2014 was again a great year for concerts, and when I look back, I realize I saw an impressive number of bands. Here are a list of my best of 2014:
Kan Wakan: I saw them several times at the Echoplex during their February residency, and again when they did an in-store at Amoeba. This is a band that will certainly blow up if they haven’t done it yet, their music was a true revelation, complexly orchestrated and haunted by Kristianne Bautista’s deep and emotional croon. Between songs and symphonies, their tunes have this immense and bold vision, beautifully served by vibrant strings, layered guitars and synths.
FIDLAR: I saw them many, many times too, and I never resist for another occasion to see a band that I first saw at the Echo in front of no more than 10 people in 2011!! They were playing the Echoplex on February 27th and the line to get in was a mile long, but they are going to play a larger place in January and I’ll be back! These kids are crazy and their shows are a furious ride of crowd surfing and stage diving with a large dose of nose bleeding,… they live the punk life to the fullest and the crowd has endorsed their punk anthems to the core. A FIDLAR show is a chaotic party and it gives you a hangover even if you don’t touch a cheap beer.
Angel Olsen: I saw her twice this year, first at the Echoplex on March 2nd and then at the El Rey on December 4th. I almost saw her a third time at the FYF fest, but because the lines to get in were moving so slowly, I missed her and I was mad! Her album ‘Burn Your Fire for No Witness’ is certainly one of my favorites of this year and she doesn’t disappoint live, she is a very captivating and subtle performer, with a innate charisma, and a unique voice, both ethereal and vintage, heartbreaking and expressive, as she magically manages to say a lot in a small amount of time with these vocal inflections… I don’t understand, Angel is only 27 years old and she seems to know so much more than I do, at least she is able to express it with so much grace.
Burgerama: Another two-day festival on March 22nd and 23rd, organized by an awesome small label which manages to get a first-class lineup of garage punk rock, check this out: the Growlers, Black Lips, FIDLAR, Mac Demarco, Death, Bleached, Cherry Glazerr, Allah Las, Tijuana Panthers, and a million of other bands. It’s simple if you are a cool young band, with a punk-surf vibe, you are playing Burgerama. I am going back this coming year, the line up is once again a killer.
Corners: I saw them so many times this summer it is ridiculous! Well they had a free Monday residency at the Echo in July, so it would have been ridiculous to miss them. They have a style and a true energy, and they cleverly mix the dark with the bright, producing a unique and dangerous sound. Every time I saw them play, they started a riot with these cold vocals and a surf-vibe via-a-Bauhaus-undercover.
Lolipalooza: Another mini festival around an indie label at the Echo-Echoplex and it is just destined to grow bigger and bigger in the upcoming years. It was happening in June 28th, with that perfect happy feeling we have at the beginning of summer, and I saw once again too many bands at once, running up and down from the Echoplex to the Echo. It’s difficult to give any highlight, as these were all very young and upcoming bands, but I remember about Girl Tears, Drinking Flowers, Corners (again), Mystic Braves, Froth, Shannon & the Clams and of course the amazing Thee Oh Sees…
Nick Cave: I saw him twice this year, and it was totally spectacular because I even met him in person! First, at the Los Angeles premiere of his fake autobiographical movie, ‘20,000 days on Earth’ at the Egyptian theater on June 10th . He gave a short piano concert after the screening and people were already feeling privileged to witness that, but the best was still to come, meeting him after the show and taking all the pictures we could,… wait I didn’t have my good camera! Then there was the show at the Shrine the following day, and it was probably the best performance of the year, he owned the place from start to finish, I know Cave has a god status in my personal book, but yeah he is a master, someone who truly has the power to elevate his mythology above reality
Arcade Fire: Sure they are big now, they headline Coachella and everything they touch, and they fill up the huge Forum two nights in a row… they are an arena band, with a big sound, a big spectacle, confetti guns and multiple scenes, I am not saying I like this, I prefer intimate concerts, but what can I do? I said it before, my old little secret (they used to played the Satellite, years ago) has blown up to uncontrollable proportions and there is nothing I can do, they are a big machine now and it is just less easy to sound sincere, but many bands have gone through the same path. However, after their over-the-top show at the Forum on August 1st, I attended their after party at the Bootleg the following day, and it was back to normal, Win Butler was hanging out with fans, just behind me, watching his brother Will and other members of the band cover rock’ n’ roll classics… One of the coolest and hipster-est nights of my summer for sure.
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