Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Night, Two Shows - (8/9/10) Learning Music at The Echo; Modern Time Machines at Silver Lake Lounge

It was the Fol Chen residency and Learning Music were slated to open and this was going to be the modest start to an attempted marathon of shows for the rest of the week. It was anything but that.

I had neglected local shows for a couple of weeks and seen only a few major shows and I was wondering if I wasn't reaching the satiation point. Like, was I thinking that I'd seen just about everything there was to see? I don't know, but it seems whenever I reach that point, the thing to do is not cut back, but go out to more shows. So that's what I did, and I was rewarded with fantastic sets by old friends and new bands I'd never heard of before. And a renewed appreciation for what is available every night of every week in Los Angeles.

August 9...oddly enough, this date always jumps out at me, every year, as the anniversary of Sharon Tate murders. It was that long hot summer of '69, when I turned 19, and the suspicion that this had been done by a bunch of drug-crazed hippies was upsetting. It was such a particularly disturbing crime at the time because of all the societal ramifications involved. The "kill the pigs" angle; The Beatles lyrics scrawled on the walls in blood; the celebrity status of the victims; the weird, ritualistic aspect of the killings; Charles Mansons's supposed desire to initiate a race war... it almost seemed like fiction or drama or legend, even at the time. Two weeks later I was at Woodstock. But I digress...

So I walk into The Echo fairly early Monday, so not to miss Learning Music, and walk right into the electric set of LESANDS (I think it's all caps). I could instantly see the connection to Fol Chen and see what an appropriate opener choice this was. Dreamy dance music that was so compelling you wanted get right up on stage and dance with the lead singer, Austin Taylor Tirado, who sang as well as he danced. In fact I found the whole set to be full of well written songs, played by a very tight band. I would like to see more of them.

Learning Music first appeared to me at the Bootleg Theatre last March 27, opening for Field Music and what a top notch show that was. The entire audience fell into a state of rapturous hypnosis during the magical musical concoction John Woods puts together from the various pieces of his music combine.

He continues to impress me as one of the most unique talents I've found in the entire local scene. His inventiveness appears limitless and the theatricality of his presentation only heightens the impression that you're witnessing someone who's truly following his own path.

This time Learning Music appeared as a three piece; a drummer and a guitarist augmenting his keyboard and samples and looping tricks, to produce songs that defy every genre classification. It's a free-form jazz/indie/honky tonk/showtunes compost. He appears to go into some kind of trance while performing, oblivious to the fact that he's before an audience, and when he had a sudden narcoleptic episode, falling to the stage (in perfect time to the music) the effect was complete.

Learning Music is continuing a once monthly residency night Thursday, August 26, at Echo Curio and I recommend it most highly. Fol Chen were up next but I could only stay for couple of songs, which had that nice, powerful Fol Chen punch, though the line up was different, again, as I was off to see a band I have been promising to see.

Modern Time Machines (photo at right from that night by Gabriel Fernandez) was performing at midnight at the Twilight Sleep residency at Silver Lake Lounge, and ever since I was befriended by Ben Golomb, and I was able to unload Jefferson Airplane stories on a receptive ear, I have wanted to see his band. All I had to do was hop a Sunset bus, go few blocks west, and I walked right into a different club scene of people swaying back and forth to the luxurious lugubriousness of Twilight Sleep.

I've seen Twilight Sleep under varying circumstances, sometime very good, other times the sound was against them, and if they're not balanced just right, it doesn't work. Tonight it was working, and they sounded quite impressive. I ducked out of the club for some oxygen (?!?) as Modern Time Machines set up. When I got back in, fellow blogger, Greg, had fled The Echo as I had and sought refuge at this show.

It's really fun to go to a couple of shows in one night to see the contrast between the bands and their audiences that are going on concurrently (not to mention all the other simultaneous shows, going on in this city...I swear they must be able to see something pulsating on the North American continent from outer space...and it's Los Angeles).

I stayed for a few numbers to get a feel for the band and I enjoyed it very much. The Lounge crowd had thinned considerably, except for diehards like myself, Jason Ruck from Film School and Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups, so there was no problem seeing the band.

A nice psychedelic stew with strong basic melodies with a pop sensibility, adorned with keys, guitars, various orchestral embellishments and fine lead vocals. I wanted to get a feel for the sound of Modern Time Machines and now I look forward to their show at Spaceland on September 8 with Seasons. But it was late and I wanted to get to a show a night for the rest of the week so I went home. All in all, it was a great Monday night.


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