It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to get the go-ahead to get your friends together to drink some beers and have a jam session right in the middle of Amoeba Music on a Wednesday summer night. Mind you, if you're Michel Gondry, you're just about clever and French enough to pull that off, and major bonus if you have a new DVD of music videos, shorts and other trippy ephemera to promote. Everybody wins! Particularly the gaggle of adoring young hipsters and film students (We counted at least three USC School of Cinema t-shirts and/or bags) who crowd tight up against the stage and wait so patiently even as the director runs late. (Then again, it's a pleasure simply to be inside Amoeba's relatively clean air space and not outside on Sunset in the arid, brushfire-enhanced funk. Nasty.)
Once Gondry arrives, he and his small band of trip-meisters (including the great Mia Doi Todd on vocals) launch into a short but delightfully spacey set of funky beats and synth soundscapes, some completely unintentional (That's the most feedback we've ever heard from an upright bass — ever) but in the end, it somehow just adds to the charm. There are unexpected cover versions (A plucky, torchy “La Vie en Rose” is excellent; a slightly droney “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” less so) and a litany of bleeps, bloops, chirps and tweets that unfurl in waves over the drums Gondry pounds out with a look of intense concentration. You think he clears his head when he's drumming, or does he come up with his best and most cracktastic ideas when he's pounding the skins? Somebody should ask him; better get in line quick, though, there are a lot of DVDs waiting to get inked by the master.