Calvin Love With The Incredible 5hagatha & His Moog, Los Angeles Police Department At The Bootleg, Monday May 22nd 2017
The night started with some weird space-y organ, an intriguing submarine electronica going in many kaleidoscopic directions, throbbing like a Philip Glass avant-garde piece, endlessly sprawling its strangeness. After a few minutes, it took a real cinematic dimension, like the soundtrack for some futuristic movie of deep space exploration, and it did get obsessively intense, Ligeti intense, and if I didn’t see that black monolith appearing in the middle of the Bootleg stage, I got very close. The noise amplified to some outer space and white particle noise, and I was not sure where this was going, beyond the black hole void for sure, reaching another level of hypersonic particles,… then it became all industrial noises and glitches, a breathing monster, mechanical and organic at the same time. It’s strange how certain composition can wrap your brain without any melody.
Calvin Love has a Monday residency at the Bootleg in May, and the Incredible 5hagatha and His Moog did open the night with some esoteric electronica improvisation. The entire set was just one long composition of course, no song, no tune, nothing else but that piercing buzzing sawing noise.
The band called Los Angeles Police Department was next and this has to be one of these strange and un-googleable monikers that bands sometimes use to hide themselves… except that if you google Los Angeles Police Department + music, you find them very easily. Frontman Ryan Pollie explained it was their first show since the release of their self-title album, and right away, the music did sound very pretty, the sort of pure bedroom pop thing that people like Youth Lagoon used to make at his debut. Pollie sang with a poignant high falsetto and the tone went from heartbreaking to a pure innocence, while the music was browsing some 60’s leftovers enhanced with many keys. The contrast was obviously funny, if he was wearing a Jimmy Buffet shirt, his music was very sweet and a bit sad, but he was goofing around between songs even making saucy remarks, ‘This song is called ‘Hard’, but it’s not about boners, it’s about love… it has to do with boners I guess!’ Come on, how such an innocent sound could be about boners?
But it wasn’t simple music, the band had layers of guitars and keys, and Pollie was himself switching between the two, while pushing his delicate croon during a bucolic song called ‘The Birds’, before the Iron-and-Vine-esque ‘Ashlyn’. The keys and the rest were growing an ambitious, full,… and should I say a pets sounds orchestration? There was surely that sort of vibrant melancholia and I even heard the beginning of a waltz at one point. There were nevertheless some uplifts, all tinted by a vulnerability which never left the room.
Then Canadian (now based in LA) songwriter Calvin Love and his large band took the stage to play his wide-ranging songs, all colored by lots of sonic details, from keyboard to saxophone, bongo drums and slide guitar on the side. First of all, Calvin has a great charisma, tall, with a dark stare, he moved a bit like Father John Misty on stage, he may have been a bit less theatrical but he nevertheless had this same ease during his expansive dance moves and this couldn’t have been more true when he put his guitar down for a few expressive tunes. The music had shades of Americana (that slide guitar) but it was obviously something else, galloping free, dynamic but carried by his gentle but strong croon.
During a mesmerizing moment, he covered Roy Orbison’s ‘Running Scared’ with the help of Natalie Mering (of Weyes Blood), and the song didn’t feel out of place in the middle of the set, which says something about his music I suppose. Them, alternating between agitated and buoyant psychedelic soundscapes and passionate torch-like songs, he seemed to keep a pop sensibility with a wide vision, turned toward the past and the future… and what else can better demonstrate this than the title of his new EP ‘Ecdysis’? A term which designs the process of shedding an old skin in order to grow a brand new one, something musicians do all the time.