Monday, April 28, 2008

A PGMG Reunion, so soon?

don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that Pretty Girls Make Graves are opening for their spin-off group Jaguar Love...less than one year after their "Farewell" tour. I guess it just goes to show, you can't keep a good band down.

See for yourself

PGMG - Sad Girls Por Vida @ Their "Final (LA)" show last year

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Yeasaer win the high school talent show at the Ukraine Center

Remember talent shows in school? There was always the one act that was headed to the neon lights and the rest were destined for business school. That's what the Yeasayer show felt like last Friday at the Ukrainian Cultural Center.

Assembly Anyone?

Despite buying tickets in advance, everyone had to wait in one line to pick them up from Scoops Ice Cream shop around the corner. Something about the U.C.C. being a tax exempt building prevented actual money from being exchanged within its walls. For those of us over 21, we could also buy drink tickets from Scoops! $3 a piece or 5 for $10. Yippee. Of course, at $3 a drink, it wasn't no Stella or Kettle One. Inside the U.C.C. amongst the Cyrillic posters were signs for Vegan hot dogs ($3 too). This show really felt more like a fund raiser too get a new Coke machine than a show by one of the best new bands of the year.

On to the show. The first act. Sucked. I'll skip talking about them. Ok, twist my arm-it was a guy and girl "singing" and "dancing" over cheesy dance beats programmed into a drum machine. I think they wrote the material while in line for Scoops.

The second act, Death Set, was the punk rock band that your friends were in in high school that always played in the quad. "Wake up and let's turn this into a Punk Rock show" yelled the singer. I haven't heard that since the last time I saw Social Distortion. With 2 drum kits set up on the floor and zero lights, it actually was kind of cool...if the music didn't sound like the first sentence of this paragraph.

Death Set

Finally, at 11:30 Yeasayer took the stage. 3 months after the fateful show at the Echoplex where a girl was hit with a maraca (and whose boyfriend was more pissed about it than she was), the band did not seem too happy about playing here. Opening with Worms, they played a 40 minute set with only 1 real break to talk to the crowd.
Singer Chris Keating thanked everyone for not going to Coachella although something tells me they planned their tour to land them in LA this weekend in the hopes that a slot would open. There was the scent of bitterness in the air.

No Need To Worry, the song previously involving maracas, was this evening played with a tambourine. Keating through it at the already destroyed cymbal half a dozen times nearly ricocheting it into the face of their drummer.

Yeasayer - No Need To Worry

Thankfully, they were able to close the set with Sunrise this time which was absent from the Echoplex show.

I didn't even bother sticking around for No Age. I'd seen enough mediocre music earlier in the evening to last me through May.

Yeasayer - Sunrise

Designers in Moscow at the Echo.

aka Buildings in Echo Park, aka Architecture in Helsinki gave a few of us a sneak preview of their Coachella set Wednesday night at the Echo. Thank openers The Ruby Suns for spilling the beans on their myspace page a few weeks earlier when they toured through with Le Loup.

The scene was surprising unpacked considering the speed at which secret shows travel in LA over the LAist/LastFM/random blogger airwaves. There were only about 20 people in line 20 minutes before the first band, The Happy Hallows, played. Nathalie and I took decided to grab some nive $2.50 margaritas up the street. When we returned, The Happy Hallows had just begun, and the crowd had crawled out of the woodwork.

The female singer/guitarist of The Happy Hallows was sort of a Karen O meets Marnie Stern with her spunky, spastic, finger tapping guitar playing. Ruby Suns came out with a cymbal even more broken than the previous show which ultimately gave lead man Ryan McPhun I nice slice during the set. That may have explained their near complete disregard for the audience. Great music, poor engagement.

AIH was worth the late night. It was past 11:30 by the time they started and as Nathalie noted, I was already getting the yawns. The perfect remedy though was the upbeat dance-inspired tunes of the aussies. The previously mentioned multi-instrumentalist Ryan joined AIH for their entire set and made me wonder how they ever performed without him.

Architecture in Helsinki

Ryan from The Ruby Suns as special guest

Like most indie bands today, AIH went through instrument swaps between nearly every song. Can't the keyboardist who switches with the guitarist just show him the cool riff he wrote? What's with all the change ups??? Well, they were thankfully quick. Despite the time (Je suis un hibou du nuit) , the band's well of exuberance was deep enough for all us 8-5ers to drink out of.

What's any group of young hipsters without some small nod to the 80's? Before they played Heart It Races, AIH gave us an Oz'ed up take of Mathhew Wilder's Break My Stride.

Break My Stride & Heart It Races

Te crowd was great, the company was great and it was a hell of a lot cheaper than paying to see them in the middle of the f'ing desert.

The Happy Hallows

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ukraine is the new Echo

Seriously. For those of you lucky enough to not be attending Coachella this year (sorry Teresa) you'll be in for a cheaper treat this upcoming Friday. Yeasayer are boycotting (or maybe banned is a better word) such blase clubs as The Echo, Spaceland, and even the Silver Lake Lounge to play the Ukranian Culture Center. The downside? They are opening for No Age. Is that the punishment for tossing hitting a girl with a maraca their last time around? Check my archives for that post.

Tickets here

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Eels + Quantum Mechanics = Happy Cerebellum

Thank you thank you Filter Magazine. And Nathalie too for turning me on to Eels...aka Mark Everett; aka son of Hugh Everett III. That's right. The renowned physicist who dreamed up the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

Leave it to the son of a physicist to thrown convention out the window. Instead of performing with the usual and bland "opening act", Eels showed a documentary of the life of the Mark Everett (why Mr. Everett the 3rd stopped the naming tradition was not discussed). The primary focus of the documentary was Mark's travels to his fathers former haunts to meet with his old colleagues in an attempt to understand why he hardly spoke a word at home.

The documentary even included a quite fascinating introduction to QM. Fascinating in the sense that it clearly conveyed a complicated concept to a statistically non-science crowd in terms that piqued their interest-I know because Nathalie asked to read my Feynman Lectures books afterwards.

Only one other musician performed with Mark, his faithful sidekick, Chet. Chet was a man of many musical hats. His ability to make a hand saw weep was perhaps the most impressive/unusual talent I've seen in a while. Chet was also required to read excerpts from E's new book.

Things Grandchildren Should Know

Another amazing feat occurred when Mark abandoned his piano and took over the drum kit from Chet mid song-one drum stick and kick pedal at a time. The final question I suppose is, "Would you have gone if it weren't free?" Hmmm...tough call.

One things for sure, seeing that Dirac notation again really made me want to crack open those QM books for a look.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

People really do win tickets from Filter.

I just received an email from Filter Magazine letting me know I've won Eels at the El Rey. I can't count the number of times I've responded to their weekly free ticket emails only to come to conclusion that:

a. They laugh at everyone's stories of why they really deserve to go to the show and hand them out to their friends instead.

b. Don't have any tickets to begin with. I mean, come on, every week? Nearly every show worth seeing?

Kudos and thank you Filter.

P.S. Replace "Filter Magazine" with "Trader Joes use-your-own-bag Giveaway" as well. You can see my extatic face on the wall at the TJ's on Pico with a $25 gift certificate in hand.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How to embarrass humanity in front of Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt gave a sneak preview of her directorial debut of Then She Found Me last night at the Aero Theater. Afterwards, she came down to the stage for a surprisingly insightful and lengthy interview discussing the difficulties getting the film financed, the shortfalls she dealt with, and her reasons for choosing to both star and direct.

Then, leave it to the Q&A to reaffirm the need for celebrities to be rushed away immediately once the interview is over.

Awkward Question 1:
"I, like you, have been trying to direct and star in my own film for 6 months now. Do you have any advice on how I can get my movie picked up by a studio?"
(very nicely) "Well, you just have to keep trying." Question asker, she's Helen Hunt. If it was that hard for her to get a movie picked up, you're lucky she didn't tell you to get your own hit TV series, star in an Oscar winning role, and know just about everyone in the business.

Awkward Question 2:
"Watching the movie, I was thinking how much the character was reminiscent of my own life. You see, I could not have children either and ultimately adopted two Guatemalan's myself after my husband left...blah blah blah. Why did you choose to go with the adoption story line?".
"Oh, that's great. I see them sitting next to you. One is smiling, the other is playing his Nintendo DS." To the lady with crazy life, you related to fictional characters based on a novel that Helen did not write. She does not need to hear your sob story-nor does anyone else in the theater.

and award for Awkward Question goes to:
"Is it possible for you to be more sensitive to the worship of our Lord savior Jesus Christ? I pray to Jesus and found it very disrespectful to have his name taken in vain many times during the movie. I love your work by the way."
great Answer
"Well, the movie's made. That's in there. And that's me." Wow. way to separate the celebrities from the public front-row-religious-psycho-question asker. I would have felt a more appropriate response from Helen to have been an exit, stage left.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Xiu Xiu @ The Echo, Los Angeles 4/11/08

Sometimes you're in the mood for a cacophonous, feedbacky, ear-drum splitting show and sometimes you aren't. And when you aren't, it's very hard to stay tuned in to the music when you spend half the show cringing from the pain resonating through your head.

I'm sorry to say Xiu Xiu put on one of those types of shows Friday night at The Echo. Here to perform tracks from their new release Women As Lovers, the overly sold old crowd (with 300 people left outside waiting to get in) shouted out their request for I Love the Valley Oh throughout the entire set.

While the multi-instrumentation use was a spectacle to behold, it's overuse negated it's presence. New Zealanders The Ruby Suns did more with less last weekend on the same stage.

The Ruby Suns

The highlight of the performance was watching drummer Ches Smith and his outstanding use of his oversized, I repeat, OVERSIZED percussion kit (I would hardly compare it to a standard kit). From what I could see, Ches had a smorgasbord of deformed cymbals, mega-bass drum, a ride the size of a small UFO, and various implements sitting on top of his floor tom while he played it. As if that weren't enough, he controlled the drum pad as well.

Due to Xiu Xiu's constant instrument switch-ups, there were many awkward silent moments between songs. Those sorts of moments where a misplaced cricket could feel right at home. There was more banter between singer Jamie Stewart and the sound man than the crowd. From the sounds of it, sound check had magnificently sounding monitors which decided to follow the 300 people who couldn't get in to another Silver Lake bar for the night. Where they, and their hearing were probably better off.