Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September - Various Shows and Sets

So many memorable shows and events have been happening lately that I can't keep up. Never did I expect what writing a music blog would bring. Every day there seems to be more opportunity, another path to follow, more people to meet, more fun to be had. The friends I've made in the music community are best surprise of all. Kind of revives my faith in humanity. (Provided I can continue to avoid tea-baggers and other knuckle-draggers.) Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglove of The Swell Season, above.

September has been a good month for shows beginning with Mew wowing a sold out crowd at The Troubadour on the 1st, followed by Division Day 's record release show the following night at Spaceland. The Happy Hollows spectacular performance was next, on the 4th, for their own release party for Spells, which was also a party to remember.

On Sunday, Sept. 6th, I attended the Rodgers and Hammerstein concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which was specifically set up to honor the film versions (and their orchestrations) of the original Broadway shows. (scene from The King and I above) They showed selections from the films with the orchestral tracks removed, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra provided live underscoring, conducted by the son of Alfred Newman (one of the original orchestrators) David Newman. It was like dying and going to Rodgers and Hammerstein heaven for someone who was raised on these things.

Elaine Layabout hosted one helluva "Hella Hipster Hoedown" featuring eight scheduled bands, including Crooked Cowboy, Les Blanks and Country Pizza!, but it was Telegraph Canyon (above), who took the stage near midnight, that played a near perfect set of their beautifully written rock. Hailing from Texas, they were here a couple of months ago for another hoedown, but since seeing them then, I got hooked on their wonderful CD, The Tide and The Current. Now, I knew the material and to hear them deliver such a powerful and serious performance, it was almost humbling. They really impressed those present and we were still talking about it days later.

On Saturday, the 12th, I saw an impressive show by Brendan Benson at The Troubadour, that opened with a set by Frank Fairfield that had the crowd cheering. From the 17th to the 20th I took in four shows in four days beginning with the Sea Wolf/Afternoons/Sara Lov night at The Troubadour and back to the same venue the following night for Everest and The Parson Red Heads which made for two nights on the West Side of sterling East Side indie rock.

Friday was the Release party for Cobra Lilies, hosted by Elaine, again at the Legion 206 in Highland Park, which included a fashion show that involved murder, and a wonderfully hypnotic, oddball set from Amanda Jo Williams followed by a set by Tommy Santee Klaws (above) that showed the uninitiated what I have been raving about the last few months. This is one amazing band with a wholly unique sound that left people breathless.

Sunday was the engrossing show at the Masonic Lodge of Hollywood Forever Cemetery with The Swell Season where Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova enchanted a great Los Angeles audience in one of the best shows of the year. I reviewed it for Radio Free Silver Lake.

I got to present my second show last Friday, September 25, together with Dramaturgy, featuring The Faraway Places, who delivered their '60's influenced indie rock with great style and conviction, following a real audience grabbing set of Creedence Clearwater Revival covers by Ramble Scramble that had the rather large crowd dancing. The Health Club I enjoy more and more each time I see them and their assured playing is what makes this post-punk garage band stand out.

Sunday, The 25th Annual Abbot Kinney Festival in Venice was my first time at this event and I have to confess, I barely saw the Festival itself, positioning myself in front of the Brooks Little Radio Stage from Dios through Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and saw five remarkable bands in a row. Dios sang wonderful songs from their latest CD, and sounded revitalized by the new material. Followed by a tight set by a three member version of The Parson Red Heads (Sam, Brett and Evan, in photo) who sang beautiful three-part harmonies. French singer/now indie rocker, Soko, was a real surprise, giving us country-tinged psychedelic rock that I fell for on the spot. Eskimo Hunter play a kind of easy, melodic indie rock style that is probably my favorite and I was glad to finally see this band and, as of now, they are the band I want to see again immediately. Really beautiful music.
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (above photo by Michael Camacho for LAist)were a revelation. Just before they took the stage, there was a sudden rush of media that flooded the stage. The buzz on this band must be huge and I must say, judging from this performance, the rush is justified. An electric set was performed, with Edward, not 16 inches from my face at times and it was a superb way to get to know them. I saw them once before at El Cid at 1 AM the night of the '08 Sunset Junction and they played for about 14 friends that night. A LOT has happened since then.

Blitzen Trapper finally played the set I've been waiting to see them play on Monday, Sept 28, at El Rey. Seeing them last year at a packed, hot Echo was a great introduction, but not ideal. I wasn't close enough, though I loved the music. Last July at the Hollywood Bowl, they were undone by the requirement that the opening bands play softly, and across a gulf of indifferent concertgoers. So this show was what Blitzen Trapper are all about. The photo a right is from the Glass House, shot by Doug Kresse. A string of unforgettable songs, great sound, great lights. They play irresistibly rocking songs, occasionally pausing for a song of quiet reflection that is so lovely and profound, there is no lapse in audience concentration. Highlight brilliant new songs from their EP, Black River Killer, the new songs were my favorites of the night, though "God and Suicide" is still one of my favorite songs of all. I'll write a fuller review of this show later.

The month ended with Kevin Bronson's First Anniversary celebration of his Buzzbands blog with a show by Eastern Conference Champions and Voxhaul Broadcast, each releasing EP's at the same event. Both are bands I've heard about over and over, but have neglected to see before, and both were absolutely electric. Terrific songwriting and musicianship with charismatic lead singers, they had the large turnout primed and enthusiastic. Congratulations to Kevin and the most comprehensive music blog in town.

Now we move on to October and what may be the busiest month of the year.


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