By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Hoffman stuck to the concept of the album, conscripting a series of friends and past collaborators to trade vocal lines with him as he banged keyboards. A Garbo-garbed Carolyn Edwards applied her sensitively cutting soprano both to lead vocals (opening with a true high on the wistful "Get It Right This Time") and to backups. Hoffman dedicated "Anybody but You" to the late Lance Loud, who'd first sung it with the Mumps and whose mom, Pat, was in attendance; John Easdale did the cynical lyric full justice. Kristi Callan outsang the angels on the epic "Scarecrow," while Pierre Smith cranked its godlike guitar-solo coda. Abby Travis won the prize for cleavage and complementary vocal husk, climbing atop the parlor-grand piano for the old-timey "God, if Any, Only Knows." Paul Zone duetted on a technofied (with nods to Mama Cass) "Series of Yous." Michael Quercio popped the ceiling off with "Just in Time." Ann Magnuson, draped in Olympian gauze, windmilled a tiny harp on "Sex in Heaven." And there was a ravaging rock-out on the Mumps' "Crocodile Tears." Not every singer looked comfortable -- it's not exactly a natural situation -- but every one delivered.
Hoffman himself displayed exceptional pipes, warbling operatically one minute, soaked in Phil Ochs folk the next. And his band -- Joseph Berardi, Dave Bongiovanni, Ernesto Garcia and Smith -- was a dynamic wonder. Congratulations, Mr. Hoffman. And happy birthday. (Greg Burk)
BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, DEAD MEADOW
at Spaceland, July 11
Hailing from Washington, D.C., Dead Meadow appeared to be mild-mannered nice fellows until they got onstage and unleashed a whole lotta dirty Hendrixesque rock & roll. Singer Jason Simon's spare vocals were washed in spacy reverb and came off reminiscent of the soulful drone of Spiritualized's Jason Pierce. Drummer Mark Laughlin was loud and tight and hit hard, just like all good drummers should. Bassist Steve Kille kicked out the grooving bluesy bass lines. The sizable crowd witnessing the spectacle appeared impressed with the trio's pugnacious and largely instrumental performance, which lasted nearly an hour and never slowed down. It must be noted that the band's classic Orange amps were a welcome sight.
Following Dead Meadow was the band that has spawned a thousand bands, Brian Jonestown Massacre, whose charismatic show made it seem odd that Spaceland wasn't filled to suffocating capacity. If these guys were from England, people in L.A. would be tripping over themselves to see them play. Despite minor tuning delays, the songs went off without a hitch. Front man Anton Newcombe's smooth voice floated over the plethora of guitars, bass and drums with an arcane sense of ease, and perhaps ego. The Massacre are definitely not the kind of band who purport to be the guys next door; there is a definite sense that when they're onstage, they're aware that they're good -- and, quite frankly, they are. (Tätiana Simonian)
ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND
at House of Blues, July 12
Mere minutes before headliner Robert Randolph's band came onstage at HoB, my gal and I found a place to sit upstairs, directly underneath those ghostly plaster busts of Charley Patton and Blind Boy Fuller -- both great-grandfathers gazing down from the ceiling onto the night's proceedings, dashing the atmosphere with History. Appropriate, because what the evening announced was a new species: gut-level, raw, preachin'-gospel blues ferociously amped and supercharged into an unstoppable, high-speed-energy assault of unrelentingly loud, piercing pedal-steel bottleneck noise, dosed with funk and bone-shaking throb that left the feet 'n' entrails buzzing, the ears useless, the brain spent. The old folks started it, but what the hell would they make of this?
Randolph bounded onto the stage -- a muscular dude in shirtsleeves and bowler hat -- like an MC from the Holiness Church, shouting Jo-o-o-o-oyy!and pulling off piercing, whipsaw-twang licks on the pedal-steel that thrilled up the kids before the band (bass, drums, churchy gospel organ) jumped into a deep-down funk groove that shook one's cells for the next two hours. The greatest moment of the long night came when Randolph brought on his friend and mentor Calvin Cooke, an older gent, placid of face (and strongly resembling King Oliver), who sat in a chair and played his electric in the genuine bottleneck style, taking the noisiest-ass gospel jam I've ever witnessed into a climax of unrelenting, shrieking high-end scrapes on the upper frets as Randolph fed into the din on his acoustic. It was absolute genius, it was transfixing and bewitching, and all I could think and feel, being in that presence, was: This is it -- I surrender -- this is the real thing -- the sacred and the nasty -- church meets the devil -- look at him play, so calm. God damn! (Tony Mostrom)
DIMITRI FROM PARIS
at 1650, July 13
Yes, it's an absurd fact, but DJs also give encores, and boy, is the crowd demanding one now. The floodlights are on, the last drop of alcohol was served a half-hour ago, and the man with the mustache is backing away from the decks, bowing his head good night as the club gets ready to unplug. Qu'est-ce qui se passe, Dimitri? It's now Bastille Day -- break loose. Just one more record so we can burn off that last ounce of Ketel One in our blood. One more record for our dreams in case we don't get laid tonight. One more record for yourself, dammit: Just look where you're standing -- on the verge of sending this whole dance floor of hard-working kids (how else did they afford the ludicrous $30 cover?) through the roof simply by dropping a needle at the right spot at the right place at the right time, and you're saying you're not going to deliver this easy moment for your own god-is-a-DJ ego?