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Useless Keys at DangerBird records Saturday, August 27th, 2011

I don’t know if it is good thing for a band when we say they kind of sound like Nirvana, Nirvana being this huge name in the rock pantheon, the comparison can be such a disservice, but this was nevertheless the first name that crossed my mind when I listened to the Useless Keys’ set at DangerBird records (home to Silversun Pickups and Beady Eye), one of the many places that was used as a Sunset Junction Fair substitute on Saturday afternoon.

I have read other comparisons like the Pixies, but I did not really hear it, their sound was definitively darker and more aggressive than those of the previous bands, while building a fuzzy wall of noise, that was both distorted and melodic. Michael Bauer’s vocals especially had this combination of moodiness and monotonousness that can remind a close-to-emotionless side of Cobain, floating above dense guitar attacks which were wandering into dissonance, shredding and distortion.

The quartet, which consists of Davin Givhan on bass and vocals, Michael Regilio on guitar and keyboards, Jerry Roe on drums, and Michael Bauer on guitar and vocals, seemed totally concentrated on the music, a little mysterious, not interacting much with the crowd, and so forcing us to focus on their somber huge sound, mixing an hypnotic shoegaze with a post-psychedelic noise (they have a song entitled ‘white noise’), slowly building a sort of paranoia filled by the angst of the 90s.

They have released their debut EP, ‘Is the Painting Changing’ early 2010 and are just coming back from a tour on the West coast and Southwest; on Saturday afternoon, they mixed old material with new one that will be featured on their upcoming LP. I read somewhere that Kevin Bacon and his brother showed up for Vanaprasta, the previous band which was playing! I didn’t see them, I always miss celebrities! But I just wonder whether they sticked around for the Useless Keys, because they were demonstrating one more time how full of surprises the LA local scene is.

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