Friday, April 26, 2013

The Happy Casualties at Lot 1 Residency - April 24, 2013

Feed Your Head proudly presented the fourth and final night of the residency at Lot 1 that introduced a newly revamped The Happy Casualties (above) to the world. I've known this band for a while now and seen them through many iterations, but with this line up they appear to have struck just the right combination. With Janet Ramirez taking the lead vocals the band now frequently soars off into the stratosphere with the Casualties' usual Rock and Roll thunder providing a firm and musically potent foundation. Stephen Sigl's songs have a new, tightly wound power both in lyrics and composition that seems more focused and self assured in a style they call "Illuminati Puppet Rock".

But first there was an opening set by Bonorath (that's Bo Bory of Downtown/Union as a solo) and it was very impressive to see this singer, whose vocals are often buried in the dynamic sound of his full band, summon the courage to sing alone with his guitar. It makes extra demands on the music itself and Bo's lyrics are up to the added scrutiny.

Many songs were familiar from the Downtown/Union repertoire, but here sounded more emotional and personal. I was particularly intrigued by his final song which was based on his own experiences in Cambodia as a child and the historical upheaval he experienced. It's tale of terror, violence and flight reminds me of the Arcade Fire song "Haiti" about RĂ©gine Chassagne's similar situation, whose sad commonality is not restricted to a single location.

I spoke to Bonorath afterward about it and he related the story of his family's middle-of-the-night getaway from their home in Cambodia and their ultimate arrival in California. A harrowing tale. His ability to express all this in song is clearly his release and I'm happy he shares it with us. Oh, and he's a pretty descent guitar player on top of that.

My buddies, Haunted Summer were on second and I stayed to listen to a few song before I had to huddle in a pow-wow business meeting (music is a demanding mistress). But from what I heard it is getting stronger and more definite each time I see then. The sexy, head trip music of Bridgette and John seems to take shape somewhere in the space between your ears. They feed you all their hypnotic sounds and leave your brain and senses to figure it out and put it all together making you feel like a collaborator. It's feeding your head in the finest sense. (Look, in the photo above, they made the lights melt!) Just about the time you pass Saturn you lose all earthly connections. Here's a link to some Haunted Summer music.

This was counter balanced by the heroic blast of rock and roll provided by The Happy Casualties. If you think you've heard this band before, you owe it to yourself to go see them again, because they are really on a roll right now. Confident, almost brazen, they command the stage with a strut and determination to envelope you in their blast of hot rock. Look forward to the new record they're working on. It could be a game-changer. Congratulations!

Sorry I had to duck out before the final band, Circus Atari Acrobats, because it sounds like more in the genre of "Illuminati Puppet Rock", which, as if you couldn't tell, is a genre I like. This is a week of night-after-night shows so I had to leave, as I must pace myself...or die.

Meanwhile, Todd sat alone at the, wait a minute...


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