The Music Box
Better than…your local Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers cover band.
Leather jackets and cardigans alike showed up at the recently reopened Music Box last night to see Cults take their victory lap. This New York band's first single “Go Outside” showed up mysteriously in 2010 on Bandcamp and launched this duo from college students to rock band in the blink of an eye. Last night was a celebration of their self titled debut album which came out less than a year ago; its popularity shows no signs of slowing down.
Opening for Cults was Spectrals, a project from Louis Jones, a fresh-faced kid from Yorkshire who could not have been more pleased to be here. “It's my first time in LA,” he beamed at the crowd, his cheeks flushed. “Everyone's been really nice. I'd like to come back.” His set felt almost like a green card audition. Three fourths of the band were clad in pastel shirts buttoned all the way to the neck, like they were on their way to convert some non-believers later, or have tea with their girlfriend's parents. The only rebel was the keyboardist, who deigned to wear a t-shirt. Whoever put this band on tour with Cults was a genius.
See, they managed to find a band that was younger, greener, and more innocent looking than the Cults, with internet buzz from the UK (not too much buzz as to overshadow the band, but just enough to make people curious and show up early) and a similar early 1960s inspired sound. With a low voice that could be easily confused with Julian Casablancas, Jones played a short summery set that was promising rather than inspiring, full of good ideas that hadn't fully cooked yet. Cults could not have dreamed up more perfect opener. Next to Spectrals they looked positively experienced and even a little dangerous.
Cults took the stage at 11, under a cloak of darkness that never really fully lifted. Black and white films containing fierce lions, queens in ornate headdresses, and perky synchronized swimmers were projected over the stage, so the band was always in half shadow. It was as if they wanted to keep all of the mystery, so easily achieved on the internet, and wrap themselves in it. All of the band members had long dark hair that fell to their chests, covering their faces while they played.
Lead singer Madeline Follin looked like a young school girl playing hooky in a black dress and leather jacket, but the lady has really matured as a performer over the past year. No longer timid, the young singer has learned to grab the microphone with both hands and let out giant blasts of candy infused vocals reminiscent of a young Cyndi Lauper.
The band ensured that those sugary vocals were covered in dark, fuzzy guitars, sharp handclaps, and delicate xylophone solos giving the set a sound that is distinctly their own. The set was a short forty-five minutes, but was unexpectedly sharp, like spiked punch at a high school dance. The evening closed with a guest appearance by Bethany Consentino. The Best Coast lead singer added her voice to “Oh My God” with Follin and unabashedly tried to teach her a few new dance moves which, let's be honest, she could use. Or perhaps a shot of tequila before the show. Something to loosen her up just a tiny bit.
Overheard in the Crowd: One young lady to another. “You should wear your Lakers jersey more often. It makes you more approachable.” (Does it?)
Personal bias: I like pretty much any music inspired by the early 1960s.
Random Notebook Dump: That kid (Spectrals) looks really corruptible. I really want to drag him to Vegas and buy him a dozen lap dances.