Trout-Faced Piano Man Sings of Sex, Dogs
Thursday, 6:56 p.m.: “You do know it’s raining .?.?. right?” All day I’ve been harboring a dream: a dream to ice skate and listen to rock music, simultaneously. At Pershing Square downtown, shoegazing electronica outfit Eskimohunter is scheduled to play the Spaceland on Ice winter concert series, but my glee for recreational multitasking withers under raindrops, as a text message from a comrade heralds the concert’s cancellation. The series continues each Thursday through January, though, and provided that the Almighty doesn’t pull any wicked rain shenanigans, I will brave foot fungus and fractures, and I will enjoy low-impact cardio and indie rock. Together, at last.
Friday, 11:17 p.m.: “It’s like Muse and Radiohead sat down and had a tea party .?.?.” In the snug and dimly lit Hotel Café, an acquaintance has just belched a sour puff of beer at me as he delivers his knee-jerk assessment of moody indie rockers Pedestrian. Yes, smoky falsettos and melancholy lyrics lend Pedestrian a certain pop-meets-funeral-dirge sensibility, but front man Joel Shearer, a veteran musician who’s toured with Damien Rice, seems adept at swapping guitars and moods, from the pensive “Overwhelmed” to the punk-laced “Brain on a Stick.” Plus, he gets snaps for quelling the legendarily rude chatter of Hotel Café patrons with aplomb, suggesting to those yammering: “You know, there’s a really good bar .?.?. in the back.” I shoot a look of reprimand to my acquaintance, but he’s in midconversation with someone else.
Friday, 11:46 p.m.: “We’re gonna get drunk, and get naked! Act like y’all are dogs in heat!” After the Hotel Café, a comrade and I explore the Cahuenga Corridor and duck into the newly opened Piano Bar off a side street. A wide, trout-faced man is anchored behind a grand piano — a massive brandy snifter perched on top, littered with a few scattered dollars — while he bastardizes the lyrics of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” to include porn references. My cohort turns to me stone-faced to say, “This is so wrong. And awesome.”
Saturday, 10:15 p.m.:The Wiltern is crammed to its Art Deco rafters with human beings, shifting their weight and peering over heads for signs that My Morning Jacket will begin what’s expected to be a marathon set. A taut scrim painted with a forest scene stands as a barrier between stage and audience. As the lights suddenly dim, a cloud of reefer plumes over the darkened crowd, and the Louisville-based rock-reggae fivesome burst onstage behind the screen, backlit by pulsing lights and crushing through “One Big Holiday” as the audience erupts. Bearded and bushy-haired, the silhouette of lead singer Jim James is seen to deliver hauntingly bright, clear vocals, stomping around in what appear to be moon boots. As they wrap up the opener with one of many epic crescendos, the translucent curtain finally drops like lingerie, revealing the band fully to the roar of the crowd. I’d seen My Morning Jacket at Coachella, in daylight and with an adjacent show by Kanye West bleeding through. But witnessing them perform full-throttle in a darkened theater, amid a seizure-inducing light display, I now understand their allure, and the weed clouds. Perhaps Mr. Jim James does as well, as he pauses after radio hit “Off the Record” to gaze at the ceiling of the Wiltern for a pontification: “If there’s one thing we could learn from a building like this, it’s that we could all use more hobbies. Look, instead of sitting on MySpace, they would build big, huge fucked-up buildings like this!” .?.?. Totally, dude.
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