Sunday, June 14, 2009

Brightblack Morning Light and Others

I've been introduced to and reacquainted with a bunch of bands over the last few weeks, like Deep Sea Diver, The Faraway Places, Local Natives and Greater California, and one of the best was his Orchestra, who I saw open for The Wooden Birds May 28 at Spaceland.

I picked up their CD, Field Guide To the Wilds, and it has given me endless hours of listening pleasure. It's sublime indie pop. his Orchestra opened for Dead Meadow last year at Echoplex in November and I remember being impressed at the time, but I didn't follow up, so they fell off my radar. That won't happen again.

I really wanted to write about the Brightblack Morning Light show at the Eagle Rock Center For the Arts on May 29, 2009, but have been too swamped to write, until now. I also wanted to show some photos shot by Lisa Svenson, a fellow concertgoer. There couldn't have been a better venue for this band than this fabulous 1914 mission revival historical building. Once the band took the stage and filled the auditorium with fog so thick you could barely see the person next to you. Which is kind of perfect considering the introspective nature of the music.

The swelling, lugubrious dirge-like pace maintained by Rachael Hughes moody keyboard, coupled with the somnambulant vocals of Nathan Shineywater (at left) sent the entire room into a trance that lasted for the two hours they played. The minute the familiar sound they create washes over the room, people were either sitting or lying on the floor and stayed that way until the end. They play extended versions of song that sound familiar from their albums resulting in about six songs over the course of the two hours. There's an elemental simplicity in the delivery of the music that sometimes makes it seem like just an alternate version of inhaling and exhaling. The beat seems to match human breathing patterns. All I could think of was molasses rolling uphill in sub-zero temperatures.

Wonderful back up singers and instrumentalists rounded out the sound, though I did miss the horn section that appears on their recorded work. They're back in town for a show at El Rey on June 27, opening for Rodriguez, and this band's sound could easily fill a venue that size.

Fol Chen had a great bon voyage show at The Echo on June 4, 2006, before they took off for their first ever shows in London. But first Karin Tatoyan burned down the house with a fiery set that was as electrifying as it was emotional. Fortunately I've seen her enough times so the songs are becoming familiar (we need a CD) and they become more powerful the more you hear them. I was honestly moved to the brink of tears more that once. There an unbearable beauty in her voice that is transportive. She had the audience enthralled.

Then Fol Chen launched into a set highlighting their biggest and best hits. No doubt, the set list they'll use to wow London, and all the songs sounded in top form. But the startling highlight was the great singer who came on stage to sing "The Idiot" with only Adam on guitar. It was hair-raising and the crowd went wild for it.


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