David J. has always had a flair for the theatrical, and the busy ex-Bauhaus/Love & Rockets songwriter/musician brought it last night to Part Time Punks, presenting a dark cabaret-styled set with Portland's Adrian H and the Wounds as his backing band. The show was touted to feature music “spanning his entire career” but the fiendish fans who flocked to the club hoping for some familiar gloom-glam jams may have been surprised.
The set was more vaudeville than vamp-rock, a dramatic, old timey-feeling array of recent material, including numbers from J's new theatre piece inspired by the Black Dahlia and a decidedly more twisted take on Bauhaus classics than his estranged mate Peter Murphy is likely to do next Monday at The Mayan.
The last time we chatted with J., in advance of his Edie Sedgwick- inspired musical “Silver for Gold,” Bauhaus' brilliant swan song, Go Away White, had just come out, and he was gearing up to play Coachella with Rockets. It was clear he was glad to have space from Murphy, “like continents” he told us back then. Before the show last night, we hung out backstage with J. and asked about the current status of their relationship. Yup, they still need space. “Like planets now,” he said with a wry smile, adding that it's “frosty” between them. Speaking of frost, he'll be checking out his old comrade's show next week -we're guessing- when hell freezes over.
He still gets along with everyone else, he says, but new collaborators seem to inspire him most at the moment. He discovered the H & the Wounds playing Bar Sinister here in LA and tells us he knew right away that they would make a great backing band for his latest experimentations. The group are compelling to watch. H attacks the keyboard like a mad scientist intent on malevolent alchemy and the horn player adds a sexy vintage vibe to the proceedings. The set included Love & Rockets' “No New Tale To Tell” and Bauhaus' “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight” and the obligatory “Bela Lagosi's Dead” (the latter's arrangement seemed -shocker!- the most beguiling to the black shrouded crowd), plus material from J.'s forthcoming solo release, Not Long For This World, which concerns his “dealing with mortality,” and even an unexpected, reinterpreted children's fave (sung by H): “Chim Chimney” from Mary Poppins.
Openers The New Room and Sleep Mask offered a more traditional, droney take on the darkwave sound and style. Sleep Mask, featuring members of Mark Burgess' Chameleons, site Bauhaus among other bands (My Bloody Valentine and Sisters of Mercy) as inspiration, and they've got the goods to appeal to nouveau gloomsters (tight instrumentation, ominous grooves, androgynous, charismatic guys not afraid of eye makeup). The set may have been a little on the long side, and some songs sounded similar, but their noticeably large group of admirers in the crowd didn't mind the night running late. This scene, after all, doesn't even get going till well past the bewitching hour.
David J's “The Chanteuse and the Devil's Muse”, a reimagining of the tale of the Black Dahlia will kick off Theatrefication, a celebration of downtown LA's Broadway District centennial on March 26.
Part Time Punks offers “Depeche Mode vs. the Cure” DJ night next Sunday, March 20.
Follow Lina Lecaro on Twitter @L_in_A