Nathaniel Rateliff, Teenage Wrist, Phoebe Bridgers, Tennis System, Repeater At The Echo, Monday June 29th 2015 Review
I often complain that bands sound too much alike, but this wasn’t certainly the case at this free Monday residency at the Echo. I got to see five bands, and they did offer a very eclectic range, and a little bit of something for everyone I guess. It was the last week for Tennis System’s residency, and they played quite late that night, but you had to come early for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. They were a great surprise with a formidable energy and a lot of soul. I am not using the term soul lightly, despite the cowboy hat on the head of one of the guitarists, they undoubtedly had an old-school rhythm & blues sound, and one of their songs even had a true Sam & Dave vibe. The sax, the horns and the wobbling Hammond were part of their audacious and lively R&B, with an explosive sound and a powerhouse that may have channeled some Springsteen or Joe Cocker gig. It was some happy and empowering music, cheered by the crowd, and that was just a regular Monday night. Rateliff had an intense charisma, step-walking-dancing, clapping, yelling with his big fat voice, performing like a born-frontman at the head of a 5-piece band. Their last song, which may have been entitled ‘S.O.B’, had this chain-gang-New-Orleans-mardi-gras big sound with acapella and clapping parts, totally great and received by the crowd with big applause. They are from Denver, Colorado, but there was something very southern, almost gospelic in their music and they have an upcoming album out August 21st
The next band Teenage Wrist couldn’t have sounded more different. They built a massive ready-to-blow-your-socks sound, which turned out to be a sort of poppy shoegaze with soft vocal harmonies. They started out with lot of distortion as if they were a metal band but ended up with a very pop vibe, just blown out of proportions by their big amps. They weren’t aggressive at all, despite the shaking of the guitars and some vibrant stage action, and they could have been a tender post hardcore band, or could we call this power-emo? They only have an EP out but already a lot of fans judging by the crowd.
Mid-set, I realized I had already seen Phoebe Bridgers, she had joined Ryan Adams on stage for a song last time I saw him at the Valley Performing Arts Center. And listening to her singing, I could completely understand why he had picked her, her voice was beautifully matching Adams’ melancholic folksy vibe. She is a very beautiful very young looking blonde woman, peacefully strumming her guitar, alone then joined by her drummer, singing with a youthful voice, which could reach some powerhouse moments. She was carrying a real darkness in her sad slow ballads, which certainly reminded me of Adams at time. The Heartbreaker singer has effectively released one of her songs, ‘Killer’, on his Pax-Am Records label. ‘Can the killer in me tame the fire in you’, she sings in this song, a line which sure had to bring Adams’ attention. She also had a song about funerals, an uplifting subject if there is one, another one about how life in Silverlake can be depressing, and she did cover a song by Guided by Voices… I read an interview of hers and two things made me smile, first she smiled when Adams compared her to Bob Dylan – I know, it sounds probably too much for the girl, but he was not being sarcastic at all – and her favorite album of all time is Elliott Smith’s ‘Either/Or’. As if she was not interesting enough, she is also in this punk band Sloppy Jane, I saw last weekend at the Satellite,… which means she is much more eclectic than her quiet, melancholic and thoughtful set would have let me think.
It was Tennis System’s residency and they played a very intense, super moody set, with songs alternating between breezy peaceful moments of bliss and stormy explosions with a maximum of agitation. I have seen the trio several times before, and they continue to impress people with these dreamy sequences interrupted by eruptions of dramatic noise. They usually bring a monster of distortion, but sound quite poppy between the hurricanes, and they are more fast and loud than aggressive. Although many people have qualified their music of shoegaze (and be aware they don’t like it) their songs would rather make you try to reach the sky than look at your shoes.
It was late but I stayed for Repeater, a Long Beach band which had a very sweet poppy sound, boy-girl harmonies and a great sense for catchy melodies. They had diverse songs too, evoking the late 70’s or 80’s with a Brit-rock vibe and a post-punk feeling. They also put a great energy in their set whereas very distinctive and sugary melodies were surfacing each time. Frontman-Singer Steve Krolikowski ran away in the middle of the set, to reappear with another guitar, and he did it so fast that his bandmates were all surprised, but a few seconds later they were back at playing another hooky song…
It was already 1 am when I got home and it was just an ordinary Monday night.