‘Tonight is not about Donald Trump, it’s about the ACLU’, said Nikki Monninger of the Silversun Pickups. She and Brian Aubert were responding to a few ‘Fuck Trump’ coming from the crowd, but if everyone in the crowd was in agreement on this ‘fuck principle’, the whole evening baptized ‘Love Trumps Hate’, was entirely more about love than hate.
Ralph Torrefranca (A&R at Angry Mob Music Publishing) and Kyle Wilkerson (Talent Buyer of The Bootleg Theater) had organized this special benefit show ‘to celebrate our freedom and express our disapproval of the incoming administration taking office in 2017’, and at the same time the event was raising money for The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood, two organizations that may suffer during the upcoming administration.
The line up for ‘Love Trumps Hate’ was diverse and composed of passionate performers, who didn’t give us a second to rest, the Bootleg having two stages under the same roof, attendees of the mini festival did run back and forth from one place to the other from 8:30 pm to past midnight, while participating to a silent auction which was featuring tickets and limited edition signed items from Fitz & The Tantrums, Leon Bridges, Young The Giant, Family of The Year, Mac DeMarco, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Angel Olsen, Børns, YACHT, Run River North, How to Dress Well, Counting Crows as well as a raffle for an Amoeba Music gift card.
After DJ from Grant Owens (of We Found New Music) and Disco Shrine, it didn’t take me very long to understand that Expo 86 was a homage to Death Cab For Cutie, they played several songs of the indie band, had several vocalists and even had a vocalist guest who also played a trumpet… When I think about it, all the songs they played could have been Death Cab For Cutie’s songs, I am not sure anymore.
On the other stage, Nick Waterhouse, sitting on a stool and accompanied by only 2 musicians – I have seen him before surrounded by a more grandiose ensemble – gave us a taste of his retro and very stylish songs. And talking about covers, this is a guy who gives the impression to do covers of standards when all his songs are in fact originals. Watching him play this acoustic set let me really appreciate his dexterity on guitar, and in a few guitar solos, he managed to capture this exact pre-rock moment, when guitars swung with a jazzy vibe and plenty of soul.
Bloodboy was such a mind fuck surprise – they actually had a song called Doctor Mind Fuck – and they turned to be very entertaining with a frontwoman, Lexie Papillion, restlessly doing some crazy dancing, as if she had repetitive existential crisis. Wearing the most retro outfit of the night, her performance was as dramatic as it was exuberant, the music was multi-influenced, starting the darkest dance floors, while her big and raw vocals reminded me about Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs all set long. She dedicated a few songs to our ‘fucking president’, and after a few more operatic howls and dance moves in every direction, I would say she is definitively an artist to watch!
I have seen James Supercave a few times, and each time I am more and more captivated and seduced by their unassuming capacity at crafting very memorable pop songs. Since the release of ‘Better Strange’, an album which bounces from surprise to surprise – I mean there are not two songs which sound the same on this record – I have seen them twice live and I wonder each time where the killer bass line from ‘Burn’ or the euphoria of ‘The Right Thing’ come from,… it’s genius and it’s a good thing this inventive music does exist. They played a short set, like all the other performers, and the common denominator between the songs may have been singer Joaquin Pastor’s unique falsetto. They nevertheless managed to insert a Beatles cover, ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, just after Joaquin had told us we were ‘good people’ to attend such a show… I had a large smile on my face all set long.
YACHT wasn’t going to let this peak of happiness drop down like a bad soufflé, they gave the second most energetic performance (after Bloodboy) with several songs of their latest release ‘I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler’. It was an energized electro-punk dance which could have been an homage to LCD Soundsystem flirting with EDM, something that became even more apparent during the slow burn of ‘Ringtone’. And as Claire L. Evan was dancing and singing with a red old fashioned phone, she told the crowd, ‘it’s a telephone’, ‘a telephone,… it’s a young crowd!’ Their set was all beats and dance with great rhythm and original choreography, but mostly, it was extremely playful, as they made the whole room jump and bounce.
The Silversun Pickups were probably the main attraction of the night for many people, and even though it was an acoustic set (with the full band nevertheless) it got very crowded. The band, which named itself after a liquor store in my close neighborhood, is big business these days, they play big festivals like Lollapalooza and BottleRock Napa Valley with the Foo Fighters and Tom Petty, so they obviously had no problem to fill the Bootleg theater, actually the problem was to get close to the stage when they started playing. Sitting on two stools, Nikki Monninger and Brian Aubert played a set of loud and fast guitar-driven tunes, with Aubert’s light falsetto, a mix of songs off their 2015 and fourth album, ‘Better Nature’ (‘Nightlight’, ‘Latchkey Kids’, ‘Circadian Rhythm’) and of course favorite older tunes like ‘Panic Switch’ and ‘Lazy Eye’. Despite all the energy engulfed by the strumming guitars, the sound of their songs is melancholic, but to bring up some fun, Aubert did a crowd tour during a song, letting Monninger repeat the same guitar riff for a few minutes at the crowd’s great excitement and the whole thing ended up in a massive clap along
‘See we can have lot of good time while being pissed off,’ said Aubert before a sing-along during ‘Lazy Eye’ … ‘Fuck Trump!’ answered someone. ‘This thing is not about Donald Trump!’ he replied!
The event, which had been co-presented by multiple organizations like Amoeba Music, Swing House Studios, BuzzBands.LA, We Found New Music, BalconyTV Los Angeles, Everett Entertainmentt, LYKA, Blahblahblahscience and Angry Mob Music Group, had sold out very quickly on line, which means there is a real demand for this kind of events. Let’s hope it can be repeated soon.
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