A Few Bands I Saw During The Christmas Break
The holidays are not a good time to see live shows, everything slows down, some clubs even take a week off, and it’s cold at night outside! However, I managed to see some music live during the week between Christmas and New Year Eve. Here a few bands who kept playing through the winter blues.
The Bots: Two brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei) on guitar and drums, they put the Echo on fire with some Hendrix-like solos and a punk fury, trashing the place in a bluesy distortion. If such a simple combination has been done many times before, they managed to sound interesting and animated by a true punk spirit, igniting a moshing movement in the crowd. Although they played in a very dim light, they looked very young, and this is even more impressive when you will know they have already completed two Vans Warped Tours, two AFROPUNK Festival Tours and countless European Festivals and have supported the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tenacious D, Blur and Damon Albarn’s Africa Express, Refused and Bad Brains. Add to this three self-released EPs – they have played since they were just 12 and 15 – and you will understand why Rolling Stone named them artists ‘Most Likely To Succeed’ after their Coachella performance in 2014. They also played at Tyler the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Festival this year, as backing band for Left Brain, which probably means they are more than your average bluesy duo. The other night, Anaiah was also doing an electronic set at the Echo, and the music was much more dreamy, even bucolic habited by sci-fi beats, all sort of background noises and beats and plaintive vocals. His pop melodies were cultivating some strangeness like a Panda Bear track, and it was sometimes getting agitated, turning in a manic dance to suave serenade, blending genres over electro beeps and fluid swirls, layered like a busy electronic forest, whereas his last track was much more peaceful but aching in every direction.
Jesus Sons: I have seen them a few times, and each time I enjoy their set even more, the five of them play a ferocious blues-rock country, the type of music that would make you take the road à la easy rider, it’s a wild ride with hyper layered 70’s guitars which could have been fueled by years of whiskey-drinking and a few road motorcycle movies. So many bands have found inspiration in this southern country rock roots, however, Jesus Sons dig very deep and refresh the style with great ease with tight guitars and a slide on the side, some honky-tonk, a tough attitude, and some arena rock licks, and classic rock jams piling at the top of each other. Sure they will bring you in mind many rock legends, but that can’t be a bad thing, and of course their moniker is lifted from Lou Reed’s song.
The Blank Tapes: They were a pop-rock garage band, with hooky and upbeat songs that had often a sort of Kinks vibe,… just listen to ‘Have A Little Fun With You’, and tell me if I am wrong. Fronted by multi-instrumentalist Matt Adams, a man who has produced over a dozen albums on Volcom, Burger Records, Antenna Farm and White Noise, the band played a charming set, filled with dynamic and sunny songs for a winter night. However not everything was cute bouncy tunes, they also sometimes departed into a psychedelic summer of love episode, with a few mad trippy guitar solos, well, he is originally from San Francisco.
Litronix: He was a one-man show, wearing a white bomber and a fluorescent wristband, playing synth and an occasional guitar, and his number was very diverse, even fearless in a way, as he was taking the mic and moving from his electro-pop to a hard dance floor in a few minutes. His compositions could start from dream pop with a reverb-cathedral effect à la Perfume Genius, to adventurous and thorny surprises, morphing into something completely different. And behind the pop electronica, there was a real glam-disco boy band for one.
Avi Buffalo: I had seen them before, or rather him because Avi Buffalo is essentially singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Avigdor Benyamin Zahner-Isenberg, and he composes some weird and hooky melodies that he often sings with a remarkable falsetto croon. I first discovered him thanks to his most Shins-esque song ‘What’s In It For?’, but his material has diversified into poignant to pensive ballads and again this falsetto that could brings Neil Young in mind, or intense, loud and layered songs mixing jangling guitars with atmospheric keys bringing a few blissful moments. He still looks like a kid, a young wizard with a guitar and as if these pieces were not Beatles-que enough, he also covered George Harrison’s ‘Wah-Wah’.
WRM$: For some reasons, probably because of their moniker, I thought they would be a punk band, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth, as they were rather an experimental noise shoegaze trio, playing in the dark except for a bright neon light on the side. The singer was pushing a crying-hurling chant, which got lost very deep below the grunginess, fuzziness and shoegazingness of the music, they had hyper hypnotic guitars and overall an atmospheric and terrible darkness that, strangely, could also be sun-drenched at the same time.
Facial: They had a residency at the Hi Hat every Tuesday, and the trio played a loud, hard-hitting set when I saw them. They were as aggressive and somber as an hardcore band – as a matter of fact, they covered Minor Threat – with dark low bass riffs, a very muscular and in-your-face delivery, and the sort of shouting that makes the neck veins pop up from rage, as Dave Grohl knows how to do it so well. Punk, hardcore, post-punk angry songs, they got heated, switching places between bass and drums, pointing the neck of a guitar toward the ceiling and making dramatic moves before embarking in a furious chorus of drums and guitar,… they sounded a bit like these current times, dark and nihilistic.