Night Nail, Tennis System, Magic Wands At The Echoplex, Tuesday July 8th 2014
Following Prayers, Night Nail had a record release party at the Echoplex on Tuesday night, and it was my second time seeing them: last time they were opening for the solo act of ex-Bauhaus bassist David J, and this could not have been more appropriate considering the dark tone of the band’s music. Last time I saw the LA quintet, they had left a new-wave-goth after-taste, with the names of post-punk legendary bands jumping to my mind, and this happened again on Tuesday. However, their sound was a bit more complex, layered with full synth swirls, sexy bass lines and tearing lead guitar solos at the top of it, leading to an explosive and ambitious full sound, ready for a bigger place. Frontman Brandon Robert had this super low baritone voice, and he efficiently used it, singing on a very monotonous-monochord tone, which accentuated even more the goth imagery. The ambiance, like the light, was dark and dim, but it didn’t mean everything was only about shoegazing and new wavy soundscapes. As many bands that embrace this genre they may bring some reminiscence of The Cure, grasping the darkness like night owls, but like Depeche Mode, they were also throwing slow-paced dance-floor numbers making people move. Detaching the mic from its stand, singer Brandon Robert announced a new song entitled ‘Nowhere’, a lugubrious dancing number, putting the cord of the mic around his neck, while evoking Ian Curtis’ gloom. One thing is certain, Night Nail embraces the dark wave whereas there are so many LA bands which ride the sunny surf wave, and it is always interesting to see that bright Los Angeles can inspire such darkness.
Next, Tennis System had decided to declare war to my eardrums. Although they were only three on stage, these guys were the kings of distortion, producing a massive and monster sound with an army of pedals, making their songs explode into another dimension. A few times I had to step back from the stage because of a sharp pain inside my right ear, and the most amusing thing was that many of their songs were actually starting by gentle pop melodies suddenly erupting into violent and noisy chaos, in a My-Bloody-Valentine sort-of-way. The trio was as loud as an army, and as soon as the multi-system pedal was in action, their explosive, amps-saturating, tinnitus-inducing sound was jumping at everyone’s ears and was only interrupted by these rare, almost peaceful moments. At the top of this, they were matching their fast and aggressive sound with nervous dances, bending on their instruments like guitar heroes. I should say that the sound was only aggressive for the crowd’s ears, the vibe was rather upbeat and poppy, which is amazing considering the level of decibels.
I had seen Magic Wands, the last band of the night, at the Warlocks Smokeout a few days ago, but I was still picking my brain to find the right words for describing their unique pop sound, a bit new wave, mostly upbeat, and often ethereal. Well, they have a tune called ‘Space’ (a very catchy one that they played at the end of their set) a song both rocking and dancing, propulsive like a X song, but krautrock-y and psychedelic like a new wave song of the 80s, and at the top of all this, did I say it was quite sexy? The duo combined their girl-boy harmonies on several songs above buoyant guitars and slow-spaced songs, sprawling into upbeat and hooky choruses or slightly darker tones. They have an album, ‘Aloha Moon’, that you can listen to on Spotify, they have toured or played shows alongside The Kills, The Horrors, The Raconteurs, The Black Keys, The Virgins, Black Kids, and The Jesus & Mary Chain, and they are preparing their second album, so we will hear about them soon. Past midnight, I realized we had started the night with Prayers’ self-described killwave and ended it with Magic Wands’ (also self-described) lovewave, and it had been quite a trip!