El Cid on Sunset has been hosting some great nights of music lately and Thursday night was on fire with Not a Friend, Young Winona, and Jagged Baptist Club, an evening presented by In Your Pocket.
Not a Friend was a surprise to me, a sonic assault from a man with a mic and an electronic mix station. His number was an aggressive, bold delivery over glitchy industrial soundscapes stabbed by beats. He was going from morose to screamed rap, from hooks to sinister atmosphere over a crescendo noisy sound. The beats had violence and rage, his delivery, half-spoken words half-singing, sounded like a war declaration with swagger, whereas some of the songs were pure bangers. From hooky lines to sonic electronic riots filled with reverb and strafing beats, there was quite a diversity of sounds in his set, but I remember moments sounding like a crash between the Chemical Brothers and the Beastie Boys. Not a Friend may have been the title of one of the tracks that he performed, while another one, ‘WARCR1ME,’ was a sinister and cinematic electronic number, a soundtrack-ready piece echoing as much Massive Attack’s paranoia as the disco-ball with spikes chosen for logo.
‘It has been 2 years!’ vocalist and guitarist Cassie Gaffaney told us before playing, and even though this almost sounded like an apology, her band Young Winona sounded tied and excellent. It was the release party for their new single ‘Killer Daisies,’ and the band from New Zealand now based in LA (Cassie Gaffaney on guitar, Nick Gaffaney on drums, and Geoff Maddock on bass) gave us a taste of their melodic and dynamic rock & roll; even though I didn’t know their music, I was immediately in familiar territory with their first song ‘Red Dress’ and its bright hook. The music was upbeat, riffy, a bit grungy, and especially led by Cassie’s powerful howl, but I also should mention she had quite the rock moves with her guitar. But it was not all happy, ‘LA Waste’ was a slow burn under the hard sun of LA, describing an uneasy relationship with the city and its flagrant disparities – ‘Drown on down in the depths of the city/This place is swimming in waste and pity’ – until the song exploded with poignant strength. The new single was an upbeat and summery bounce with power-pop envy and plenty of joyful ooo-ooo-ooos while their last one, ‘Nails,’ was a foot-tapper-head-banger that gave what everyone was starving for, a good time while listening to live music.
I could be stalking Jagged Baptist Club as I have already seen them twice since the reopening of the clubs and bars, but I never get tired of these sonic assault makers. They manage to write songs that combine weirdness, dissonance, and catchiness. while injecting fury and anguish. California may be about sunny beach beats, cool waves, and surf rock, but JBC is here to bring back frenzy and anxiety, in a very fun way. The music navigates between noise rock, industrial, punk, post-punk, or post-rock, but they never forget about the hooks. Their live shows are fun rides fueled with speed and adrenaline, animated by frontman Blake Stokes’s hilarious theatricality. Last night was no exception, they opened their set with the pulsing, spoken words ‘Reptile Super Show,’ the title track of their debut 2019 LP, and as soon as the drums started, they were an unstoppable spinning machine. From the supercharged ‘In Sequence,’ to the brain-chopping ‘Chop X8,’ to some new songs – they will release a new album later this year and hopefully, some of these catchy new songs will be on it – they conquered the room with a tornado of menacing guitars, noisy clatter, buzzing-vibrating keyboard while Blake never stopped screaming to the crowd with his charismatic Sunday-preacher-gone-mad tone. JBC sounds like no other band, they are noisy and catchy, furious and cool, hypnotic and raw, nervy and hilarious. They are welcoming anyone to their club of hopelessness and rage to terrorize your eardrums but in a good way.
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