Saturday, January 17, 2009

Red Cortez and Xu Xu Fang

I was happy to return to the 3 of Clubs on Thursday, January 15, 2009, after the terrific night I'd spent there the night before seeing Death To Anders, Les Blanks and The Soft Hands. I went to see The Happy Casualties, Steve Sigle's band, but the schedule was off and they weren't going on until midnight or after. I was out till 2 on Wednesday night, so after a couple of bands, I had to bail on the set. The up side was that I got to spend some time with Steve... and Bobby Tamkin of Xu Xu Fang joined us for a while.

I got to explain to Bobby why I missed them at Spaceland the other week when my bus hit a car on the way there. He also told me about Xu Xu Fang's sudden show at the Dragonfly on Santa Monica Blvd. on Friday night. They scheduled an 11:30 set, so I calculated that if Red Cortez were on at 10 at The Echo and I ran over to the Dragonfly right after they finished I could make my own double-bill and see two of my favorite bands.

I felt bad for missing The Happy Casualties and the chance to see them for the second time, but I'm on a ferocious show schedule this week and any night I can get to bed before 2 is a gift. I will see them again another time.

Friday night, January 16, 2009, I was grabbing a band here, seeing a band there and making a feast of great music. Since Monday I've been obsessing on Red Cortez, because of their set at the Robert Francis residency and the new EP, In The Fall which I listen to constantly. I can't believe how good it is.

Before journeying over to The Echo, Red Cortez had sent out a message saying they've been signed on to a remarkable show at the Club Nokia on March 16 with Primal Scream and The Brian Jonestown Massace. WOW! That's big.

Victim Vision were still playing when I got there and they sounded really solid and played well. It was a stark contrast to the bands I'd seen the night before, who seemed like actors playing rock and rollers. I didn't see enough of their set to form much of an opinion, but it sounded fine.

Red Cortez walked in during the set, and Harley, Diego, Ryan and Calvin were pretty excited about their Club Nokia news and it showed in the set they played. It was nice to be able to tell Harley how spectacular I find their new EP, and how his voice is recorded just right.

Beginning with "In The Fall" they played a set just as electrifying as Monday night (Jan. 12) at the same venue. This was kind of a surprise show they jumped on to at the last minute, so it was pretty much a crowd of strangers, but the band won them over, big time. What would you expect from a band that is as much fun to watch as a travelling circus?

The sound was great, once they got the vocals up to the proper level, and again I was blown away by the extreme talent on display. I could very easily go see this band twice every week. I can only imagine where Red Cortez will be a year from today.

I had to say quick goodbyes as I dashed off to the bus which took me over to Hollywood to see Xu Xu Fang. The free show at The Dragonfly, at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Wilcox, apparently was an office party for some business, though they certainly looked like rock fans.

I lucked out, logistically, as they just began their first song, "The Mourning Son", as I walked in. It's an interesting club with a bit of a history and a cavernous appeal. Very high ceiling, but shallow spectator area and a good space for the oceanic psychedelic rock of Xu Xu Fang. Their music is tidal in it's pull, with an undertow that sweeps you off your feet. You feel like you're being swept side to side by a current.

Because there was little to no fog, I appreciated the opportunity to actually see these wonderful musicians, all seven of them, create their art. It was also nice to see the camaraderie that exists between band members who obviously enjoy playing together. I think the venue was concerned about too much fog.

I always feel completely filled up with music at the end of one of their sets, their sound is so dense. Bobby Tamkin's drumming, the ethereal splendor of Barbara Cohen's voice, and that gang of guitars, with Jenna Blake's keyboard, just engulf you in atmosphere. It doesn't hurt that the songs are so beautiful, either.

Love the new material and can't wait for their next EP. Perfect way to start the weekend, spending quality time with Red Cortez and Xu Xu Fang on a Friday night. It was so much fun to make up my own program this evening, and timing and serendipity were on my side.


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