A dream collaboration between the bookish chanteuse Belle and Sebastian Bach (formerly of Skid Row), this pairing, surprisingly, does not result in power ballads with a Disneyesque twist, but in arch, rather precious Twee Pop. I own the superduo's If You're Feeling Sinister, an album stuffed with whimsical wit but also a rather fey sensibility that's always kept me from totally succumbing to the their charms. Live, their sound is richer, fuller, and dare I say...more muscular (that's what a five piece string section does for you). If you overlook Sebastian's acerbic prancing Scotsman shtick and Belle's mishaps with the Atkins Diet, their brand of highly melodic, Velvets/Byrds/Pet Sounds-tinged folk pop can be quite seductive. I even think I prefer the live "Like Dylan in the movies" and "Judy and the Dream of Horses" to the recorded versions. Still too fey and insistently pretty for me to fully embrace, but I can understand why they are the most popular band in the survey of my own friendsters.
B & S's drummer spinned at the Derby after the concert, mixing Euro hip-hop and a bit of dancehall. My eyes were directed elsewhere, as it were.
Sadly, perpetual lateness syndrome caused my group to miss the opener, buzz band and Unit-fave Bright Eyes. Too bad.
Scrabbel @ Spaceland, LA Aug 22, 2003
Scrabbel, fronted by Aislers Set member Ben Lee, traffics in dreamy, melancholic pop that, like B & S, is given body by a fine string section. A Bay Area band that often plays APAture events, Scrabbel's fine mellow listening on a Friday night. Cool people to hang with as well, these guys.
Soviet @ Spaceland, LA Aug 24, 2003
As befits a crowd that looks like extras in a Spandau Ballet video, Soviet is pure 80s retro, combining the straight-ahead synth sound of Depeche Mode with the hooks of Disintegration-era Cure and a vocalist who appears to be impersonating the lead singer of Simple Minds (god knows why). I couldn't discern a single post-Nirvana element in their sound, which means your mileage varies depending on how much you dig 80s New Wave to begin with. Me, not so much (yes -- Smiths, New Order, Cure; no -- pretty much everyone else; absolutely loathe Erasure). Fun, but eminently disposable.
The clattering retro punk band Babyland followed, a helpful antidote to the testosterone-draining music I've been privy to the last three nights. Only stayed for three or four songs (and, to honor Asian stereotypes, I was playing Galaga next to the bar half that time), but the big event is I introduced myself to Friendster celeb Tila Tequila, whom I saw at this show. A nice, wholesome girl to take home to Mom, that Tila.