Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Indie 103.1's Check One...Twosday Inauguration

November 11, 2008 was the debut of the all new Indie 103.1 Check One...Twosday in it's new home at the Echoplex, and Mr. Shovel and Melissa's event got off to a roaring start with a program of all headliner-worthy bands.

Extraordinary was the fact that a show like this, featuring the superb bands Earlimart, Afternoons, and Red Cortez , with Dazzler on at midnight (sorry, I couldn't stay for them), would be free. Feel lucky to live in L.A. yet?

Earlimart will always get me out of the house and to a show, but the opening acts made me get there early. Red Cortez is a band that is rapidly ascending to one of my favorites, based on only two shows and many mighty recommendations from friends and bloggers, from their Weather Underground era.

I saw them two weeks ago at the Silverlake Lounge for the first time in their first public show as Red Cortez and with their new guitar player, Calvin J. Love. It was an eye opening show and I was impressed with the fierce talent on display. They practically burst the confines of that tiny venue while they blew my mind with the intelligence of their music.

But their show here was something different. Perhaps it was the solemnity of the occasion, or the size of the venue, but they played with a precision and formality that struck some of their longtime fans as too tame. Others said it was a set by a headliner-quality band in the opening slot. I sided with the latter. I want a bit of anarchy in my rock and roll, but it needs to have a structure to it. I know, that's a contradiction. Kind of like wanting a choreographed riot.

As a rock fan, there comes a time in one's relationship with a band, when you realize they will become lifetime companions. That you don't want to contemplate any future existence without this music in your life. I think that happened Monday night with Red Cortez. This band has the talent to surprise and amaze for years to come.

They played a set in a wide range of styles that touch on their many influences, with Harley Prechtel-Cortez commanding the stage as if he was born to perform. He appeared the consummate professional showman and had audience members, unfamiliar with them, staring in wonder at the talent on display. He's matched by an equally talented band, Ryan Kirkpatrick on bass, Calvin Love on Guitar and Diego Guerrero's mightily impressive drumming. Loud and hard or acoustic and delicate, I'll follow this band anywhere.

This was also the night that I was finally knocked out by Afternoons. Brian Canning's band just floored me with their 'wall of voices' that spill off the stage and chase after you if you dare resist. Nice, dour, pop tunes with full orchestral accompaniment...and an opera singer. Who could ask for anything more.

It's nice to see the former Irving members playing a whole different kind of music and obviously enjoying it a lot. I saw Irving a lot three years ago when I first got back into music and they were always warm and approachable. Now it's fun to see them transformed into Sea Wolf and Afternoons. Both of whom appear poised for success.

Lots of nice people in the crowd, which turned out to be as crowded as the Viper Room ever got during this event, only here, one could spread out. Aaron Espinoza summed it up best when Earlimart took the stage and he basically said good riddance to The Viper Room. Yeah, I was always impressed (in one way or another) by the overwhelming smell of puke as you came up the stairs into that club. On the other side of the equation, I saw some of the best sounding shows I've ever seen there, and some of my favorite bands. Film School, Everest and The Happy Hollows immediately come to mind.

Earlimart continue to stun me with their live shows. I'm gonna brag and tell you I've seen them 13 times and don't ever recall them giving the same show twice. In consideration of their fans, Aaron E. and Ariana Murray always mix up their set list and include old material I've never heard along with the occasional unrecorded new stuff.

Still performing the majority of material from Hymn and Her, I never tire of these songs. Performing as a three-piece, as has been their makeup lately, they even re orchestrated some of the material to give it fresh punch. It's no wonder their one of the best loved local acts, and will always continue to be so.

As Kevin Bronson (Buzzbands.LA) wisely put it, you don't have to go any further than your own back yard to find a vibrant, pulsating music scene. It's right here!

On a side note, huge congratulations to Fol Chen for being signed to Asthmatic Kitty Records. It couldn't happen to a more deserving band!


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