Weekend Report: Mia Doi Todd, Carlos Nino, Gaby Hernandez, Grace Woodroofe and More Cram an Office Space with Music

if you look closely, you can see a reflection of the party in the curve of the balloon. (not really.)
if you look closely, you can see a reflection of the party in the curve of the balloon. (not really.)
Randall Roberts

We've just got one decent snapshot of Saturday night's party in Hancock Park at the offices of the Masses (or at least one that's not dark and blurry), and it was taken as we were sitting in an office chair staring up at the ceiling. We kinda sorta vowed that we wouldn't write about the performances we saw because the Masses have become friends and colleagues, but as a musical reporter for West Coast Sound, it'd be irresponsible of us to not at least note the oft-stunning of evening of music that took place in their second floor Hancock Park office space.

Over the course of at least six hours on Saturday night, the Masses posse presented a handful of musical peers into its workspace for an evening of performances. The space, consisting of offices and a couple little apartments, ended up crammed with people, who watched artists, including singer/songwriter Mia Doi Todd, Carlos Nino and Gaby Hernandez, Grace Woodroofe, Grant Leuchtner, and his Orchestra move from room to room playing music. Doi Todd performed in a hallway with multi-instrumentalist Andres Renteria (the two have a beautiful new CD out called Morning Music). Producer and Build an Ark mastermind Nino, whose new High With a Little Help From just came out in Europe and will see a stateside release next month, performed with longtime collaborator vocalist Hernandez in a bedroom as the crowd created animal sounds as accompaniment. Leuchtner sat on a living room floor and strummed out original songs and gorgeous covers of songs by Emmitt Rhodes, Quasi and the Beach Boys, and then moved to a toy organ to enlighten the room further.

The most thrilling performance we saw was by Australian singer Grace Woodroofe, whose midnight show crammed in the corner of the Masses' main office was a pretty incredible statement of purpose. She'd performed earlier in the night with her three-piece backing band at the Hotel Cafe. In the Cafe's red velvet confines, Woodroofe's sturdy and mournful songs fit that atmosphere. In a little room without a PA and enough room for maybe 50, she was a whole different thing: more powerful, dynamic, striking. She's only 19. She just finished recording with Ben Harper. She leaves for an Australian tour with her Austin-based band today. She's really really talented. (Obligatory disclosure: before working at the Weekly, I wrote a gratis press release for Woodroofe's demos.)

We had to leave before his Orchestra went on ... our head was about ready to explode. We regret missing them, as their forthcoming Field Guide to the Wilds is a rich and totally engaging orchestral rock album (and was produced by Carlos Nino). But there will be other evenings. Though few will be as thrilling. Who needs clubs when you've got bedrooms, living rooms and hallways?


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