The nights in Chinatown are always hot during summer and I am not talking about the temperatures…if you are in Los Angeles, the free monthly event is a food-music extravaganza, offering plenty of demonstration booths, yummy food trucks, KCRW’s DJs on Chinatown Central Plaza, as well as an indie music lineup concocted by Buzzbandsla.
If the night always finishes with a crowded dancefloor and firecrackers on the grand plaza, there is always the chance to check a few new or familiar bands across the street, like this last Friday night with Soft Streak, Enola Fall, The Tracks, Holy Wars, Blacktop Queen and Gothic Tropic..
Soft Streak was a synth-pop duo, with the female singer’s vocals flying high above the double-synth swirls… their electro pop was quite seductive and dreamy, not like a Beach House doppelganger, but going more experimental, pulling an eventual Panda Bear side, or floating in ether, with an impromptu dance in the middle of a song.
How often do you get to hear indie rock from Tasmania? Not too often probably, but that was nevertheless Enola Fall’s country, although you wouldn’t have been really able to tell from the energetic rock set they played, with songs from a very recently released album called BLOODHOUND. Singer Joe Nuttall was a charismatic frontman with soaring vocals and a strong range, going to powerful falsetto and bravado howls during emotional highs. Their passionate songs were often going for the explosive choruses and classic trashing-the-stage parts, building up tempos and leaving everyone breathless.
I had already seen The Tracks last year, and I knew how truly charming the Boyle Heights band is with their mix of retro and modern. They were fronted by another charismatic singer, Venancio Bermudez, with a Richie Valens wardrobe and looking so young he may not have been able to drink at the place? He had a passionate delivery with a wide opened mouth, whereas their romantic melodies had a sort of post punk vibe like they were some Latino Smiths. But they also could go full retro surf punk with a youthful ardor, and I like the fact that they put ‘Selena and the Stooges’ as their main influences because it fitted them perfectly. During one of their songs ‘Drowsy’, I could even hear a Vampire Weekend thing going on, and a Black Lips vibe elsewhere, while the rest was a good slice of indie rock from East LA.
Holy Wars were the star of the night, and photographers (me included) rushed around them to capture Kat Leon’s incredible stage energy. She is a force who moves around like a dark and beautiful hurricane, a fury on stage and in the middle of the crowd, a photo-op queen screaming a series of menacing ‘ha!’, and exorcizing a deep pain while flying from one side of the stage to the next. It was my umpteenth Holy Wars show, but I am far from being tired of watching their captivating live shows, as Kat Leon’s powerhouse never fails to soar over the emotional doom music, which seemed to be born from pain, anger and healing. It was an explosive expression of emotions, building up a cathartic sonic climate during half an hour, from which Kat once again emerged like the triumphant warrior.
Blacktop Queen had a lot of swag, some infectious dance beats, and their modern soundscapes were led by a frontman (singer guitarist Evan Ambrose) who could adopt a close-to-hip-hop style when his howls were not soaring above hooky pop tunes. While their contemporary indie-pop dancefloors were completed by drummer Nate Lotz, the music had a lot of layered production, making their set very radio-ready, They recorded their music in Joshua Tree, and their song ‘Desert’ had a sort of Dandy Warhols inspiration.
Gothic Tropic, led by singer and guitarist Cecilia Della Peruti, continued the nights with their modern funky tunes that she called ‘jams’. Peruti has been a multi-instrumentalist touring player for Børns,Charli XCX, and Beck, so needless to say she was excellent at guitar, while her soft vocals were breathy-dreamy, never missing a beat of the band’s well-crafted songs. Their jams often ended into dreamy dancefloors or delicate and intricate guitar soundscapes with her eerie vocals, and a trumpet and a trombone and even joined the band for a song, highlighting the soul and funk in their very enjoyable jazzy pop songs.
There are still a few Summer Nights in Chinatown, some not-to-be-missed events for music lovers!
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