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So Many Wizards & Manhattan Murder Mystery At Space 15 Twenty, Saturday March 29th 2014


Matthew Teardrop/s raising powers

Gimme Gimme Gimme, which proclaims to be ‘Curating and Preserving Useful Culture’, had launched a party at Space 15 Twenty, this hidden mini-mall on the trendy Cahuenga boulevard that I only frequent for its courtyard parties. On Saturday night, it was So Many Wizards and Manhattan Murder Mystery… Really? Matthew Teardrop, his backpack and Urban Outfitters in the same place? That was promising so I decided to go despite my usual heavy load of schoolwork.

So Many Wizards was an interesting quartet with a strong dream-indie-pop vibe, brightened by Nima Kazerouni’s warm voice going often in the falsetto range and catchy melodies sped-up to the point to make you dance and turn. Actually a very young and adorable little girl totally got it from the beginning and was dancing in front of the stage. After a few songs Kazerouni said she was his daughter, ‘I know she’ll be deaf by the day she is 5,… but we don’t want her to be a musician! Get closer to the monitor!’ But seeing how the cutie got interested by the drums after the show, he was probably totally wrong about his daughter’s future. In any case, their pleasant and breezy songs were a bit nostalgic with the lead guitar doing its little speedy dance on the side and the layered surf-y guitars giving momentum to their punchy-punky tunes. There was a fast and ascending energy, and each time a melody was detaching itself from the buoyancy,… okay I could certainly go for a fast ride with this music between the ears. But the most astonishing story in all this was what I read about Kazerouni when I got home: he composed ‘the first So Many Wizards songs to cope with his anxiety after a childhood that began with an escape from war-torn Iran and took him through Europe, South America, and a month in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica before landing him in LA.’ Wow, so strange he was able to compose such an idyllic and sweet LA pop after going through so much!

If you live in Los Angeles and haven’t seen Manhattan Murder Mystery live by now, what are you waiting for? You have no excuse because they play all the time, and each time is truly epic. They have now a group of loyal and fervent fans and an ambiance of true camaraderie reigns during their shows, involving a lot of hugging, screamed-in-unison choruses and beer drunk over each other’s shoulders. Every time I listen to one of their songs, I got the impression that frontman Matthew Teardrop has summed up the tragedy of the human condition: we are doomed all right, but let’s all get drunk and play the most gut-wrenching, sincere music with our fist in the air, ready for the last battle. Wearing his usual hoodie, backpack, torn jeans and bandana, drinking free beer offered by the place, he and his expanding band (they are now six on stage with five musicians playing keyboard, percussion, drums, guitar and bass) played old classics like ‘Ambulance’ and ‘Owen Hart’, but also songs they haven’t officially released, isn’t it time to add more songs to this bandcamp? They actually started by some folk-country suddenly raging into punk energy, and Teardrop screamed with his usual intensity some emotional and straightforward lyrics, ‘And you failed’, ‘and you die’, and the crowd was 100% into it till the end, jumping, dancing, screaming and living Teardrop’s lyrics to the core. Spiderman even got involved, it is true we were in Hollywood!

MMM’s music is always so efficient especially live, it goes straight to your guts, and there’s no hiding behind some empty and pretentious abstraction in the lyrics, it’s like a sort of Velvet very Underground meeting Bukowsky, it’s raw and the songs are as diverse as they are unified into a sort of drunken pathos. ‘I would take the time to introduce the band,’ said Teardrop… ‘We are Manhattan Murder Mystery’, he added while laughing behind his harmonica. The crowd at Space 15 Twenty weren’t your usual fashionable hipsters, they were true fans and received the music with a formidable enthusiasm, even moshing to some ‘beer grabbing music’ as described by Matthew Teardrop who then added harmonica in the mix on the following songs.

Go see Manhattan Murder Mystery if you get the chance, they will rock your life and even change your life, I am not joking! Teardrop jumped in the crowd for the grand finale and disappeared as he usually does, letting some guy finish the song with his guitar. I heard the band was not really welcomed back at the Satellite, a local and popular club where they had a residency, it’s true that their shows can get really out of control, the type of thing that can give you a serious hangover the day after, even though you haven’t drunk anything.

For pictures of the show, go here.

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