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
CUBIST, TIPPER, ANON at the Hollywood Athletic Club, June 27
In what felt like an oasis of intelligence along Sunset Boulevard’s high school cruising zone, the Hollywood Athletic Club played host to a staggering array of laptop experimentation. These artists weren’t mixing other DJs’ stuff as at most club nights, but mouse-clicking their way through original compositions. Take Cubist, for instance, a Pax/ELM member also known as RD (his real name), who layered gorgeous-creepy swaths of broken-beat downtempo in a frontiersy, intuitive set that was felt as much as heard.
While the commercialism was unobtrusive, the whole point of the evening was a product plug for 5.1 Surround Sound, in which all the rooms on the second floor of this cavernous, once-glamorous “men’s club” were blasting with digital crispness — a first for a Los Angeles establishment, they say. Enter Dave Tipper, a Wimbledon-bred lad whose excellent new Surrounded disc was the main vehicle for pushing the technology to its limits, a prime example being the vertigo-inducing bass-drops at set’s end. Tipper ranged from organic impressionism to ethereal ghetto-tech (on the suave “No Dice”) that basically had nothing to do with the hi-energy breakbeats he’s known for — he saved that for Joseph’s on Thursday.
If only the night had lived up to its bacchanalian promise. With networkers and scenesters crowding the main corridor, peeps were confined to dancing in the beanbag-strewn central room, where scads of pomo/avant imagery would put your soul on ice if you stared too long. While the vibe was more listening party than blowout, that didn’t stop the baby-faced Anon (rhymes with Savon) from laying down the evening’s most thrilling set. She’s got an IDM rep, but this was a warm, most un-nerdy strain of the style — clicks-’n’-cuts floating like free radicals throughout a psychotropic whirl.
THE YARDBIRDS at House of Blues, June 25
The Yardbirds always were a band of intriguing contradictions: A launching pad for a holy trinity of guitar gods, whose finest originals were co-written by their drummer. Ace instrumentalists, famous for extended live jams, whose flair for sonic experimentation flowered most effectively in the context of two-and-a-half-minute pop singles. Earnest students of the blues, whose radical, high-energy approach to the idiom spawned both the MC5s and the Blues Hammers of the world.
All aspects were present and accounted for at this, the Yardbirds’ first Sunset Strip gig in 35 years. The band — featuring original members Jim McCarty (drums) and Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar), as well as bassist-vocalist John Idan, lead guitarist Gypie Mayo and harmonica player Alan Glen — tore enthusiastically through a 19-song set that touched on everything from their blues-wailin’ early days to tracks from their new Birdland album. If some tempos seemed a bit soggy (“Heart Full of Soul,” “For Your Love”), the old Yardbirds magic was in full effect on searing renditions of “I’m a Man,” “Train Kept A-Rollin’” and “Rack My Mind.” Mayo, formerly of British pub-rock legends Dr. Feelgood, totally held his own with the ghosts of Yardbirds guitarists past; his playing generally combined the best of Clapton and Beck, but he also served up some serious Page-style cosmic slop on the dramatic, set-closing cover of Jake Holmes’ “Dazed and Confused.”
Alas, had it only ended there. Special guests Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Steve Lukather and Steve Vai all plugged in for the encore, a shred-happy “Smokestack Lightning” that must have had Howlin’ Wolf turning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken. The impromptu GIT workshop ground mercifully to a halt after about 20 agonizing minutes, but the elegant spirit of the original Yardbirds had long since flown the coop, taking much of the evening’s audience with it. (Dan Epstein)
SLOWRIDERat Fais Do-Do, June 27
If every night were a CD-release night, the world would be forever beautiful — and crowded. At least that’s the sentiment after Fais Do-Do’s fiesta for Eastside galactic jammers Slowrider. Celebrating the completion of their latest recording, Historias en Revisión, Slowrider’s party attracted so many well-wishers that the faithful stood on tables, stood on Fais Do-Do’s regal couches, even stood on each other, while trying to view the sextet. Most weren’t successful, but even the temporarily blind saw Slowrider’s transformation from locals extraordinaire to time-for-national-exposure potentates.
After an introduction by KPFK’s Travel Tips for Aztlán host Mark Torres and an offer of incense to the gig gods, Slowrider began their cruisin’. Novices to the group might have been confused as to how a band proclaiming “There’s nothing certain in this world/In this world everything ends” during one song provoked such joyous jumping from the audience. The secret is Slowrider’s affinity for genres like funk, cumbia and hip-hop conveyed in a form that disdains structure in favor of improvisation. Thus, Slowrider jammed — oh Lordy, they jammed, traversing through countless chord combos until they discovered The One, upon which they’d then enter a groove that seemed to last months. Duly hypnotized, the masses soon followed MC Olmeca’s every request: Clap your hands! Everybody scream! Now the guys! Now the girls!