Monday night was another crazy evening of fun at the Echoplex, where I caught Adult Books’ last night of their February residency. They are a band I have seen a few times at different local festivals and it’s good to see they got a full month of residency. Three other bands were playing the same night, which stretches these nights to impossible hours for a Monday night or a Tuesday morning depending as you see it, but that’s the story of my life…
Noah Kwid opened the night solo, and not surprisingly I had seen him before, playing with his band Dirt Dress. This is becoming more and more common place in this Echo-Park-Silverlake musical melting pot, not only there are more and more bands, but people from a band go solo, which brings even more bands on the scene. There’s a constant evolution, self-pollination and hybridization and we are never done. Noah Kwid was playing guitar over recordings of dark synth, beats and percussion and the result was intriguing, going into unusual chord progressions, while he was singing in a monochord-commanding tone, bringing a morose ambiance just balanced by some ocean wave noises between the songs. It was dark and surfy at the same time, and when he put away his guitar to take the mic in one hand and sing over the loops and beats of the last number (a cover), he sounded and looked a bit like LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy,… not a bad thing at all.
The next band was another example of what I was talking about, Billy Changer plays bass in the band Corners, which had a very successful residency last year, but he also goes under his own name for this new band, backed up by Nick Winfrey (of Adult Books), Louis Filliger, Tara Touzie, and Sergio Garrieo. At this point it has become harder and harder to sort out all these bands and their respective sound, but they very probably don’t care at all, they are just a big family, all signed on Burger and Lollipop Records. With piercing guitars and a very present synth/keyboard, I was sometimes recognizing Corners’ fast and urgent tempo, it was equally dark at times, but the swag was gone and it got a bit smoother on some songs. The music was looking for some dark new wave, but it was music to dance to, just between the Cure, the Smiths and a garage somewhere in Echo Park or Highland Park. The last song got very sinister and I don’t know if the strings of his guitar broke or if he was voluntarily breaking them for some special effects, but we got prepared for a crash or some sort of natural disaster.
The crowd was already very dance-y but people actually became very rowdy for the last two bands. Adult Books has the infectious hooks, no doubt about it, you will just have to listen to their Bandcamp page to find out by yourselves, but there’s no way you can resist dancing or banging you head when you listen to ‘In Love Again’ or ‘Bedsit Infamies’. You could say that they are between FIDLAR and the Smiths, if this makes any sense, it’s sunny but at the same time the sound of the English post-punk band flourishes between all these catchy waves, and the songs become these shouted-out singalong choruses that made all the kids crowd surf their heart out – and I am not the only one thinking that way, because the DJ played a Smiths song just after their set. Frontman Nick Winfrey knows about memorable hooks and has a very specific way to dance with almost waltz-y steps, when he plays guitar. He even picked up a bra thrown on the stage in the middle of the set, which is always a good sign, but I have to say that a violent mosh pit had erupted at this same moment, like an answer of approval for Adult Books’ pop-punkish anthems.
But it got even crazier for the late set of Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, a psychedelic band beloved by the Burger-Lollipop kids. I have seen them a couple of times and have always enjoyed their flower-power, druggy, mad psychedelia, which often turns, as it was the case last night, into a jumping-diving-surfing party. With this band, it is power to the organs as if the Doors had reunited, and there is a lot of sweetness and almost childish innocence with plenty of references to the 70’s and many trance-inducing grooves. They even have hits like ‘Nico & her Psychedelic Subconscious’, which goes well beyond a simple nostalgia for a certain San Francisco’s sound, and which had a maddening power over the crowd… I tried to film the song but was catapulted to the side of the stage, as I could not hold the chaos. What can I say, this is the true power of music!
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