All good things must come to an end. Last night local favorites Parson Red Heads played their second farewell show at the Echo. After five years of playing in Los Angeles, the Red Heads are moving back to their hometown of Portland, OR.
Attendees of the show were encouraged to wear the band's signature look of all white, and the audience was a smorgasbord of local musicians from an incredible number of bands including members from Airborne Toxic Event, Everest, Princeton, Le Switch, Olin and the Moon, and Radars to the Sky. It was a grand send-off for a folk-rock band that had become a staple in the LA music scene.
The evening kicked off with Flashing Red Lights who played a lukewarm, but endearing set of country tinged rock 'n' roll. They're one of those bands who seem to have all the right ingredients, but haven't let them simmer long enough and are a little underdone. However, they had moments of lovely cohesion, usually towards the end of a number when they let everything loosen up and their song evolved into a jam session. That's where they really shone. If they could just take that relaxed energy and feed it into the rest of their set, Flashing Red Lights could turn into something really promising.
Instead of a traditional DJ set, outside on the patio Judson & Mary played mini sets while the bands inside were setting up. The married couple sang bluegrass inspired folk songs about Echo Park, taco trucks, and making music in Los Angeles. Armed with a violin and an acoustic guitar, they made a well suited pair--neither musician outshone the other which is rare for duos.
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Up next was Red Cortez, formerly Weather Underground, who put on a rattling rock set that had all the trimmings of a religious revival. It was a foot stomping, hand clapping, knee-slapping good time. Lead singer Harley Prechtel-Cortez shimmied and shook like a man possessed, clutching a pink maraca, as he demanded attention from the crowd with his long yowls and yips the like of which Little Richard would have approved. Most of the set was comprised of songs from their upcoming debut release, which (unlike their EP) includes a horn section that complements Cortez' giant voice, but hasn't really gelled with the rest of the band yet. They stick out amongst the barnstorming gritty rock Red Cortez is known for, but hopefully it will all come together with more time.
By the time the Parsons took the stage, the Echo was packed with people who were there to send them off in grand fashion. The stage was littered with Parsons. It appeared as though every person who had ever shaken a tambourine or sang back up for them was there. Evan Way's comforting drawl blended with a nine part chorus that was buoyed by Sam Fowles bright guitar licks. Together they crafted the sunny folk pop tunes that the Parsons have become so famous for, with an army of noise-shakers backing up Brette Marie Way's rhythms.
The result was an almost two hour set packed with favorites including "Punctual As Usual," "Raymond," and "Got It All" as well as covers like "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman and The Flying Burrito Brothers' hit "Sin City." A nostalgic crowd sang along with a bittersweet enthusiasm to most of the choruses.
Near the end of the evening, Sam Fowles grinned at the crowd like a college student reassuring his high school girlfriend: "Don't worry, think of this as a long distance relationship, except we're going to work out." With talent like theirs we have no doubt that it will.