Monday, January 6, 2014

Starting the New Year Right, Part 1

I've apparently made an unconscious New Year's resolution to dive in head first and get out to more shows this year. Apropos to this revelation I went out last Friday night to see the fabulous FOMO Festival 2014 taking place at The Echo and Echoplex. 'FOMO' stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and this also fit in with my desire to catch up with the numerous recently sprouted bands that have cropped up over the past couple of years that I have been missing out on.

One of the main attractions was Avid Dancer, who I HAVE seen a few times already, but as they are making incredible strides with each performance, it's worthwhile to check in with them every few weeks.

Quite a large crowd was gathered at the entrance to the upstairs/downstairs club when I got there around 9:40, and once I got in, Kera and the Lesbians was holding the whole Echo audience in the palm of their hands. This is a band whose lead singer, Kera Armendariz, is a ball of pure energy, and whose impressive guitar and voice punctuates the music with a fierce and electric stage personality. Part funk and all rock, this band has talent to spare and there wasn't a soft spot in the portion of the set I got to witness. They are unique and memorable.

Knowing that there was no way to enjoy all the bands performing that evening, I opted to focus on particular sets. Next up was Lo-Fang, downstairs in the Echoplex. But before they took the stage there was a spoken word artist named John Tottenham, who recited some wonderful and bizarre pieces that hovered close to the edge of tasteless, but were so truthful and highly humorous that it was just kind of wonderful.

Matthew Hemerlein is the mastermind behind the band Lo-Fang. With a voice that sounds classically trained and an equally adept talent for the violin and guitar, he commands full attention because you don't want to miss one note of his beautifully complex compositions. Accompanied by a keyboardist and drummer and occasional pre-recordings, the three build gorgeous, swirling arrangements that easily move from synthy/dreamy/dance music to a classically structured adagio for strings, all tethered to Matthew's phenomenal voice which never sounds forced or over done. I was totally blown away.

They were a tough act to follow, but Avid Dancer was up to the challenge...and then some. Jacob Dillan Summers has fashioned music that recalls the best of sixties pop and tangled it up with melodious contemporary indie rock and the result is magic in the ears. The songs shimmer and shine with a hazy psychedelic ambiance as he discusses love, life, hope, disappointment, and trying to fill prescriptions.

I've known Jacob for a while now and had enjoyed his former band, The Rhone Occupation, but here he leaps to a whole other level. And each time I see them there is marked improvement, even though each time I was convinced they were at the top of their game. Where they go from here is anyone's guess.

Final band, Fever The Ghost, came on around midnight and sounded like a shot of adrenaline, but I had to get home to have energy for my Feed Your Head show the next night, so I couldn't stay. But they have a date at Bootleg Bar next Thursday, January 16th, on a bill with Nightmare and the Cat, Carina Round and The Peach Kings, so there's hope. That sounds like a great show.

Part 2 coming soon...


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