Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday Blast at Spaceland

If Saturday night was any indication, we're in for quite a year of concert and club-going. The energy and enthusiasm was palpable, even in line waiting to get in, as I was missing The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra. My primary reason for attending this show was to see Kelli Noftle's last performance with the band, and they unexpectedly went on first.

But everyone I spoke to was impressed by their set (Jordan Huddock told me to say it was good, and being a man of taste, I believe him). The band hung around all evening so at least I got to speak to all of them and I wish them well in the next phase of The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra.

I entered the fairly packed club as Lemon Sun were setting up, to see a great representation of locals in the place. They were cohabiting the same space at the suburban date crowd that seems to find it's way up Silverlake Boulevard on weekend nights. It made for a nice, interesting mix of people.

I positioned myself of the floor to listen to Lemon Sun and found their set pleasant, with some '60's-style vocal harmonizing and solid indie pop/rock instrumentals. Many in the crowd were bouncing to the beat and the audience just kept getting bigger and more densely compacted as people piled in.

It was clear the big draw was Afternoons and the highly anticipated set by the new lineup of The Henry Clay People, which everyone was anxious about. This was the second of two nights in a row at Spaceland for Afternoons, sponsored by Indie 103.1. I missed the first night, with Xu Xu Fang, due to a bus mishap, so I was determined not to miss this show.

Afternoons ran through a tight set of their operatic/orchestral indie rock sending shivers down the collective spines of the audience with the power of their precise vocal athletics. They can even stand back, away from their mikes, and still be heard over their instrumentals.

The collective that was known as Irving has produced some of the best musicians in the local scene, and, just as with Sea Wolf, Afternoons plays some of the sharpest, most professional sets that I see. They're also one of the best dressed local bands, although The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra gave them a run for their money, tonight. In fact the whole audience was pretty dapper looking.

The Henry Clay People took their turn around 12:30 to a still packed house. Unusually so, even for a Saturday night. Everyone seemed to stay till the very end, and then, no one wanted to leave.

The Henry Clay People introduced a new bass player, Jonathan, and a new drummer, Mike (replacing Noah Green and Eric Scott) who will be joining Andy Siara and Joey Siara as the new lineup on their first tour. The Airborne Toxic Event have invited them along for The Airbornes' second national tour, and Rademacher will join them for many dates as well. (The Fonda, February 12, locally)

As a way of easing their fans into the new lineup they played 5 new songs they haven't been doing live, and that was a smart move. Everyone enjoyed the songs, which are up to their normal high standards, and we had the luxury of not having to compare them to their familiar material. It all sounded fresh and original and just as powerful as when they had 29 people on stage with them on New Year's Eve. In other words, the new lineup is great!

The crowd jumped and danced and cheered and buoyed Joey as he jumped on the crowd to be suspended in midair for half a song. Everybody is so genuinely thrilled by this band's success, you could feel the electricity in the air. It was a performance that's going to be tough to top.

And we bid a fond farewell to our local heroes as they venture out across the U.S. Armed with their great For Cheap or For Free CD, and their incredible live shows, that leave nothing but converts in their wake, I expect The Henry Clay People to come back stars.


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