Clairvoid Fest At The Bootleg Theater, Sunday August 27th
On Sunday, the Bootleg Theater had opened its doors for Clairvoid fest, a mini festival which was entirely benefiting Meristem, a center for young adults on the Autistic Spectrum, and the bands which succeeded from 5 pm to midnight were a great representation of the vibrant indie music scene of Los Angeles.
Love Rites opened the festivities when it was still very funny outside, but it didn’t matter, their series of post punk-new wave songs sung by a very determined frontman, set up the tone right away. His powerful delivery had somehow a hip hop vibe, he was always maintaining his very strong voice way above the music, often going in repetitive mode, but at the end, they were quite dance-y with a dark synth and many guitars on the side. Love Rites could have been the closest thing we have to indie dance music, and one thing is sure, they sounded like a band with an intense desire to be heard.
Band Aparte was dark and very entertaining, especially because of frontman Brian Mendoza’s inventive stage antics. Who else have you seen running from the stage and coming back with a ladder under his arm? He sang his last song at the top of it, but that was not his only eccentricity. He had impressive abrupt moves while their somber dancefloors were experimental, and often inspired by new wave, post punk and goth rock. I was getting a The-Cure-meets-the-Smiths feeling, while the big names of Joy Division and Nick Cave have even been used in reviews, and I totally see why! Their set was captivating from start to finish, filled by tons of emotional waves and passionate moves, and if you have seen plenty of frontmen licking or swallowing the mic, you haven’t seen anyone doing it this way.
I had just seen Cat Scan at Echo Park Rising and immediately was taken away by their energy and punk dissonance. On Sunday, they played a furious set of bullet songs with the same insane bravado, weird chord progressions and upbeat loudness. Bassist Quincy Larsen was at the center of their strident affair leading the game, while the guitarist was playing his familiar riffs loud and fast. They exchanged leading vocals like a beach ball they were passing around and the result was as chaotic as a bumpy road but a lot of fun, turning into a very happy ride with plenty of familiar sonic assaults and guitar wrecks, punctuated but joyful girlie screams along the way. Cat Scan is what happens when you want to sound weird and familiar at the same time like the Cramps meets the B-52s with fire in the belly…. Interestingly, the excellent Bootleg’s DJ played ‘Damaged Goods’ of Gang of Four just after their set, and I thought he was right on.
Burning Palms had two drummers and this is probably enough information to make you understand their big sound,… they were a lot on stage, a full band with two female singers at the front and a pedal heavy guitarist on one side, and they blew up the Bootleg roof, with a full psychedelic sound letting drama barely escape from the druggy-foggy wall of sound. They built an all-ravaging and romantic fire, but looking at the men sitting on the floor behind me and doing some sort of ceremony of his own (although he may have been just drunk or high) there may have been something mystical about the storm unleashed by Burning Palms… Mysticism? But isn’t it always the case of what comes from the desert?
The same idea was running through Ex Sage‘s music, they had organized the festival and if I have seen them several times — in particular during their residency at the same place a few months ago — they seemed to have grown in number and sound, making their style appear even more badass than before. But don’t get me wrong, their sound has always been bold and as full as the moon over the desert, but there were more people on stage: another female guitarist had joined the band, while their female bassist was a entire spectacle by herself, doing this beautiful dance with her bass. Kate Clover was still leading the game with her big vocals, she is a great frontwoman, bringing a bit of darkness despite her blondness elegance, and backed up by the band’s rebellious and bombastic sound, opening open spaces and battles in the desert.
The Tissues are fronted by a ferocious and delicious petite woman, Kritine Nevrose, and, last night, she was the same fierce force I remember, restless and raising hell around her, while the band was blending avant-garde with a punk energy. Her morose to super angry tone was charging into impressive howling screams, which were as intimidating as they are scary, the guitar was sharp as razor, the drums were rattling, and the unapologetic style the band incarnates transported the place into a sort of film noir, in a middle of a personal crisis or a domestic violence scene. I was not sure what she was screaming about but they gave us a merciless set with murder-envy.
Talking about murder, Dead Dawn closed the night with a set to be played in a dark alley with a blinkering light. Frontwoman China Morbosa, with her androgynous and weakly figure, did reveal herself into her lugubrious growl, moaning over an atmospheric guitar played by Abilene Fawn, drifting into some shady territories where light and darkness blend. Their songs didn’t have any of the structure you will expect from a regular song, but Morbosa’s mournful and creepy vocals, going from whisper to horror scream, were as shifty as her dance moves, pushing to occasional outburst of rage, while the guitar chords often reminded me slow parts of a Nirvana song buried into the darkest corners of a post punk depression.
The Clairvoid Fest was more than 7 hours of music for a great cause, 7 hours of real music screaming its authenticity in a city where the music scene may be over crowded but is always bringing new surprises.