Bjorn And The Sun, Kolars, LP At The Echoplex, Monday March 21st 2016
Laura Pergolizzi, aka LP, has a residency at the Echoplex all this month, and I caught her third night this last Monday. I remember seeing her a few years ago and noticing that she simply had an amazing voice, as well as an impressive pedigree: as a songwriter, she has written for famous pop stars and bands such as Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch, Backstreet Boys and Rita Ora.
Bjorn and the Sun, a folk-blues band was opening the night, and they were a fresh and nice surprise, all blonde hair and denim, with a slight touch of Americana. Fronted by the beautiful Amanda Björn, the quite large ensemble looked a bit Laurel Canyon and sounded like a mix of rock, blues with a real poppy catchiness. How can you reinvent boy-girl harmonies and heartfelt country ballads? It’s definitely difficult, it has been done so many times before, nevertheless their sound was interesting and sparkling, with bluesy injections filtering through the overall bright and sunny tone,… it’s probably not a coincidence if they put sun in their moniker. Amanda explained that she and her partner David Donaldson decided last year to put all their belongings in her Beetle to drive through the country and find new inspiration. They recorded their new album in Nashville, with Andrija Tokic, a producer recommended by her mother (and not a bad choice as he is the one who recorded with Alabama Shakes). It was a new city, a new adventure and the birth of new songs she said, music making a connection between an upbeat California sound and the soulfulness of the south, bringing even keys and stomps for some of their last songs. With titles such as ‘Gypsy Soul’, ‘Woman of Faith’, ‘Tennessee’, ‘Young and Restless’ they worked on the crowd, inviting people to dance and clap, something they were already doing spontaneously. I can’t say it was a totally new sound but it was a feel-good moment, and something you wanted to learn and sing along while driving by a beautiful sunny afternoon.
Kolars was a really good surprise, a bit Jack-and-Meg duo, guy on guitar, girl on drums, a bit rockabilly with plenty of new sounds and inventiveness. The duo is a real couple, Rob and Lauren Brown Kolar, and their chemistry was truly noticeable. First of all Lauren was not your average drummer, as she stood at the top of a drum the whole time, using her jumping-tap-dancing capacity as much as her spaced-out drumming to provide the beats. Meanwhile Rob had the look and the hairdo of a flamboyant 50’s rocker, with a Elvis-meets-Eddie Cochran folded leg rocker singing in a vintage mic. Their number was bold and great at the same time, quite stripped down for the first songs, bringing up the right howls and the rockabilly twist, then getting more surfy layers as they progressed in their set. There was a certain vintage quality to their music, but also a real enthusiasm in what they were doing, and could I say one more time that their chemistry was real? As intense as Lauren’s powerful physical exercise on her drum. Of course, they covered Elvis Presley’s ‘Mystery Train’, which fitted marvelously in their set and the crowd could not get enough of their sexy swag and foot-tapping catchy rhythms. And to give them even more credit, you have to know that they are also part of the larger band, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, that Rob founded with his sister Rachel.
LP is probably the worst moniker to Google, unless you know her real name you won’t find her, but people who have found LP will never let her go. Laura Pergolizzi is an amazing vocalist with a unique and androgynous style, mixing operatic howls, powerful whistling and a raw and impressive vocal range. Being short myself, I hate to bring the attention on the size of a person, but she is such a petite woman with this big personality and immense voice, that watching her perform can only amaze you. She can reach very high notes over tunes with giant hooks, and suddenly everything sounds and looks grand.
On Monday night, she had a sort of country side going on, wearing the hat and torn off denim, taking the ukulele on some songs, going from plain country ‘Porcupine’ to skyrocketing pop ballads like ‘Tokyo Sunrise’, showcasing her incredible chords, and showing the same confidence from one song to the next, from one loud whistle to a clapping bombast. After a few songs, it became clear that this girl only had anthems that people wanted to sing-along to. She has already released 3 full albums and is currently working on her fourth one, but with this voice, this wild emotion she is able to communicate through her vocal range, this stage confidence, it’s astonishing she is not a star yet. Sure, her voice would put into shame any auto-tuned superstar, sure, her song ‘Into the Wild’ was picked up for a Citibank ad campaign, sure the Echoplex was packed with loyal fans singing all the lyrics, who, I am sure, will attend every night of her month residency, but shouldn’t this woman with this soaring voice and big smile fill theaters and arenas? Thanks to her mix of shyness – she seemed to hide behind her big curly hair – and boldness – she did jump in the crowd to sing almost mouth-to-mouth with a pretty girl – it’s probably coming soon. LP could certainly do very well for the rest of her life as a songwriter for megastars, but she has to consider she could become one of them soon.