You know, there were a lot of shows to see this past September. And, lucky me, I got to see bunches!
My month got off to a soulful start, as I went with my Amoeba alums up to the Hollywood Bowl on a chartered school bus to see the Spinners open for Hall & Oates.
As we drove up, there was a posse of young men walking in with curly dark hair and Oates moustaches, which drew hearty applause from us geeks. The Spinners started up, and everyone knew every song. The dancing was good, although not particularly synchronized (and I'm talking about the well dressed men on stage - maybe they just forgot the moves?). Hall & Oates? Amazing. How Daryl Hall can sing the way he does is a small miracle - talk about blue eyed soul! The show ended somewhat abruptly - there was no encore - and I read later that hall wasn't feeling too hot. Well, you couldn't tell, and evidently I was the only one who was okay with the fact that "Private Eyes" was left off the setlist that night. The Amoeba kids got our section singing an enthusiastic rendition of it to make up for that fact.
Back on the 11th, I was whisked off by my pal Buzz for some Art Brut. He had made me see them at Coachella a couple years ago, and although I thought the album was okay, I fell in love with the live show. This evening was no exception. We bounced happily on the floor while Eddie Argos ranted in his calculated British way about girls, drinking, and Morissey. Among other things. I LOVE that guy. Brains turn me on, evidently.
The next night was the continuing Buddy residency at the lovely Bordello (formerly Little Pedro's) downtown. Buddy is a star of the local Hotel Cafe crowd, and it was great to see him there out of his element. First on the bill was the lovely Sally Jaye, an Americana singer with more than a touch of Hope Sandoval in her - I swear that if you added more reverb to some of her songs, you'd have Mazzy Star. Her voice is beautiful and inviting, and even from the stage she makes you feel like you're her best friend at a cozy dinner.
Everest, local sensitive rockers, rounded out the bill with intensely catchy new stuff, previewing their upcoming album. These indie-country-ish guys are heading into quite an October... The Autumn Fest in Big Sir and Neil Young's revered Bridge School benefit concerts are next on their list, with a new full length any second. (photo by Shayna Peveler)
And then... Justin Timberlake.
I have to say, I expected much more screaming from the young ladies present. I think there was more of a commotion when the Beckhams arrived than during the show. The audience was having a blast - don't get me wrong. I just remember seeing Duran Duran in 1982 and not being able to hear a goddamn thing.
Raquel and I had very, very good seats. Justin's concert-in-the-round concept worked in our favor, as we saw an awful lot of the kid. He put on a great show. Really great. Just enough dancing, real live singing, and oodles of charm. Oh yea, and Timbaland did the intermission music, as it were. And Kanye West dropped in. (OK, I sort of lost my shit at that moment.)
(This video was taken by someone sitting very close to us, because I essentially saw the same thing. Total coolness.)
Me, Kevs, the BFF, Giselle and Skye were all supposed to see the White Stripes that week, but Meg fell apart. I know how you feel, Meg - hang in there!
So we wiped our tears and went on... to the Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem show at the Bowl. LCD was a blast - but I think I would have liked it better in a sweaty club after a few drinks. I felt too detached from the party. Even the new tracks were fun - as they had taken some getting used to for me when I got the record.
Arcade Fire are legendary for their live shows, and deservedly so. The intensity and joy they project from the stage can't help but affect the audience. I hadn't seen them since the release of "Neon Bible," a record I think is lovely but on the dour side, so I wondered how it would come across live. Well, lovely and dour. The energy of the night came, more often than not, from the older material, and there was plenty of singing and dancing for all. And headbanging, screaming, laughing, clapping, etc...
On the 21st, it was Cat Power. The first two times I'd seen her, she ran off the stage in tears, apologizing for sucking. It was heartbreaking. I wouldn't buy tickets to her shows anymore, since she never seemed to go through with them anyway. But at Coachella two years ago, I caught some of her new and improved set, and it was good. So I was only too happy to go with Kevs and Skye to see her at the Avalon with her Dirty Delta Blues Band. She did loads of covers - both from her covers album as well as her upcoming covers album, and she sort of did covers of her own music... All of her own sings which she performed had been almost completely re-arranged, rendering them practically unrecognizable unless you figured out the lyrics right away. It could be both frustrating and amazing, and I applaud her courage to do that. She sounded amazing, was happy and joking with the crowd, and played a great show. See? There's a reason I love cats.
That Saturday, I went to Safari Sam's to check out Sally Jaye again. She was playing a benefit which was hosted by the of the five Kids in The Hall: Dave Foley, Bruce McCullough, and Kevin McDonald. I LOVED Kids in The Hall. Between each band set, they guys would do a couple skits. They'd fuck up and laugh, they'd improve, but mostly, they were hilarious. Those guys are genius, no matter what they do, it seems. I left after seeing a rocking set by Brian Wright and the Waco Tragedies, more rough and tumble Americana stuff which had Dave Foley up in front hootin' and hollerin'.
The following week, there was a great freebie show at Hollywood and Highland - if you took the subway. The subway? In L.A.? Damn straight. Ladytron and Great Northern played in the central courtyard area for the car-free and those with cars, if you wanted to stand up on the walkways, as many people did. Great Northern represented - Rachel's voice was beautiful as always, their indie only adding to the blue twilight atmosphere of the evening. When the sun was finally down, Ladytron came on, lights blazing and synthesizers synchronized. Oh, there are lots of other instruments too, but you really notice those keyboards, don't you?
And finally, winding up the month, DeVotchka. I'd be in love with Nick Urata, the dramatic lead singer of the group, if he didn't take the whole hobo/gypsy thing so literally. He looks like he just rolled out of the back of a train half the time, bottle of red wine in one hand and guitar in the other. It's quite charming, and they mesmerize me with that whole mariachi-spaghetti western-polka-gypsy musical styling. How can you argue with a band that uses tuba and cello and trumpet and accordian as well as the standard bass-guitar-drum combo? Not me, that's for sure.
Now to head into Rocktober! After I get some sleep.