On Monday nights, I can never decide where to go, there are several clubs offering free shows every week, and it is always a dilemma. I went to the Echoplex last week for the Mystic Braves residency, so, last Monday, I went to the Satellite for Mosco Rosco’s last evening of their April residency….
First was Melpo Mene, a trio fronted by Erik Mattiasson who explained he had recently moved from Stockholm, Sweden to LA. ‘It’s nice not be stopped in the streets for autographs’, he joked during his set, but as he already has a song in the soundtrack of an upcoming Reese Witherspoon flick, he may not be totally kidding. Mattiasson was doing a bit of stand up comedy between the songs, explaining he was trying to establish some connection with the audience, but he honestly didn’t need it since people loved him,… this was indeed a big attendance for an opener, and his uplifting synth pop was making the girls dance… Well, this is actually the title of one of his song. I found him immediately friendly and his music, going from playful to melancholic, pleasant and driven by his strong and bright vocals often backed up by his female keyboardist. Navigating between pop and indie rock – if this still means anything – going from mellow tunes to gentle dance beats, the songs had some nice atmospheric instrumental parts. Melpo Mene played songs entitled ‘Elephant Parade’, Beauty Girl’ ‘Make the girls dance’ and Erik enquired about the time left, ’15 minutes?’ ‘Oh we can do 3 albums in 15 minutes!’ …. I like when bands are inventive with their names, because their moniker was obviously an allusion to Melpomene, the Greek muse of singing/tragedy. ‘Don’t worry about the future’, he said announcing their last song, ‘it’s important!’. The future? right now, people just wanted more of them.
Magic Giant was a totally different story, and I don’t know where these guys came from but obviously a lot of people had already heard of them… They are going to be big soon? Probably! Just imagine Matthew McConaughey (I can’t help it, but the guy looked a bit like the actor) fronting Mumford and Sons, who had suddenly decided to join an electronic circus owned by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. There was a bit of everything and more, as it seemed there was never enough in the mix for Magic Giant. They brought electric Christmas garlands, lamps, tons of drums, a huge upright bass, a banjo of course, an harmonica, even a saxophone, two cute back-up singers and these barefoot gentlemen farmers gave to the crowd what they wanted, with a lot of heavy uplifting moments, a lot of clapping and sing-alongs, as well as many oooo-ooos and 1,2 3! They were working very hard at bringing harmonies at the top of everything since, musically, it was actually a very lo-fi affair, a bit like a giant campfire going overboard or an infectious banjo meeting your local DJ and throwing even some rap in the mix,… because why not? They are riding the Mumford craze with a subjacent EDM envy and I can’t blame them for that, but, among this crowd of sweaty people jumping around, I just wanted to scream, Jeez, curb your enthusiasm a notch.
But it was soon back to serious business with Mosco Rosco, the April band resident, and their disco-rocky-funky dance floor. I said serious business because the band has deliberately thought about what they were doing when they changed their name from Harper Blynn to Mosco Rosco, a little while ago. The new moniker is actually inspired by an Alan Moore comic (‘Roscoe Moscow’) from the late-’70s, telling the story of a detective discovering the corpse of rock ‘n’ roll, bringing on the case a super team with characters resembling Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Brian Eno and identifying the first suspect as Kraftwerk. Ha! Such a program, I am not sure they were thinking about saving rock’ n’ roll with such disco beats, but they have cited the Talking Heads, The Cars and Michael Jackson as their biggest inspiration. There was a bit of all this, I felt right away a strong classic rock vibe, a really big sound mixed into an obvious discoball feeling and also some funk, some real Daft Punk funk. To top everything, their collection of pedals was truly impressive and they had the best light effects I have seen at the Satellite, giving a hypnotic fast-drive-on-a-freeway effect during certain songs or even a dance-arena tunneling ambiance. Last week I heard they got Richard Marx as a special guest (this should give you the tone) and they have collaborated with Reggie Watts on a very Lionel Richie-esque theme song, ‘I Wanna Love You’. They may have found their inspiration from a comic book but they were certainly no rock’ n’ roll parody, and they built an impressive rock-arena dimension during their set. Yeah they were much more than these disco beats and poppy hooks, they were hard rockers in search of rock reinvention.
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