Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Everest and Red Cortez at Hammer Museum (7/9/09)

I bussed out to the UCLA Hammer Museum in Westwood to see the July 9th installment of their Thursday night concert series that features great local indie bands in the courtyard under the stars. It's a pleasant setting and worked well for both Red Cortez and Everest.

I was very happy to see these bands again as they've both been out of town on concert tours, opening for heavyweights like Neil Young, in the case of Everest, and Morrissey for Red Cortez, both hand picked by the headliners themselves.

Had a nice catch-up with Harley Prechtel-Cortez and Travis and Kinser of Web In Front. Red Cortez (at right on tour in Athens, GA) will be around town until September, when they hit the road, joining The Airborne Toxic Event and The Henry Clay People for another cross country tour. I was happy to meet up with Russell Pollard of Everest, who I haven't seen in such a long while. He and the band are happy to be home and he told me they'd be introducing a lot of new material tonight.

The band took the stage and played a rousing set of a few favorites and a bunch of new songs I had never heard before. They never play the same set twice, that I've seen. The west side audience bounced along to the music that they delivered with their trademark exuberance. Harley astonished the crowd, as usual, with his passionate and soulful singing, turning his talent for the piano on for the final number.

Everest played a set of mostly unfamiliar material that continues in the strong songwriting style we've come to expect from them. Russell writes classic sounding rock and roll in the folk/country style so prevalent in the '70's music I grew up with. In fact you could listen to any number of great '70's bands and drop Everest numbers in between song and sense no disparity at all. This isn't to say that they sound particularly retro. It's just the parity of quality one would notice.

If anything, extensive touring has honed their live performances into models of economy and precision. Few bands play so well live, or play such rock-solid sets. As I said when I first saw them on April 23, 2007 at Spaceland (there was already buzz about them) playing during The Minor Canon residency, they were born fully formed. And in the subsequent shows I saw, they just reconfirmed the promise they began with and just got better and better. Everest is still on that upward trajectory.

The Hammer has a great series of Thursday night concerts that really help expand the community and are worthy of your support...and they're free. There's another one this Thursday, July 23, with Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros and Eskimohunter. More free music in the city now known as the free music capital of the world.


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