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
But for fans of Tom Jenkinson — that boffo Brit known as Squarepusher — there’s no difficulty fingering him: He’s IDM’s closest thing to a rock star, and the insane line snaking around the venue was a clubocracy of raver hooligans, metrosexuals, broken-beat adventurers and the lighter-hoisting faithful hungry to see their boy ever since his 2002 U.S. tour was canceled without explanation. But those who had never seen Squarepusher were scratching their heads when he entered stage left strapping on a big ol’ eight-string bass (!). Er, was there an impostor in the venue?
For Mr. Jenkinson, instrument anarchy is as important as laptop sabotage. While he unleashed his customary glitch-shrapnel blizzards and, toward set’s end, backlashed with Dutch/Belgian-style gabber, ’Pusher simultaneously triggered loops with the bass while snap-thwacking up and down the frets as percussively as Primus’ Les Claypool, pogoing around the dais, waving at the crowd and blinding us with epilepsy-inducing white strobes. Yeah, it was a bit overstimulating, but where Squarepusher is concerned — to quote the Grateful Dead — “too much is just enough.” (Andrew Lentz)
at Spaceland, July 21
We in the rock & roll record-buying, concert-going public are a tough crowd. We like our vocalists to fit into one of two categories: the Syd Barrett acid-casualty/Elliott Smith bare-your-soul-in-a-whisper camp of freaks on whom we feel privileged to eavesdrop, and the Kurt Cobain/James Brown tighten-your-gut-and-belt-it-out crew of screamers for whom we can’t help but stand up and cheer. Generally speaking, we don’t like crooners.
So when Elefant’s front man Diego Garia took the stage wearing an immodestly mod shag and a scarf tucked into his button-down like an ascot, and asked the light man to “get a little funky” in a disturbingly rich baritone, there was some cause for alarm. But by the time the band had finished “Tonight Let’s Dance,” the crowd seemed convinced that they were witnessing the real thing, a new New Romantic whose impossibly good looks and detached charisma held sufficient alchemy to make the guys jealously melt into respect and the girls simply melt. The tunes — one heartfelt love paean after another from the band’s recent debut, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid — seemed a little too soaked in Psychedelic Furs–style ’80s nostalgia to rise to Rolling Stone’s assertion of greatness, but the songs were certainly good and, with the right front man to deliver them, much better than good enough.
Spaceland’s July residents, Alaska!, got off to a rough start on “The Light,” with new drummer Lesley Ishino taking a few minutes to find the track’s speed-shifting groove, but the trio fell into lockstep on the very next song, the hard-charging “Love (To Be Your Main),” and by the time the band performed its closing “S.S.” — which found singer-guitarist Imaad Wasif writhing on the ground in the throes of a magnificently cathartic guitar solo — the crowd’s admiration was as big as the state for which they were named. (Liam Gowing)
at the Troubadour, July 23
Since their last L.A. headlining appearance (at El Rey in April), Idlewild’s stateside assault has continued unabated, including an exhaustive club tour and an arena jaunt with Pearl Jam. Tonight marks the end of this arduous trek behind the Scottish quintet’s third album, The Remote Part, and, while their chops are predictably lubed, Idlewild also appear drained and semipresent, mailing in parts of their set between flashes of bounding energy and interested, if introverted, sensitivity.
The place is packed yet strangely static as, for all their raucous edges, vocal interplay and purposeful rhythms, Idlewild remain chiefly a stand-and-listen affair, and their performances, though consistently engaging, rarely levitate to the truly spectacular. Yet they possess a clutch of tunes sufficiently robust to weather even the most weary of performances. Idlewild’s material, as they say back in Blighty, is a game of two halves: spirited, Smithsy anthems on the one hand (the hard-to-resist “You Held the World in Your Arms” and bombastic “A Modern Way of Letting Go”); Celtic-tinged, maudlin folky laments on the other (“American English,” “In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction”), at once evoking the poetry of the glens and the pub’s ale-sodden nostalgia. Looking like they’ve recently rolled out of bed (which is possible), Idlewild have grown increasingly disheveled as this tour’s rolled on, bassist Gavin Fox’s shaggy headbanging a foil to front man Roddy Woomble’s won’t-meet-your-eye stumbling and guitarist Rod Jones’ bouts of spastic leaping. A well-earned encore deflates into four inward-looking tunes (including an obscure Jackson C. Frank cover), a display of integrity both admirable and frustrating.
Idlewild are a diverse and diligent act whose charms have been overshadowed by omnipresent compatriots Coldplay and Radiohead. Yet, while their songwriting and stylistic signature are increasingly defined, Idlewild’s show still sometimes resembles an enthusiastic rehearsal. (Paul Rogers)