|Photos by Mark Hunter|
ELEFANT; EVERYBODY ELSE; RUN, RUN, RUN
at the Henry Fonda Theater, January 20
A very packed house supported some local darlings and the boys from New York. As always, Run, Run, Run served up a straight-up set of rock & roll and superlative hairstyles; it's hard to buy the shoegazer comparisons they've received. As time goes by, they're crafting their sound and opening for just about every band that passes through town.
As for fellow neighbors Everybody Else, there's an obvious problem with a name
like that, and in a sense, they do sound like everybody else – straightforward
indie rock with solid musicianship and no crazy tricks. Regardless, they're a
tight outfit and turn out catchy tunes.
Elefant could be the Psych Furs for the new millennium if the Furs weren't
still packing houses and if Elefant had a bit more range. However, the band
did exhibit enough swagger to prompt a mass migration of overly excited girls
from bar to stage. Diego Garcia, Elefant's swarthy Argentine front man, was
almost disproportionately the focal point. Sauntering across the stage, tossing
his hair gingerly, growling low – those years studying Iggy videos have paid
off. While the band play their moody rock extremely well, the highlight arrived
when Garcia took an acoustic turn during one of the encores, showing off varied
Yes, that was Gina Gershon in attendance. And yes, she is hot.
DJ QBERT, DJ SWAMP, GRANDWIZZARD THEODORE
at the Viper Room, January 21
The room explodes in sweaty fervor as DJ Icy-Ice plunks down Public Enemy's
“Fight the Power,” flowing like the fine wisps of jay that curl through the
hot club air. DJ Flair's electro spectrum-ripping begins as cameras project
the affair onstage. His pants-shaking bass whips through the audience; his surgical
hands don't blur so much as flash like precision instruments. Slowly along the
right side of the stage squeeze A-Trak, DJ Disc, QBert and Z-Trip. They hang
out and watch or take turns, DJ Disc starting a duel with Flair on the Vestax
QFO integrated mixer-turntable.
As A-Trak sits and spins, the appearance is that of a skilled journeyman at
an age-old trade like smithing or brewing. QBert takes the reins amid a crushing
sea of applause and cheers, beginning with speaker-eating breaks wrought from
Cagean needle feedback and the physical properties of vinyl itself. “We call
this ‘The Masters Tour,' he says, the funk, early-'80s NYC electro and funky
Krautrock coming from angles not even that Nina Blackwood robot from the “Rockit”
video could match.
Everyone renders tribute unto Caesar as hip-hop scratch inventor GrandWizzard
Theodore comes in with a skanking beat culled from Akira Ifukube's score to
Godzilla. It's like that original NYC frisson where everyone crowded
elbow to elbow, checking the DJ out between segues and wondering where they
could get those records. Crazy hesher DJ Swamp follows, laying down some fine
Gazzari-era metal loops spiked with gabber, the armored car of his beats beating
the potholes of boredom while the whole evening reminds you that you used to
love scratching the hell out of your zipper to this shit back in the day.
— David Cotner
at the Roxy, January 18
Loose and boozy metal is about as unfashionable as Axl Rose's old head scarves
right now, but don't tell that to Philly's Silvertide. Primed to be Clive Davis'
rock & roll redeemers, the young fellas had a somewhat sparse crowd to mug and
chug for when they took the Roxy stage, but they weren't about to abandon the
arena-size audacity that got 'em signed in the first place. Guitarist Nick Perri
(wearer of said hair accouterment) definitely knows how to fondle a guitar,
and he pulled off his Angus Young spasms, both physically and sonically, with
impressive precision, even if his overzealousness seemed like attention-whoring
at times. Perhaps if singer Walt Lafty had a more powerful presence . . . but
the waify crooner's Chris Robinson ish vox were too often drowned in the maelstrom
of ricocheting riffs and bass lines spewed by his bandmates – a departure from
their Oliver Leiber-produced J Records debut, which boasted a bluesier, vocal-driven
mix. Still, Lafty did attempt to make his own impression with a ballsy stunt
that a more seasoned performer would never dare attempt (even on the intentionally
over-the-top Metal Skool night, which this wasn't). Ambling sweaty and shirtless
out into the crowd, he commanded everyone to get down – yes, all the way down
– on their knees for a sing-along. Demanding such subservience from an L.A.
crowd . . . well, it's rock & roll suicide. Or so you'd think. But just as we
cringed for the inevitable awkward lack of response, bodies started to fall
— Lina Lecaro
at Spaceland, January 21
What to do when a key songwriter in your band (in this case Jimmy LaValle) quits
to focus on his recorded-with-Sigur-Rós, this-week's-The O.C.-featured side
project (the Album Leaf)? “Jimmy's like this conduit between the emo kids and
the techno kids,” one hipster was overheard extolling amid the crowded house
who showed up curious to hear what San Diego's Tristeza sounds like since LaValle's
Having since recruited Alison Ables (the Nervous Return) to take LaValle's half
of lead-guitar duties, joining new keyboard player Sean Ogilvie and founding
members Christopher Sprague on guitar, Luis Hermosillo on bass and Jimmy Lehner
on drums, the band debuted an entirely new batch of through-composed instrumentals
that mostly eschewed the emo-techno common ground on which LaValle's Album Leaf
and others such as the Postal Service have trod, favoring the more Tortoise-like
explorations of 1999's Spine & Sensory. It was all eyes-on-fretboards
onstage as Tristeza perpetuated their early sound: cleanly played twin lead
guitars weaving intricate, note-on-note riffs atop ambient keyboards and a studied
post-rock rhythm section. While some new melodies weren't as tight, the band
maintained their knack for deftly segueing through a range of sonic vignettes.
Lehner's solid drumming punctuated otherwise static moments, with raps on the
off beat that jarred the shimmering guitars along their pleasant progression
of motifs. One of the new tunes, “Balabaristas,” encompassed six or seven distinct
passages, including a dub-infused foray with delayed guitar, while the solid
“Palindrome Dome” – named for the geodesic practice space the band inhabits
in Tijuana – engaged the crowd with its catchy vintage-Tristeza guitars.
Looking for a new label, Tristeza are using the current tour to raise funds
for next month's recording sessions. Watch out; they've got 22 new songs, some
of which will incorporate additional electronics and new timbres, including
classical acoustic guitar and (gasp!) the human voice.
— Mark Hefflinger
at Zen, January 23
Ladies in the know made their way to Zen's red room for the second incarnation
of Ditch, a queer women's event that bills itself as a unique blend of thought-provoking
intellectualism and libidinous revelry. The room was packed, as more than 200
women – from Asian baby dykes flaunting mulhawks (it's the new uniform) to lip-locked
couples impervious to the outside world – came to witness the spectacle. Organized
by a bevy of well-known academics and artists, Ditch aims to fill a long-standing
void in the lesbian community, but melding academic theory with entertainment
can be tricky.
The evening peaked early when the Miracle Whips took the stage for their debut
burlesque performance. They kicked off with a racy striptease to Prince's “Darling
Nikki” and followed with a Bush satire before trading in their corsets for thin
white tank tops and inviting women to soak them with water guns for a $1 donation
– an attraction so popular that the number of participants had to be limited.
(The Miracle Whips also drew an unwelcome small contingent of straight-boy gawkers.)
Two experimental performances followed. The first featured a woman wearing a
fantastical, avian-inspired headpiece (think chef's hat coated in white feathers)
while making her way through the audience and plugging in cables in a painfully
protracted manner. That was called Flight, and many in the audience took that
as a cue, drifting into the adjacent lobby. Then came Marriage, a New York-based
audiovisual art-school duo featuring two women in futuristic white clothes droning
nonsensical statements over a background of mostly mundane images. “It's like
Matthew Barney meets Björk,” one audience member commented. “I know they've
already met, but this is tragic.”
More successful was the booty-shaking portion of the evening's festivities,
helped along by the hip-hop-infused beats of DJ Triple X. There were even a
couple of celebrity sightings, with Katherine Moennig of The L-Word
and Clea DuVall of Carnivàle both making the scene.
Unlike the first Ditch event, this one wrapped up by 11:30. The next salon –
they're monthly from now on – is slated for February 13 and will feature a critical
look at love, with a sex-toy discussion and something called “critical karaoke.”
Despite a few kinks, Ditch is a welcome alternative to the typical nightclub.
— Elina Slatkin
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