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Big Loud Rock With Levi Evans, Letdown. And Blame My Youth At Winston House, Sunday, January 22nd, 2023

Big Loud Rock
Levi Evans at Big Loud Rock

Last Sunday, Big Loud Rock, the new alternative/rock imprint of Big Loud Records, organized a showcase at Winston House, an intimate venue that offers a restaurant, a bar, and a cozy room for live music, a successful attempt to bring more live events to Venice Beach. The evening featured three acts that played short sets, but looking at the crowd around me, they all already had some serious fan bases.

Levi Evans would probably like everyone to forget about his very famous father – he is the son of David Howell Evans aka The Edge. After all, he is trying his own thing, but it’s impossible to escape the status of a rock star progeny. I have seen quite a bunch of them (Dhani Harrison, James McCartney, Sean Lennon, Harper and Lulu Simon, Sophie Simmons…) and Levi could actually make us completely forget about his famous dad. First of all, he doesn’t especially look like his father, then his music has little to do with U2’s brand of arena rock.  Surrounded by several musicians, he played a few of his compositions that he described as “sometimes a bit depressing.” The mellow ballad “Back in my Head Again” sounded like a blend of melancholic R&B and hip hop tempo, while “Lay Low” made his distinctive vocals bounce above more upbeat guitars. The more poignant “Let Me Know,” which, he told us, was “about the end of the world,” had sensitive melodic arrangements, and “Catch Me” was a playful light tune venturing into hip hop inspiration at times. Meanwhile, his last song, “Numbers,” with its slow start and more explosive pop chorus curiously gave me some real Weezer vibes… this was catchy for sure. Relatable and varied, the songs revealed experimentation with moods and textures and exposure to many musical influences. Like any young man these days, Levi grew up surrounded by music, but probably even more than anyone else. He had a friendly and unassuming stage presence, mentioned his native Ireland, his current life in Los Angeles, and with lyrics reflecting personal experiences, it was easy to connect to the tunes. Launched in August 2021, his artistic project is very recent, but he has already received spins on Elton John’s Sirius XM show. In a way, I pity rock stars’ offspring because they can never say that they don’t owe it to their famous parent

Nashville/Chicago-based songwriter and vocalist Blake Coddington aka Letdown. (period included) was next, and the atmosphere shifted to a much more tumultuous ambiance. With his long hair and wild style, Letdown put the room on fire as he performed his hard-hitting pop-rock songs with soaring vocals and a tempestuous energy. Moving on stage and followed by his long mane, almost every song had its cathartic moment, beaten down by a tsunami of cymbals, guitar riffs, and Letdown.’s powerful and yearning voice. “I have been doing this Letdown. thing for 2 years,” he said while thanking his fans. There was a dramatic feeling in his entire set, a sort of bombastic empowering collection of tunes, entitled “Harder to Breathe,” “Shipwreck,” “Go to Hell,” “Love is a Weapon,” “Empty,” “Spotlight.” They certainly sounded a bit similar to each other but were marvelously working their way into the crowd which was moving with serious energy. “It’s just me crying about my problems,” Coddington said in an interview, “I write music not only as therapy for myself but for others who feel they are spread too thin, falling short, or just not good enough.” This shared experience gained him 10 million streams (and counting), 640,000 TikTok followers, and millions of views. A star may be born.

The energy didn’t slow down with Blame My Youth, a band fronted by the very dynamic Sean Van Vleet, previously known for his Chicago-based indie band, Empires, which earned international praise and toured with Death Cab for Cutie, Deerhunter, and Alkaline Trio. Talking about streams, Blame My Youth’s single “Fantastic” and its anthemic rock structure (at the image of many of their songs) has already gained more than 4 million streams on Spotify, while “Dance with My Demons,” the first song they performed with bombastic energy, has already more than 1 million streams. The quartet played their larger-than-life tunes with the grandiosity of an arena show for everyone’s delight. Past their explosive sonic level, all the songs had an earworm quality, a feel-good approach, and overall overwhelming positivity performed with an over-the-top style. With “They Only Love You When You’re Dead,” or ”Okay With It,”  the band certainly played some big loud rock.


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