Los Angeles based rapper KR had one of the opening slots for Mod Sun’s “Look Up Tour”. He’s seems to be making some waves as of late, and was evening featured in an L.A. Weekly article for being a Soundcloud rap phenom. Continue reading
Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow are MS MR, respectively. Though there are a lot of solid electronic music groups fronted by a male and female duos these days (i.e. Phantogram and The Naked and Famous), MS MR distinguish themselves in my eyes because of their stage presence. Lizzy Plapinger is a whirlwind on stage. Her infectious smile is contagious, and her stage presence, whether its cradling the microphone or dancing across the stage, reveals an almost effortless energy. Even Max, positioned behind his keyboard, danced to the music (you can see it in a video clip below). With a sound that embraces elements of both trip hop and pop, combined with extremely capable vocals, handling both delicate ballads and uptempo dance grooves, MS MR appears to be the total package. I have a feeling that I’ll probably be seeing/hearing more from this band especially since it was revealed/announced at the show that Max had just moved to Los Angeles. Welcome to L.A., MR!
Feather’s set was shorter than anticipated. Though I’m not absolutely certain, I think it may have been a result of the technical difficulties that they seemed to be dealing with; which in turn seemed to affect Anastasia Dimou’s (the founder and lead singer) stage presence. The bold music could have used more assertive body language. Notwithstanding the short set, and the technical difficulties, I was really hoping for more as the music was growing on me. I’m a huge Depeche Mode fan, and a thought that crossed my mind was, “this is like a female version of Depeche Mode.” Heavy on synths, with dark and broody overtones, it was music that I could imagine Dave Gahan singing over.
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.
Nicholas Jame Murphy is Chet Faker, and chicks dig him. After hearing a couple of cuts from his latest album “Built on Glass” on NPR- God bless public radio- I scoured the internet to listen to more of his work. I was instantly hooked. To me, his take on electronic music reminded me of James Blake with a more soulful edge. When I heard he was wrapping his U.S. tour with a performance at The Roxy, I jumped at purchasing tickets as soon as they went on sale. Tickets for the show went so fast that The Roxy added scheduled another concert earlier in the week to accommodate the high demand.
Chet Faker is a producer, and his performance was, for the most part, just him, his console and his keyboard. For a couple of songs throughout his set, he brought on additional musicians (a guitarist and drummer) to fill out the sound, but in the dimly lit venue, it was essentially just him and the audience. Some reviews suggest that his performance was perhaps not best suited for a live setting, but I think that sentiment needs a qualifier.
Perhaps if he was performing at the Hollywood Bowl, or a venue whose capacity exceeds 1000, the performance could have used a full band or better stage design (i.e. lighting and effects), but we’re taking about the Roxy Theatre here (an intimate venue whose capacity is only 500), and in my opinion, the intimate setting, coupled with the intimate music, with the artist performing alone to the audience, was completely appropriate, and really the only way Chet should have be introduced to his legion of new fans for the first time. In fact, I thought his cover of Jeff Buckley’s “I Want Someone Badly” (the highlight of the show for me, considering that Jeff Buckley is a major favorite of mine) could have only performed by himself.
Speaking of fans, they were a mix of crazed young females who occasionally screamed, “I want to lick your beard,” to drunk frat boys who were trying to flirt with the girls who were fixated on main act. I could have done with the loud drunk frat boys (ok, maybe not frat boys … but definitely college aged kiddies who had no concept of how to handle their booze) as I actually had a 5 second stare down to get one of them to shut the hell up during one of the songs, but the show was everything good that I anticipated.
Chet Faker is scheduled to perform at the sold-out FYF Fest in Los Angeles, August 23rd, and I am able to find- god, willing- a tickets, I’ll be anxious to see how his set then compares to what I saw at The Roxy.
I’m a fan of Tom Krell’s music. Performing under the stage name “How To Dress Well”, his music has always has always resonated a sadness or longing in me. Whether its his airy falsetto, or the generally dark lyrical topics of his compositions, his music always makes me want to lay on a coach and contemplate life, love, at other personal topics.
When I saw him perform at The Roxy earlier this year, Tom performed “Repeat Pleasure” and noted it was a song about controlling emotions even though you know that “if you do something once, you’ll probably do it again”. He also noted that it was perhaps the most “poppy” songs he had had ever written.
That being said, I suppose one would have expected a music video with an airier, light hearted mood, but I think if that had been done, it would have been so out of character for Tom, his fans, myself included, would have said, “Huh?”
Tom’s music video for “Repeat Pleasure”, which is apparently part 1 of the “What Is This Heart?” (the name of his forthcoming album) trilogy, will pull on your heartstrings. It seems to tell the story of a young man who’s grandfather is gravely ill, and his efforts to take him somewhere familiar before passing. The video is appropriately “How To Dress Well”, and I fully appreciate Tom’s creative vision for his music.
Opening for the Dandy Warhols at the Roxy was the American, psychedelic rock band The Warlocks. Founded in 1998 by Bobby Hecksher, the band has been playing with various lineups since, with Hecksher the only constant member.
With half a dozen albums released since it’s inception (with their latest album, “Skull Worship” being released in November of 2013), The Warlocks concert seemed to cover their entire repertoire (according to a The Warlocks fans standing next to me). When I snagged the setlist (which you can see below) off the lip of the stage, she took a look at it and noted (while giggling) how they abbreviated the names of the songs.
The Warlocks’ music isn’t for everybody. If you aren’t familiar with them, you may assume that their sound is akin to the Grateful Dead (the Grateful Dead’s first name was The Warlocks), but you’d be wrong. Rather, their sound seems to be heavily influenced by the neo-psychedilia and experimental rock of the Velvet Underground. Personally, I was feeling it. I thought that perhaps the start of the set was a bit too downtempo for my tastes, but as it went on, the energy picked up and had me grooving by the end.
The first time I saw Tom Krell p/k/a “How To Dress Well” perform live, I thought to myself, “I really need to see him perform in an intimate club venue.” On March 18th, at The Roxy Theatre, I got my chance.
What intially hooked me to How To Dress Well’s music was twofold. First, the music leaned dark, simple and atmospheric; the kind of music you could press play on a rainy day, lie on a couch and let it sooth you to sleep. Second, I was very partial to Tom’s tender and vulnerable vocals stylings. A lot of male singers can use their falsetto, but not all male singers can use it the way Tom does.
Before the set started, I scanned the room to see what kind of audience was in attendance. I didn’t have to ask. By the looks of it, I may have been the oldest one in the room. I was a bit impressed insofar as the music that’s been released thus far is quite mature (both lyrically and musically). I asked the two fresh faced kids standing to the right of me (who weren’t wearing drinking bracelets) how they got into How To Dress Well’s music, and they said Spotify. I asked the young girl standing to my right the same question. She said Spotify. A quick non-sequitor … even if major recording artists are complaining about the amount they get paid from streaming services like Spotify, it would appear that Spotify led at least 3 kids to spend their extra cash to buy a ticket to see an act like How To Dress Well perform at a Hollywood club on a Tuesday night. Just saying …
The music of the evening was stellar. I knew that Tom was in the process of recording new material, but I wasn’t expecting that he’d be showcasing a lot of the new songs at the gig. It was truly a pleasant surprise for me. He had the drummer from Broken Social Scene play with him (he used a drum machine at FYF Festival) and that added a new life to the music’s live effect. I was again impressed with the way he used his two-mic set up (one mic without reverb and one mic with) to give his songs layers of depth and feeling.
And I was right about wanting to see him perform in an intimate venue. The concert-going experience was magnified 10 fold for me. For How To Dress Well’s music, you want to be captivated. You want to focus on the emotion that Tom is purging from his body and hang on very word/note. Being in an intimate venue afforded Tom the ability to interact and really connect with the audience. When introducing songs, I really got the sense that Tom wanted the audience to connect with its meaning, and it’s a lot easier to do so when the audience is captivated rather than tent-hopping at a festival. When I say intimate, I don’t necessarily mean a small club venue. In fact, if could pick another venue for Tom to perform in, I’d love to see him perform at The Orpheum.
I didn’t quite catch the names of all of the new songs (some of them were still untitled) but I did my best to list them below, together with little concert notes that I took.
- “Two Years” (?): A song about his father
- “The Power” (?)
- “What You Wanted” (?): A song about how you feel when you have a desire that you can’t control
- “Cold Nites”: After he sang this song, he told that audience that he got shivers while he was singing it stating, “That felt really good”
- “If You Were My Girl” (?): A dance song
- “No More Death” (?): He asked for the venue to turn the lights down since it was a “really dark song”
- “I Don’t Know What’s Best For Me” (?)
- “Suicide Dream 1”: A song about a friend
- “Childhood Faith in Love” (?): Inspired by “You Can Have The Best Of Me” by the Starting Line
- “Repeat Pleasure”: A song about controlling emotions even though you know that “if you do something once, you’ll probably do it again”, Tom suggested that this was perhaps the most “poppy” songs he’s written and that it was going to be a big hit
- “Words I Don’t Remember” (?)
- “Set It Right”
- “Baby” (?): Tom mentioned that in the next part of his life, he wants a baby, but that this song is his fear of the fragility of babies, derived from a fear of wondering if a baby is alive while its sleeping (A cappella)
- “Lovers Start” (A cappella)
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