House parties in Los Angeles can be hit or miss. More often misses, than hits. At Toddchella, I discovered what it takes to make a house party a sure-fire hit (i) have the house party at a really cool location, (ii) have fully stocked bars with bartenders, (iii) have vending machines that dispense party essentials (i.e. lighters, cigarettes, condoms…), (iv) have a free taco truck, (v) have a very cool photographer capture the evening, and (vi) have live music that kicks some serious booty.
Held at the Penfield Mansion, Toddchella celebrated the birthday of Todd Hurvitz. Though I had only met Todd once- perhaps twice- before, I’ve hung out with his friends on several occasions at concert events like Coachella, and they were the ones organizing the shindig. The location aside, the party flyer listed three bands that’d be performing that evening: Tijuana Tears, The Record Company and We Were Indians. Me, being the music junkie that I am, checked out each band’s music. I immediately RSVP’s for the festivities.
Penfield Mansion is located in Woodland Hills, so I booked an inexpensive room at a local hotel so I could have a place nearby to crash. Such a good call. Unaware that there would be full spread of food at the party, I stopped by a local market to pick up some late night munchies (roast beef sandwich, mac and cheese, and a large bottle of water) just in case. After settling into the hotel, I called a cab to drive me 2 miles to the spot.
I have the cab pull me up to the entrance of the driveway, and I notice a black SVU parked out front. Inside is my friend Lyndsey who was one of the peeps in charge of putting the event together. I say, “Hi,” then let her alone to take care of her business with the bouncer of the event. After walking up the steep driveway, I let myself into the house that Frank Sinatra once lived in.
It was early, about 8:00pm, but the party seemed to have already been kick-started. I do a short walkthrough of the venue, especially impressed with the views and the full bar, then make my way to the kitchen/living room area where the early crowd had congregated to watch the end of the final four matchup between Michigan and Syracuse. I see a couple of my friends hanging out on the couches, and I pull up a wooden rocking chair to join them. Even though there was a full bar, I still brought a good bottle of scotch to sip on (Macallan 12) and open it up, pouring glasses for my friends that wanted some. Following the conclusion of the game, I head to the back yard where the bands had set up. The first band was about to take the make-shift stage.
Tijuana Tears was the first band to take the stage. A five man band that came together in 2012, they released a 5 song EP on September 14, 2012 called “Phantasmic Consciousness”. Team Toddchella did good in having this band open the night. Their sound was kind of music you want to hear when you’re starting the evening. It was the kind of music that lets you know that the party was about to get fun. Having only released one EP, their set was relatively short, but it was the perfect kick-off. Reza in the band gave me the set list, and it is below:
1. “Oceans”: When this song started, I felt that there was definitely a Cali influence. For some reason it reminded me (excluding the intro) of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The bass line and vocal melody felt very Flea and Keidis.
2. “Howl”: When this song started, I had a feeling that some of the guys in the band were from Texas. A very Tex Mex punk, hillbilly vibe.
3. Bryce Alber guitar solo.
4. “Beloved Venus”: A solid pop-rock song.
5. “Woman To Serve”: A solid rock and roll, blues number. A song that cresendos into a heavy frenzy.
6. “Phantasmic Conciousness”: They concluded their set with a song that I liked the most off the EP. It’s sound reminded me of Local Natives, but with more soul. Especially effective use of using call and response with the audience to sing along at the end with, “Whoa, what I say goes”.
The evening had officially started for me. This band got the adrenaline in my system pumping. As the band was putting away their equipment, I briefly introduced myself to the band. I ended up having a brief convo with Bryce, the singer. I offered the band some of my scotch. Bryce accepted.
This is a band that you need to see live. Their recordings are great, but their live sound has so much energy and joie-de-vivre. I was especially impressed with Bryce’s vocal timbre. With the scotch starting to set in, I think I may have made some silly comparisons, like telling Bryce that he reminded me of how Jamiroquai may have sounded if he grew up in the mid-west, and how during certain passages of certain songs I had Jeff Buckley flashbacks. Needless to say, I was impressed with his live performance.
One band down, two to go…