Zola Jesus, Dean Wareham, Resplandor, The Balconies
Culture Collide Festival
Better Than… losing the last round of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? on live TV.
Friendly folks came to Echo Park this weekend from far flung places to play the Culture Collide festival. Sure, there was some atmospheric indie-pop clonery and some “Hey, look, we bought a drum machine!”-type acts, but there were still plenty of out-of-the-box bands to keep our interest piqued.
A godfather of cerebral indie music, Dean Wareham effectively opened the festival Thursday night at the Echo Park Methodist Church. He cracked church jokes between his twenty-year old songs as his wife Britta Phillips and drummer Andrew McDonald did their best Damon and Naomi. While Wareham wasn't exactly flawless — flubbing a few signature riffs — Phillips' mellifluous and follicle-straightening rendition of John and Yoko's “Listen, the Snow is Falling” filled in the cracks.
Dodging dozens of guys affecting faux-sheepish twee poses in Japanther t-shirts was Friday's order of the day, which is why we were glad to see Resplandor. The Peruvian trio — occasionally quintet — does one hell of a My Bloody Valentine meets Joy Division, but y'know, with a lady at the front. To a criminally un-packed room at Taix, they fuzzed through their bass-forward goth-sprinkled shoegaze. Apparently, they had just arrived after a pretty harrowing 24 hours of travel. If that's them tired, they must be unreal when they're well-rested.
Zola Jesus, aka Nika Roza Danilova, got up at the Echo on Friday night with a big announcement. “It all began right here at the Echo and in some ways it's ending here tonight…this is my last show as a resident of Los Angeles,” she said to boos from the crowd. She didn't say where she was going next, though.
She has the singing pipes of a gothic giant — haunting, sublime — and her stage presence is formidable despite her stature. When she's not jumping around in a techno-futuristic tribal dance, she seems less than human — an ethereal voice attached to a seraped apparition. Somewhere towards the end of her set, she jammed out in the crowd to the delight of her captivated fans. Closing out with her aeriform ballad “Vessel” seemed to bliss everyone out.
Just when we thought we were done for the evening, we caught the last half of Toronto's The Balconies. Woah. While many performers were crooning with their eyes closed, Balconies' frontwoman Jacquie Neville seemed just-released from captivity. Some call it power pop — we just call it rock. And rock the fuck out they did. Neville windmilled her untamed mane and bounced around the stage — capturing Karen O in a Joan Jett / Lita Ford sandwich. We're looking forward to a full set when they hit the Bootleg on Tuesday.
Personal Bias: Last time Galaxie 500 came through L.A. two years ago, they provided the backdrop to an amazing second date. This time…um, not so much.
The Crowd: Cultures, um, colliding…like, everywhere, man. Oh, and Zola Jesus' camp looked exactly like an all ages No H8 rally…in a good way. Two women at the front almost came to blows over who could get better phone footage during her set.
Random notebook dump… “Oh my. There's a guy in a Motörhead t-shirt fucking losing his goddamn shit right now. Over Zola Jesus? Nice.”
Zola Jesus set list below
Zola Jesus Set List
In Your Nature
Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake