Non Plus Ultra Benefit Show With Pinky Pinky, Melted and So Many Wizards, Saturday September 23rd 2017
Last March, the DIY venue Non Plus Ultra had to close down in the middle of a show… I know how it happened because I was there, ready to attend Thee Oh Sees’ gig inside the small Virgil village venue, but it never happened, Thee Oh Sees never took the stage and everyone went home very disappointed. An inspector from Building and Safety informed the venue that it was being shut down and cited for lack of permits, and I am afraid that the punk band was a bit too big for that kind of venue, as the space may have been overbooked.
Non Plus Ultra wants nevertheless to find a new space, and a benefit show to help everyone’s favorite DIY venue was held on Saturday evening in an underground location (a basement of a building on Broadway) downtown LA. The show, which was presented by KXLU 88.9FM and Dirty Laundry TV, was featuring three bands that I was familiar with, but it is always rewarding to see people unite for a cause like this.
By now, I have seen Pinky Pinky a few times, I arrived late for their set, as the entrance of the show was quite mysterious (I know I should have read their page!) but I can tell that the three young women are getting better and better each time. Anastasia Sanchez with her powerhouse soulful howls and big eyes looking at the ceiling is one charming drummer, completed by Eva Chambers’ bouncing bass and Isabelle Fields’ electrifying guitar work. Their sound is big and bold, with a sort of surf-bluesy guitar layer and girl harmonies, and at time, close to some intricate work you would hear on a Television record (listen to ‘Hot Under The Habit’). They have released an EP produced and recorded by Hanni El Khatib and Jonny Bell (Crystal Antlers), and they played a few of their retro soulful grooves with some unexpected and explosive parts. Should I say again that they are teenagers? However they sound mature beyond their young age, and their music is as inventive as it sounds close to the classics. The catchy ‘Spiders’ is one of my favorite songs of theirs, there is a timeless quality in it that is hard to find anywhere else in the indie garage rock crowd.
There is no doubt about it, Melted is always a lot of fun, the energy level of the trio tops anything you would expect from an ordinary garage punk rock band. They play as if they had received some mega-shots of adrenaline, with a search-and-destroy attitude and a spike of danger. It’s difficult to imagine a band playing faster than them, with their big poppy heart, their speed-up songs are short and expeditious, and even in this unusual venue, the band managed to start a mosh pit. There was something very joyful and uplifting in their riotous choruses, which was bringing in mind the happy punk pop anthems that made Fidlar so famous. Their set was wild and disheveled while the face of singer Justin E was literally melting in front of our eyes, as he had a way to vigorously shake his head during the more ferocious parts of their songs.
So Many Wizards was a bit calmer but still completely angst-driven with many upbeat parts and explosive moments along the way. The lo-fi project fronted by Nima Kazerouni, was part dreamy pop, part foot tapping, with unexpected outbursts of energy. Kazerouni’s vocals was often introducing the song with an air of melancholia, while the energy was built around guitar, keyboard and drums. They often made me think about a calm pop song suddenly shaken by trauma, earthquake and desperation or even anger. And if these abrupt slow-to-fast, dreamy-to-frantic changes may be a reflect of these confusing times, only joy and harmonies were transpiring from the frenzied tempo at the end, while the omnipresent warm keys combined with a lot of oooo-ooos made me think about a heartfelt combination of the Shins and the defunct LA band Moses Campbell.
Joy, melancholia and a serious DIY ethic could have been the motivation of the night, and because of events like this, there is hope for a new location for Non Plus Ultra.