KXLU Fest IV AT Loyola Marymount University, Sunday March 18th 2018
KXLU, 88.9 FM, the college radio which broadcasts out of Loyola Marymount University celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, and it has kept its strong independence over the years, playing eclectic styles of music, from Latin jazz to Indie rock, and of course a lot of punk and underground music. The commercial-free radio had its special fest on Sunday afternoon, simply called KXLU Fest IV, held on the beautiful campus of Loyola Marymount, and since it was all free, on a beautiful and crisp day, you should have been there.
On a sunny afternoon, there is nothing better than live music around foodtrucks, vinyl and fanzine booths and band merchandize, and if I had already seen all these bands before (except electronic beat master Mndsign), it was very good to see them there, as a very promising sign of their certain ascension to success and larger audiences.
I have seen the young trio Pinky Pinky countless number of times, but the three teenagers always play like pros and it is always a pleasure to see them perform. At the risk to repeat myself, I will once again mention drummer Anastasia Sanchez’s soulful deep voice and powerful melancholic howls, Eva Chambers’ bouncing bass and funny faces, as well as Isabelle Fields’ amazing Television-like guitar work. Their very mature sound was blending an old soul, a strong doo wop and girl group vibe with truly rocking grooves, and they had a lot of young fans around appreciating their inventive work and retro cool look. And if their quiet stage presence is equally the same each time I see them, they always end up making a lot of people foot tapping along. They are going to be part of Emerge Impact + Music showcase in Las Vegas on April 8th, with other familiar faces (Starcrawler and Lauren Ruth Ward), and will also headline the Echo on June 16th.
Wild Wing were exactly what they announce with their moniker, they were wild, with a super laid back attitude and a garage rock which brought to mind their more successful predecessors, such as FIDLAR, together PANGEA or even the Black Lips. There were a lot of guitar distortion, punk accelerations and backyard party freak-outs, for everyone’s best time. If you want an unruly punk set, just book them, their cow punk style (this is how they call their style on their bandcamp page) was the sort of loud sonic stage chaos, which brought smiles on a lot of faces thanks to a series of strong hooks, and their last song, the crazy wacky punk country ‘Hee Haw’, was a good example of this. It may have been a bit too early and too family-friendly for crowd surfing, but the vibe was there.
Band Aparte was once again great with frontman Brian Mendoza reinventing plenty of frontmen of the post-punk/new wave scene, from Robert Smith to Morrissey, although his dance was far more aggressive than anything you have experienced with the Smiths. Their dark sound is a sort of savant cocktail of that scene with tragico-romantic dancefloors haunted by Mendoza’s somber tenor tone, and his abrupt dance moves. He made the performance even more interesting with his frenetic crazy moves, slowly destroying a bouquet of red roses attached around the mic, never stopping his strange antics like a desperate and manic lover crying after his dead flowers, and getting creative at each step of the destruction. He jumped a few times from stage, and seduced everyone in the crowd, while a little girl, who probably was not older than 6 or 7, was glued to the stage the entire time, with her little shin on the stage floor, completely fascinated.
As for the other bands, I was already familiar with SEXTILE and their aggressive stylish punk music, but this could be way too generic to describe them because they surely have a peculiar sound, blending influences from dark wave, post punk, psychedelic electronica, industrial and even pure 70s punk. Frontman Brandy Keehn was barking his lines with conviction and sex appeal, while Cameron Michel was adding layers of electronics, synth and bass, Eddie Wuebben was head-banging over his keyboard the entire time, and drummer Melissa Scaduto never sat down. The quartet has come up with a great new noise, filled with hooks and outer space hypnotic sounds, reconciling darkness with dance floors, and if many have tried to do it before, Sextile has that violent energy combined with a new throb and a playful fuzz, making their brand of industrial goth as tense and claustrophobic as it is stylish. It was time for moshing and the kids did, over a chaos of dense layers of sounds marrying music of different times, but certainly addressing the present, and the frightening state of the US states.
The fest ended with American hip hop producer Mndsgn and his smooth sounds, mixing soul, 80s R&B, funk and hip hop and asking us all the time if we were feeling alright. Signed to Stones Throw Records, he founded Klipm0de with future Kendrick Lamar producer/collaborator Knxwledge in 2008, and he was making music for dark smoky rooms, while it was still clear outside…
The KXLU fests have featured acts such as Ariel Pink or Colleen Green in the past, and since they are serious tastemakers, I will obviously check what they have in store in their upcoming ones.