Seahaven - Looking forward to a night of punk rock or hardcore or whatever these three bands concoct here at the Red Palace. There is a large crowd here early as crowds with 'x'es on their hands know how to show up and support their bands. But there are a few old fogies joining me to take in this LA four-piece. The first song is surprisingly basic rock without a lot of flourish or character. The second song was much improved with a power-pop/punk combination that elevated things up a bit. Unfortunately, the rest of the set only infrequently achieved that level. Nothing terribly wrong, just basic rock music that needs to work itself out in LA clubs like the Velvet Lounge (or the Red Palace) before it hits the other coast. Hearing lyrics like "I'm just a rat in a maze" did not only hit my cliche switch, but had me wondering when my next night off would be.
Pianos Become Teeth - Trying to avoid becoming too crabby as the club is finally pumping in a little cool air for this excitable crowd, this Baltimore five-piece is ready to rock. And rock they did as my mood brightened considerably. Clearly, right from the outset, these guys were on to a very clever sound. They combined hardcore and shoegaze in a perfect balance of intensity and intrigue. It was akin to the offspring of Mogwai and Gray Matter (well side 2 of record 2 at least). Lots of great shifting melodies and powerful rhythms kept this set flowing really well as the crowd was more amped up than usual. This was highly engaging music and they sucked me right into their controlled maelstrom. A more modern comparison maybe if you combined Tone with the Mostly Dead (of course seeing two of the latter band in the crowd had me thinking of them). No matter, this was an excellent set and showed me what modern hardcore can do when the bands have some creativity.
Touche Amore - Speaking of creative hardcore, this LA quintet offers yet another example tonight. Not so much shoegaze here, although guitars have a rich sound. But there is more creative songwriting than I would expect to hear from a hardcore band (or indie rock band for that matter). This sounds every bit as strong as the best of the classic harDCore era from here to the west coast, yet there is a modern fresh appeal as well. Crowd surfing, sing alongs, intense but not violent pit... all the usual accoutrements made for a fun time. I even heard some Neil Young in the quieter moments, few that they were. The front man was excellent although it did get me thinking that all singers tonight were a bit one-note in spite of the creative moves in the song. But that is true for a whole lot of bands in any genre, so it was not a real negative. And with the front man intensity used to work the crowd, it's more of a positive anyway. But enough mental meanderings, this set rocked along and kept my mind active, too. That is on the high end of what I wanted tonight.
Quote of the Night: I didn't come up with anything good today, so I am going to reach back to Junior High School. The year is 1973. We made our way to English class before our teacher who was feeding her nicotine habit in the teacher's lounge. A real hard case student lit a cigarette in the room stinking it up. When Mrs. Reese came in, we all made fun of her bringing the smell into the room. She denied that there was a smell and brought in a male teacher to enforce that point of view (ok, lie). Mr. Blair comes in and tells us all to settle down as there was no smell. Then my buddy Steve kicked in..
Steve: "Oooh, sure that's right."
Mr. Blair: "Shut up! or I'll cut your hair."