March For Our Lives At The Hi Hat, Tuesday March 20th 2018
‘This song is called ‘Fuck yourself’ and it’s about our president’, said Lexie Papilion, the charismatic frontwoman of Bloodboy. Her band was headlining a night at the Hi Hat to raise money for a good cause. The show, presented by Buzzbands.LA was featuring four bands on Tuesday night for March For Our Lives, a movement dedicated to student-led activism around ending gun violence and the epidemic of mass shootings in our schools. May be a Tuesday night is not the best day of the week to gather a good crowd, it’s just the beginning of the week and the weekend is still far away, but some people had made the effort, and the bands which played were truly dedicated to the cause.
Raener was a dynamic electro-synth-guitar quartet (with Daniel Fox, Willem Van Boldrik, Zach Bilson and Daniel Vanchieri) which played rather experimental layered music, building dreamy atmospheres and synthetic soundscapes with crisp beats, a creative guitar, a deep bass and an emotive voice-transformer. I would say that one of their songs had a Radiohead emotional power, and if it may not be a very original comparison, I would certainly not give the impression that they were trying to imitate the famous UK band. Their music had many variations, and its moody melancholia was going from anxious and lush arrangements to more explosive parts, elegantly mixing electronica with instrumental parts. At the end of last year, the quarter released an EP, ‘Have you been here before’, and what singer Daniel Fox had to say in an interview, is not going to contradict my original feeling: ‘From graduating, to the dissolve of relationships, to our dependence on technology, to the strange turn the worlds seemed to take, these songs served as a coping mechanism to the information we’re constantly being bombarded with.’
Wildling and their bombastic sound was a change of pace. Singer Ryan Levine was a passionate frontman, dancing with great energy while sibling and bassist Justin Levine followed the loudness with the help of Andrew Ampaya on keys, Erik Janson on guitar and Casey Brothers on drums. They were going for a big and loud sound, part classic, part indie folk-rock, with a few catchy tunes and even some semi African guitars during their very upbeat and sweet song ‘Little Lies’. But they were not another white band going for this too-common Afropop sound, this song was a sort of oddity in a set otherwise quite diverse, with foot-stompers to very stormy tunes, that transformed the stage into very sweaty moments. As for their last tune, ‘Hummingbird’ it definitively had the bombast of something between Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. After their ‘here’ EP released last year – and a single ‘Lilywhite’ produced by Joe Chiccarelli (The Strokes, The Killers, Young the Giant) with Alex Salibian (Harry Styles, Elle King) – they have also toured with Young the Giant and their infectious choruses are definitively ready for the spotlight.
Lone Kodiak was joined on stage by singer Kate Copeland who was adding depth and strong harmonies in the vocals. Frontman Dainéal Parker said she had learnt all the songs in just an hour, which looked very impressive to me, as she sounded amazingly great. The indie rock band had a powerhouse sound with a passionate tone and harmonies sung at top of their lungs, and if their sound had been described as vast and moody, they sounded slightly melancholic but were playing with a determination to move mountains. At time, they could have sounded like a less radio-friendly version of the Killers, they had their grandiosity with emotional and strong vocals dominating the buoyant music. As the previous bands of the night, Lone Kodiak released an EP, ‘Feet in the Water’, last year and mid-set, Parker strongly invited everyone to sign the March For Our Lives sheet.
I had already seen Bloodboy a few times, and frontwoman Lexie Papilion was truly amazing each time. She has a striking and theatrical stage presence, with a sort of odd retro style and the stage antics of a female Freddy Mercury dressed like Marc Bolan. This time, she was wearing a blue dress above a red sweater, with long silver gloves and a cap saying ‘Fuck the NRA’, and she was doing her fired-up dancing perched on her high heels, while singing her pop anthems. It was difficult to know to decide which of the two things was leading the show, her soaring vocals or her unpredictable dancing,… or both? But it didn’t matter, Bloodboy was the whole package, the big poppy hooks and the fury of a punk show. It was a set of sweetness because of Lexie’s voice, but the message was clear, defiant and irresistible, as fierce as Papilion’s stormy stage presence. Bloodboy has an upcoming record ‘Punk Adjacent’, and I have heard that her already-out single ‘Sex Crime’ is doing very well.
All the bands got very vocal about their involvement in the March for Our Lives movement and if you are interested, the student-led has organized an upcoming march event this Saturday in solidarity with Florida school shooting victims.