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Papa At FIGat7th, Friday July 26th 2013
















So I just saw Papa, the indie LA band which got to be compared to Dean Martin, the Stooges, and Interpol by Iman last week. It’s true that they received all kinds of comparison, I just read in the Guardian that one of their songs ‘Put Me To Work’ has ‘all the right elements, with obvious echoes of Springsteen in full Spector-worshipping mode’, whereas Spinner has said that they lay their brand of rock ‘at the crossroads of punk and post-punk circumscribed by the Clash and the Talking Heads’, with a ‘keen sense of Americana’, ‘a Springsteen or Petty-esque of travel-tested wisdom’… and now I am so confused, how can they be so all over the place? And after seeing them playing a free concert at Figueroa at 7th, the top of a mall in Downtown Los Angeles, I am not sure which other comparison I could come up with, but their music was certainly multifaceted, with different music indie styles even showing up in the same song.

First of all, Darren Weiss was the drummer for the darling band, and now defunct, Girls, so this must have been enough to attract a lot of young girls, and there were a lot of them indeed on Friday night…. However, they were here for Papa not for Girls. Weiss, as the drummer and singer of the band, was central stage, barefoot behind his drum set, and he was doing all the talking during the show. Plus, a girl asked him to marry her after a song, and he said he couldn’t because he already had a girlfriend… Already a marriage proposal and they aren’t even really that big you know? You don’t hear this every night so I suppose it’s a very good sign for Papa. They also announced the release of their debut album ‘Tender Madness’ on October 8th via Loma Vista, which triggered lots of applause, and they previewed some songs off this new album mixed with some off their previous EP, ‘A Good Woman is Hard to Find’, although I didn’t get to see a setlist.

In some pictures circulating on the web, one of them is wrapped in the American flag, and there are several Springsteen references here and there, however, this Americana flavor quite escaped me during their performance,… sure it was a big expansive music, with a bold, often ascending sound and strong beats, may be destined to play in bigger arenas, and the abundant use of uplifting ‘hey-ooo-ooos’, Weiss’ close-to-baritone powerful voice vibrating up and front above the rest of the music, have probably given this impression to a lot of reviewers. Now that I have listened to ‘Put Me to Work’, and ‘Collector’ again, I certainly hear bits of the boss, packed into an amalgam of indie rock influences,… Then, they covered ‘Because the Night’ at the end of the show, and it was as if they were backing up all these Springsteen comparisons. And Interpol? I heard that too in songs like ‘Ain’t it So’ and others, but it had to be a joyous version of it! There was also something a bit retro, some 50-60s influences (‘Let’s Make You Pregnant’), some ringing guitars almost African – after all they have a song called ‘I am The Lion King’ – and who knows what else? I bet a lot of people can find a lot of different things in Papa’s music, and with all these emerging groups, the difficulty for bands to come up with a totally original sound just equals the difficulty for writers to describe it in this forever-increasing-in-complexity game.

In any case, the crowd was totally enjoying their hybrid indie music inspired by the greatest, people were dancing and even singing along, the band gave a very energetic performance and (I should say Darren Weiss) was communicating a lot with the crowd. ‘We are going to play at the Wiltern in September’ he said almost at the end of the show…The Wiltern? The largest theater in Los Angeles? Okay, he just didn’t say they would be opening for Cold War Kids, but who knows, with all these smiling faces responding to Papa’s musical hooks, a rush to the edge of the stage to shake fans’ hands, and one marriage proposal in the same night, they will be soon headlining the Wiltern.

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