Automatic At The Echo, Monday August 5th 2019
Automatic is the moniker adopted by a new hot trio, and since they have just started their Monday residency at the Echo, this week was a good time to check them out. As it is the case for each night, a bunch of other bands also played, including a surprise appearance by multi-talented and funny man Reggie Watts.
The show started with Future Shoxxx and their saxophone-injected strange electronica. Led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Sharif Dumani, the music was experimental but accessible, built around synthesizer and drum machines, reinventing one cinematic atmosphere after another one, with some aggression, some anxiety and plenty of hypnotic UFO sound effects. It had reminiscences of early electronic pioneers, but their crowded sonic explorations with throbbing looping paths, reverb vocals, and serpentine saxophone were giving me visions of futuristic souks.
Just after that, Reggie Watts was a surprise guest and a total treat as it is always a delight to see this man on stage improvising around his looping machine while singing and rapping with his ever-changing vocals, going from deep baritone to wild falsetto. With Watts, it’s always a smooth blend of music and impromptu comedy with a deadpan sense of humor, as he delivers nonsensical discourse with the most serious tone. He recorded the loops in situ, building layer by layer, superimposing his vocal basslines or tongue rhythmic noises, and everything was done with the sole use of his mouth of course. There were songs that didn’t exist, one-second songs built with anticipation, and fake covers (songs that Automatic will be writing in the future), for which he got a lot of laugh from the crowd. Everybody was in awe with this comedian, able to do this all alone with no other instrument in view, effortlessly able to construct plenty of sonic landscapes by browsing a bottomless collection of noises and accents. Reggie Watts is a busy guy these days as he is the bandleader of the James Corden’s Late Late Show, and it was really great he took the time to stop by the Echo on a Monday night.
Automatic — they actually named themselves after a song by the Go-Go’s — are gonna play at the Echo every Monday in August and they are definitively worth checking out. With Lola Dompè on drums, Izzy Glaudini on synth and Halle Saxon Gaines on bass, the trio doesn’t even care for an electric guitar, since they are rather inspired by the post-punk scene and even some good old German krautrock. Despite their youthful and pretty looks, they played a dark synth with cold vocals, and they sometimes reminded me of Corners, a great local band which unfortunately disbanded after a very successful residency a few years ago.… So how could these young women give a new look to ‘80s-inspired synth-driven electronica? They did it with ease and flavor while some good-looking blonde guy wearing a trench coat and sunglasses was headbanging in the dark. Their first songs were visibly very krautrock-y with Izzy Glaudini’ monochord vocals, but the three of them were basically taking part in the vocals with some occasional aggression shouted at the unison. It was very easy to follow their familiar-at-the-first-listening tempos, and it was very easy to be seduced by their elastic bass lines gently flirting with the goth-punk-wave scene while injecting plenty of pop hooks. Because of their retro-modern post-punk sound, it wasn’t a surprise to read that drummer Lola Dompè is the daughter of Kevin Haskins, who of course used to drum for Bauhaus. For the entire set, the audience was charmed with dark synth swirls and this same cold slow delivery, and if we couldn’t see much of Lola during the entire set, she came to the front and beat a drum at the edge of the stage, adding some dynamism to the set, which otherwise was frozen into their icy synth lines. Recently signed to Stones Throw Records, their debut album ‘Signal’ will be out on September 27th, but if you can’t wait this long, the band has just released a 7”, ‘Calling It’, with a B-side covering ‘Mind Your Own Business’ by UK’s Delta 5.
Flat Worms closed the night, and it’s always a face-melting party when you see this band perform, as they seem to be fronted by a cataclysmic drum dueling with a buzzsaw guitar. The trio (whose members have been part of Sic Alps, Kevin Morby Band, Ty Segall Band, Dream Boys and Oh Sees) can give you an immediate ear-ringing after just one song, although they played plenty of their boisterous tunes way past midnight. Their garage-punk noise was feeding some raucous energy and kept a rather large crowd on a weeknight, fully captivated by their loud distorted riffs and drum-driven epic numbers. They were racing till the end of the show through an explosive mess of sounds with Justin Sullivan’s muscular drumming, Tim Hellman’s turmoil-filled bass lines, and Will Ivy’s authoritarian-morose delivery and chainsaw-possessed guitar. It’s not a surprise to see that Flat Worms are signed to Castle Face Records (co-run by John Dwyer of Oh Sees), and on Monday night, they sounded like an unstoppable machine while the crowd was asking for more.