Kera and the Lesbians
February 3, 2014
Last night, Kera and the Lesbians kicked off their Monday residency at The Echo with a gypsy caravan's worth of jangling guitars and Eastern European melodies. Their set, which included cuts from their newly released Lolipop Records EP Year 23, was accented by their frontwoman's theatrics on stage; a key ingredient to playing what they call “bipolar folk,” a musical style highlighted by rapid outbursts and sudden pauses, as if to jolt the senses.
Months leading up to last night's show, stories had been circulating about the compelling, spastic performance style of frontwoman Kera Armendariz – the only lesbian in the group, actually, fronting a band that is all men. Reports from January's FOMO Fest described Kera as a 'punk rock Elvis.' The track “Nailbiter,” below, features New Orleans style horns and jazz singer vocals.
Prior to their set, we hung out with Kera backstage and chewed the fat on everything from her interest in ethnomusicology, her band's origins in San Diego (though they're now based in L.A.), and shopping for rare cassette tapes at Jacknife Records in Atwater Village.
Personal bias: I'll do almost anything for cassette tapes.
After a procession of funeral horns opened the set (played live on the trumpet), Kera strummed her acoustic guitar like some half-crazed theater performer in a Bohemian cabaret. Her gyrations – part Elvis, part Haitian Voodoo dancer – seemed to pop during the Nina Simone-tinged yowls on set opener “Gypsy Song,” which sounded something like a prohibition era jazz singer, except wired, as if an intravenous drip was pumping caffeine through her fingers.
Throughout the night, she had enough control to switch between rabid gypsy punk attacks into chilled-out speakeasy crooning.
The crowd: Those willing to walk across the pee-soaked Sunset Boulevard Bridge on a Monday night. Most of them will be back to see Kera again next week.
Standing next to her, bassist Phil MacNitt stoically grooved to the Balkan stomp on “Gypsy Song,” like a sedated Rasputin, while Kera went into a Chuck Berry duck walk and sang ferociously: “Like the leaves blowing in the wind / our wagon, our wagon, our wagon will CARRY ON, CARRY ON!”
To close the set, Kera and the Lesbians played their sun-soaked fan favorite “Year Past 23,” which opened with a loosey-goosey guitar riff reminiscent of Shannon and the Clams, featuring Kera's trembling vocals and the breezy interplay between the bass, spacey guitars, and steady drumming of Michael Delaney – who doesn't look old enough to pass the Echo's ID check.
See also: Lolipop Records Makes Mostly….Cassette Tapes
Overheard in the crowd: “Oh my God, serious girl crush, ugh.”
Random notebook dump: Surprised the blonde girl who just said that didn't rush the stage and straddle Kera.
Ball & Bundle
Cold Wind Blows
Year Past 23
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