Toronto based, indie synth-rock band Yukon Blonde opened for Nate Mendel’s bad Lieutenant at the Troubadour 4/8/15. It took a while, but we finally posted some photos from their gig.
This band from Altanta Georgia impressed me. Their polished synth and drum driven melodies had the packed house at the The Roxy moving to their beat, and it was pretty clear to see/hear why Red Bull Sound Select decided to showcase their music this month. Having never seen/heard their music before, their live show had a terrific energy that definitely left a very solid first impression on me. With the right material (songs) and the right push (marketing) this band has all of the potential to break into an already crowded market.
“[…] Mercy Beats was already playing and the crowd was slowly starting to fill out a bit […] Dude on vocals was hitting a lot of clean high notes over a retro 80s pop rock / new wave kind of vibe. Pretty fun. Light. Very danceable […] and the lead guitarist was playing a double necked guitar. So that was happening. What was I feeling? Human League? A-ha? Duran Duran? Definitely A-ha. Dude’s voice was really up there and was channeling a “Take on Me” kind of vibe […] [T]hese guys had some swagger on the stage. Overall, the word that keeps leaping into my head is “fun”. They were good fun. Easy to imagine them turning on a shit ton of people dancing their collecting balls off […].”
PHOTOS: Spoke with the folks working the lights after The Mercy Beat finished their set to ask about whether “red” was going to be the lighting theme for the evening. Was informed that the band specifically asked for red lighting.
THOUGHTS: I don’t know how many times can I say it. I love this band. When I first saw them play opening for Omar Souleyman, I knew that I’d have to see them play again. Catching them at Culture Collide was my third time this year (the second time was at Echo Park Rising). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you’re a fan of the post-punk sounds of the Talking Heads, I’m sure you’ll dig this band. They are heading out on tour for the month of November, and I suggest you buy a ticket and check them out. Seriously. Buy a ticket. Check these guys out.
THOUGHTS: These guys were great to watch live. This Brooklyn-based group of transplanted Southerners have a brand of Americana (a rocking and rolling, country sound) that is a perfect soundtrack for a beautiful summer afternoon by the sea. Having released an album in 2013, the group is planning to release their sophomore album in early 2015, and it was produced by Aaron Dessner, a member of The National who writes the majority of their music (Listen to the track by CLICKING HERE). Look, if The Lone Bellow are good enough for Mr. Dessner, it’s good enough for me.
Opening for Omar Souleyman was the Los Angeles-based, indie neo-disco band De Lux. I had gotten a little sampling of their music online, but listening to this band’s music live was something else.
De Lux is a favorite of KCRW DJs across the board (they are one of the few acts that ALL of the DJs play in their sets). I could hear why.
They may be a young band, but their sound is pretty damn sophisticated. A little synth-pop, a little electronic, a little disco, a little punk, a little funk … their music is a mish-mosh of styles that really blends together into a unique, almost throwback, sound.
I got to chat with a couple of the guys in the band after their set, and couldn’t help but rave about their sound. Though they’ve heard it before, I really emphasized my observation that their music really reminded me of the Talking Heads. Seaun Guerin, one of the founders and the lead vocalist, in particular, has a voice that’s as oddly wonderful as David Byrnes’ voice.
These guys are playing at the upcoming free music festival in Los Angeles, Echo Park Rising, August 15th-17th (TBD). I’m going to try and make it out for their gig. Hopefully, I’ll be able to snap some more pics of them jamming out.
Opening for De Lux and Omar Souleyman was a local band named The Slightlys. Performing in a local “battle of the bands” contest, they won their right to play the pier after weeks of competition.
This preteen band (the oldest member of the band is only 18) took the stage and put on a very impressive show. Their sound was clean and their stage presence was impressive. If they had jitters, it wasn’t noticeable. I was particularly impressed with the catchy hooks of several of their songs. Their music reminded me a little bit of mix of Fall Out Boy and Jellyfish.
Whoever picked them as the winner of the competition picked well. Only time will tell if this band will stick together to record and play more music, after all, it’s tough to keep a band together especially when college is around the corned. Hopefully, they keep making music and developing their sound.
I had a couple chances to take some actions shots, but I was woefully unprepared as I think I set my aperture too wide and parts of the action in the pics were too blurry. Oh well, you live and you learn.
Headlining the first concert of the 2014 Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier was the lo-fi, psychedelic, indie pop duo Cults. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivian’s 60’s infused, experimental pop music received great acclaim in 2010 and 2011 with strong reviews by publications like NME and Pitchfork.
I was particularly attracted to their latest album “Static” (released in 2013) as it basically told the story of the duos tumultuous relationship, which ultimately didn’t last. The darkness and somber tones of the music and lyrics of that album, for me, is a great straight listen (meaning, you can press play on the album and not have to fast forward any of the songs).
However tumultuous their break up may have been, it was obvious that any personal antagonism between them had been squashed as there was no tension between the two while performing. In fact, the only tension I could sense was with the person working the mixing board as I could tell Madeline, perhaps, had a difficult time hearing herself. Was it just me, or were there no monitors on stage?
The Cults’ music, especially with their latest release, is quite intricate and layered with sound. And where the recordings delicately balanced the music against the vocals, with the vocals at times just hovering over the music, the mix for their performance had the music slightly overpower the vocals. For example, when the instrumentation was minimal, like on the verses of “So Far”, I could hear Madeline’s vocals just fine. But when there was a swell of music, it often drowned out the vocal performance.
Despite any hiccups with mixing, Cults powered through their set and performed all of their hits from both their first and second albums, and even returned to the stage for an encore. Having grown up in Southern California, they thanked the crowd and expressed their sincere appreciation for being able to perform back in their stomping ground.
Below are Instagram clips from most, if not all, of the songs from Cults’ set at the Santa Monica Pier as part of the Twilight Concert Series. Enjoy.
Whenever I have friends visiting Los Angeles during the summer and they ask me for suggestions, I always recommend attending a concert at the Santa Monica Pier. After all, there isn’t a much better way to spend a summer day/eve, at the beach with a picnic listening to some quality music.
For the past 30 years, the Santa Monica Pier has been hosting an extremely well-curated summer concert series known as the “Twilight Concerts”. This year, their line-up is as impressive as I’ve ever seen it.
On July 10th, the concert series kicks off with a critically acclaimed rock band from New York: Cults. This duo saw their music spread virally when they posted some of their music to their Bandcamp page sometime in 2010. Music publications like Pitchfork and NME have been gushing about their pop-rock sound, which led them to get signed to Columbia Records and releases their first major label, self-titled album. Having released their sophomore album, titled “Static” in late 2013, They have been touring in support of their debut album since, and are going to shine their sunny brand of pop-rock on the pier this coming Thursday. I, for one, am looking forward to checking them out for the first time.
Also performing on the pier, opening for Cults, is the band James Supercave. They are currently supporting their latest release, “The Afternoon EP” and their music is an eclectic mix of electronic pop music. Their lead singer’s voice reminds me of Modest Mouse’s lead singer, Isaac Brock, but their music feels more along the lines of a Passion Pit or Phoenix, with a rougher “rock” edge. As long as traffic doesn’t get the better of me, I hope to catch their set as well.