I knew that his Orchestra were scheduled to go on at midnight, so I prepared in advance. Stayed home the night before, got rest, came home from work, had dinner and relaxed until I hit the road at around 9:45 PM. They were on a bill with Red Tide and Superhumanoids, who checked out favorably when I listened to their selections on myspace, so I hoped to catch at least one of them.
Superhumanoids were on when I got to the Silver Lake Lounge around 10:30, I grabbed a place on the wall where one can sit and was seduced by their terrific indie pop that is both instantly likeable and different enough to perk up ones interest, and features some nice boy/girl harmonies. Red Tide play a kind of jazz influenced, angular indie rock that reminded me pleasantly of Minus the Bear with some strong and distinctive two part vocal harmonies.
At 12:30 his Orchestra took the stage and, although the crowd had thinned, they still perpetrated their mass hypnosis on everyone who stayed. This band just keeps getting better in my estimation. I have a feeling Field Guide To the Wilds is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what this band is capable of. The album has so many great songs on it that it plays like a greatest hits album from a band that has pruned away all the dross. So much so that the set contained many of my favorite songs of last year.
I asked Douglas Smith (photo at right by email@example.com) at the conclusion, if the songs I didn't recognize were new and he said, "...some of them". They sounded like their best material yet. In addition, they performed CD cuts like a wonderful live version of "Interesting End of the Day", recreated the ironic plunkity-plunk sound of the tragic "Hibernation" with it's nearly-whispered lyrics, and a rousing "Since I" which launches into one of the most infectious musical refrains I know of. Just try standing still.
It was a very impressive set, but best of all was the chance to catch up with his Orchestra and talk to a few of it's members. Douglas said they hadn't had been able to rehearse much, but it didn't show. How do they do it? I was especially glad to tell Paul Cartwright how amazing his violin playing is, and percussionist, Raviv Ullman introduced himself to me. Missed the chance to speak with Kestrin Pantera and rave about her cello or Whitney Martin whose keyboard work is one of the bands anchors, along with her vocals. Winthrop Ellsworth on bass, jumped off the stage once in a while to play on the floor with the audience and at times the whole stage was a writhing, teaming mass of people in motion. They just look like they're having a great time.
I floated out of the place around 1:15 in the morning feeling like it was 8PM. The set only confirmed to me that I chose the best album of last year correctly. Now they're off to SXSW where they have a few dates.
On a separate note: Cheers to The Henry Clay People and their signing with TBD Records, a new cross country tour, and an album in June. When Joey Siara told me a few months ago they were working with Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart, I was very excited by the prospect. Now we'll get to hear the fruit of that collaborative labor. Photo by Jeff Koga.
And if anyone wonders where I was last Sunday night...here's a hint.
photo by sassyqarla