I had a great time at the Where Gallery in Silverlake last Friday, March 6, 2009. It was the second reception for the exhibit called "EXPOSURE" featuring the work of three of our local music scene's best photographers, Benjamin Hoste, Simon Cardoza and Jeff Koga.
Each Friday during the exhibit's run the gallery hosts an evening of live acoustic music to lure people in and it's a successful gimmick. The place was packed. And why wouldn't it be with the promise of the public debut of an acoustic version of The Monolators. I couldn't wait to see this.
I got there just in time to take in Simon Cardoza's shots of Death to Anders, The Happy Hollows and his amazing photo of Matthew Teardrop and the Manhattan Murder Mystery.
As The Monolators began, most of the room focused their attention on the music, and what a sight it was, with Eli playing banjo and Mary squatting on the floor with, what looked like, toy drums and looking every bit like a demented and delightful 5 year old banging away on the floor of her playroom. They were augmented by two other musicians and it was a delight to hear these different versions of familiar songs.
I enjoyed hearing Eli's yelping vocals up close and out front. Even the decidedly retro sound amplification they used brought an old fashioned quality to the rudimentary sound. I thought the set was a bold step for The Monolators and they rose to the occasion admirably.
Between sets I had the chance to admire the work of Benjamin Hoste and Jeff Koga. Love the close up of Tim James from The Movies and the ladies of Castledoor (The Ladies of Castledoor... it sounds like some old M-G-M opus with Lana Turner or something) and so many others. The whole exhibit is a treat and the Where Gallery is a nice comfortable space.
By the time One Trick Pony came on, a party atmosphere had overtaken the room and, sad to say, not enough paid attention to their remarkable acoustic performance. Well I did. I've seen One Trick Pony a few times and always enjoyed them, but to hear them completely unmiked was a transcendent experience, matched only by the recent unmiked set I saw by Tommy Santee Klaws last January at the Hyperion Tavern.
I moved right down front and sat on the floor, so I barely could hear the cacophony from the crowd behind me. From my vantage point, I heard the combination of Randolph's expressive and limber voice, his evocative lyrics, with Charlene Huang's stunning violin presence which insinuates itself into the song so beautifully, and it all blended into one gorgeous, harmonious whole. It doesn't hurt that One Trick Pony's songs are so finely crafted either.
When the music is not amplified, it's as if each musician takes special care not to step on the other's performances and a natural audio balance occurs that can only be achieved artificially when the band is miked.
Now I want to see all my favorite bands in a non-amplified setting. I'm grateful for those who do.
By now the gallery was in full party mode and The Voyeurs came on to grab everyone's attention, or at least they gave it a valiant try. Their power pop/indie rock was just what was called for and the fine vocals of Jonathan Hylander and Sean Johnson certainly pleased the upbeat crowd. I wish I could have paid attention to more of their set, but the atmosphere was more party than concert at this point.
And it was all over by 11 o'clock and we all went on our merry ways. All in all, a terrific audio/visual event.