Friday, February 20, 2004

Some recent shows

The Notwist @ El Rey

Lately, some of us have been piggybacking on my bud Tony, all-knowing Indie rock source who's been hitting all the shows. He tipped us off to this appearance in LA by The Notwist, who've intrigued me ever since Missy and Scott raved about them in Toronto. This innovative German outfit didn't disappoint, putting on an energetic show in which they jammed Autechre-styled moody techno pulsations with trobbing guitar/bass. A couple of my friends found Acher's voice too fey and wimpy for the band's muscular sound, but I dug the collision between the textured music and that fragile B&S-like vocals. Only gripe is they seemed to be a little off working their abrupt high/low dynamic. The song I dug most from their set was "One Step Inside Doesn't Mean You'll Understand", replete with sampled sax and little digital hiccups. Also, the two songs sung by the lead singer of Themselves (the opening band) were pretty dope.

Spotted at the show: Andre 3000 from OutKast.

Jon Brion @ Largo

I knew Jon Brion as the man behind the whimsical PUNCHDRUNK LOVE score, and later as the producer of Aimee Mann's albums. But I didn't know he was this crazy multi-instrumentalist impresario until he started wowing LA with his much-buzzed residency (every Friday) at the intimate club Largo. It took forever to get in, but Brion's virtuosity was well worth it. His shtick is to first play an instrument (the drums, say) solo, establishing a pattern, then digitally looping his solos and playing another instrument (keyboards, say) over the drum, then digitally looping the keyboards until finally he picks up the guitar and plays and sings over the looping drums and keyboards. As a listener, you feel like a producer isolating each instrument until Brion puts it all together. His solo stuff is a mixture of straight-ahead indie rock and bittersweet Rufus Wainwright-like ballads. Fine, but not especially impressive. It's when he starts taking requests that the show elevates. Someone yelled out "My Bloody Valentine doing "My Funny Valentine" (this was Feb. 13th at midnight), and Brion, after a five second pause to think through his song, played a fucking mean approximation of MBV's trippy sonic smears to go with a brittle, breathy (dare I say Chet-like?) vocal rendition of the standard. Good stuff.

Metric @ El Rey

My new pal Jo turned me on to this kickass band, fronted by strutting sex goddess Emily Haines. Metric's got this synth-heavy New Wave sound with powerful guitar hooks and a penchant for sudden dynamic shifts, but Haines' charisma and emotional range carries them. The addictive "Combat Baby" and the meandering and lovely "Hustle Rose" are the standouts.

Spotted at the Metric show: Frodo (aka the bizarre looking Elijah Wood).