mouth hanging open. It wasn't just fast, it was beautiful.

The audience was building and it was a great mix of the local music community all offering loving support to Sarah Negahdari and The Happy Hollows.

This was also my first opportunity to celebrate the election and it felt good to see how much it was affecting this current generation. One after another they told me they'd never experienced such a sudden, major societal shift (other than 9/11). Periodically it happens that society steps forward a couple of steps and drags mankind with it. 9/11 was a trauma that sent us reeling backwards, helped by a dunderhead administration, but Obama's election is a catapult forward, and the country will never be the same.

Not so for Proposition 8, unfortunately, as the hateful religious right had the funds to smear and lie to the incurious masses who bought the propoganda. Two steps forward, one step backwards.
Change will come and humanity will evolve. That can't be stopped!

Next up was Strange Boys from Austin, Texas, who played an electrifying set of strange-rock. Much in the tradition of Death To Anders, their music is all angular and edgy and twisted like a pretzel. Lead singer, Ryan Sambol, has the appropriately strained and awkward stage presence that suits the music that has titles like, "Heard You Wanna Beat Me Up" and "Who Needs Who Anymore".

By now the place was pretty packed. Saw Christian of The Transmissions, Rob of Death To Anders, Matt of Manhattan Murder Mystery, Brian of Silversun Pickups among the musicians present. Bloggers Travis of Web in Front, Mouse of Classical Geek Theatre, Jax of Rock Insider and Kevin of Buzz Bands as well as videographer Elaine Layabout, all documenting the evening.

A rapt crowd watched as a documentary introducing The Happy Hollows ran on the wall above the stage. This is the oh-so-serious cinema-verite style film documenting Sarah's tenuous grasp on reality. As bandmates Charlie Mahoney and Chris Hernandez struggle to explain what's the matter with Sarah, and come up with no answers, they show you examples of Sarah's embarrasing public displays of her hostile/aggressive side. It's all very tongue-in-cheek and hilarious, especially when she tries out new expressions.

Taking the stage, they burst into a raucous set of their favorites. I picked up the 7" and it features great versions of "Tamborine" and "Lieutenant" complete with Sarah's incredible guitar neck-playing skills which she does live like it's no big deal. Her singing was wonderful from the littlest squeal to the raging tantrum. Man, does she get mad! Like at the end of "Tamborine". You feel sorry for the floor.

I always enjoy seeing them play and this was a terrific set. They left their audience giddy and I even stayed to see the last band, Die Rockers Die. They also played a wonderful set. After bouncing around for hours to the other bands, it was nice to settle into some ambient, oddball trance. It's like an experimental art rock conglomerate. This is some highly original music and I stayed as long as I could, but at one in the morning, it was time to go home.

And still, at that hour, the busses were packed with Madonnites. It was like 1985 all over again. Not a pretty sight.


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