The Awkwards, Guineafowl, Rainbow Arabia and Liam Finn
October 6, 2011
The Echo Park crowd dressed in tight jeans and canvas oxfords flitted through a half-block stretch on Sunset as Filter Magazine's second annual Culture Collide Festival kicked off Thursday. International acts performed on small stages and cozy surroundings to a welcoming audience. Origami Vinyl, Echo Park Independent Co-op, Taix, the Echo and the Echoplex hosted 20 bands from countries ranging from Israel to Colombia.
Thursday's low-key crowd allowed everyone enough room to hold their beers without splashing it on their neighbor. They bobbed their heads to Switzerland's The Awkwards, Australia's Guineafowl, Los Angeles's Rainbow Arabia and New Zealand's Liam Finn.
Poppy punk band The Awkwards came on at 9 p.m. in the red carpeted lounge at Taix. The lead singer looked like younger versions of Charlie and Craig Reed from The Proclaimers, or Anthony Michael Hall circa 1985. The room filled up and random people screamed, "Yeah, The Awkwards!," but folks didn't really know what to do with themselves as the band's frenzied riffs and fast, hard drumming interrupted the room's languid atmosphere.
I couldn't catch most of their lyrics, but all of the music was worth jumping up and down to. There should've been a mosh pit, sweaty drunk people falling on top of each other and a ton of head banging.
Incorporating psychedelic, disco, synth rock, punk and what seemed like hard-edged polka, The Awkwards blended it all together into a surprisingly cohesive and fun mix. One song reminded me of the "Bialy and Lox Conga" from the Requiem for a Dream score, but better even. They ended their set by shouting out Buck 65, threw sideways peace signs and said, "Represent."
Indie electronic group Guineafowl started with dreamy, space age-y music that felt like a breath of fresh air. What immediately came to mind were hippies with flowers in their hair swaying in a wheat field tripping on acid. But the beats were more grounded even though their lyrics to "In Our Circles" did seem hippyish: "We form in our circles to discuss things with purpose, issues to address, problems and their mess, kids can dance dance dance dance dance dance dance."
Husband and wife duo Rainbow Arabia were the most low key performers of the evening. Their world electronic music sounded like it belonged in soundtracks to movies where the protagonist punches the sky after kissing Molly Ringwald, particularly "Without You." "They'll be what they are, and I'll be, so lonely, without you."
Singer Tiffany Preston grew more animated with this song, simultaneously trying to dance across the small stage at the Echo but having her flow interrupted as she sidestepped the numerous wires plugged into their speakers and instruments. Danny Preston remained behind his keyboard and synthesized melodies while Tiffany sang, two-stepped, played guitar, blew through a melodica and whistle and hit a tambourine sometimes all seemingly at the same time to the African and Middle Eastern inflected songs.
Liam Finn review below.
Liam Finn burst onto the stage alone, first playing guitar, then drums. You could tell his set was going to be the complete opposite of the previous two ethereal groups. "There's bands here from all over the world, but I don't think they've traveled as far as we have," he said (they're from New Zealand). Son of Neil Finn, Crowded House's singer-songwriter, Liam has an exuberant style all his own that ranged from sweat flying off his hair while striking violently at his guitar, or screwing his face into deranged expressions while banging furiously on the drums.
"We couldn't fit our grand piano on this stage, we couldn't fit our upright and we couldn't even fit our shitty electric keyboard so I'm just going to have to sing this next one to you like an old school crooner," said Liam. Combining indie rock, pop and a ton of drums, the singer had high energy through his nearly one-and-a-half-hour set.
Liam sang and performed mostly on guitar, but when he joined the band's drummer by playing on the stage's second set of drums, it was as if he beat out the audience's tiredness by sheer force of will. Everyone cheered and clapped and hollered. The drummers looked like two kids banging blissfully on their drum sets while the crowd whistled. He took it down to somber songs at times with "Energy Spent," with the audience singing along: "But I'm not broken, just a little energy spent, and it's a long way from here."
"Second Chance," with Marques Toliver on violin combined quiet harmonies that grew into a rock dance number, but Toliver's sad solo stole the show.
Liam Finn ended with "Jump" and "This Place is Killing Me" (about "shitty old London," he said) for his encore. "This is my favorite L.A. show I've probably had in years," he said, before finishing off the final song with a riff on Soul II Soul's "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)."
Set list for Rainbow Arabia and Liam Finn below.
Rainbow Arabia set list:
Holiday in Congo
Nothin' gonna be undone
I know I see I love I go
New Song (unnamed)
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Liam Finn set list: