Palm Springsteen, Collapsing Scenery, The Big Pink At Zebulon, Friday February 9th 2018
Palm Springsteen opened Friday night’s gig at Zebulon café, and if it was still comfortable to walk through the crowd at the beginning of the evening, I noticed a long line of people who were trying to get in by midnight. The show was free and was featuring three hot new bands in this very cool place, so what was not to like?
Palm Sprinsteen, with Nick Hinman on vocals and guitar, Hayden Tobin on guitar, Kyle Sirell on drums, and Luca Buccellati on synth, had a very festive sound, with hard hitting synth tempos and screaming high-in-reverb vocals, the kind of joyful and boisterous music that makes you want to dance and send beach balloons at the face of people. Their punk dances were obviously mixing diverse ideas, from synth New Wave to post punk and beyond, while they have admitted influences from Gary Numan, Suicide, or even New Order. If they have even been compared to the Talking Heads, their moniker may have been a desire to unite both coasts, with nevertheless, a more New York sound than what you would expect from a Californian band. During their high energy set, I certainly heard some influence from the Strokes, and all I can say is that is that the front of the stage became a violent dance floor while the band was playing with a strong assurance and a lot of cowbells. The band opened for Foster the People last year, so there is the possibility that they could follow the same instantaneous ascension with their electrifying dance tunes.
The next band, Collapsing Scenery, was a scene not to miss although their chaotic sound was probably the hardest of the night to describe. The duo made of Don De Vore and Reggie Debris have come up with a noisy and trashy act, where dissonance, distortion and experimentation reigned with industrial soundwaves haunted by distressed reverberating vocals buried in the gritty noise. It was part gothic dance floor, part artsy punk project and apocalyptic announcement, while their very wordy lyrics were politically charged. Singer Reggie Debris was as theatrical as you can be, speaking more than singing, evolving in the dark a while bulb was flashing its violent white light from the floor. He knelt down a few times, and even fell down from the stage to roll his back on the floor at the crowd’s feet. ‘You are a sex god’ screamed at him a girl! Even though their influences ranged from industrial to noise, hip-hop, techno, 80s/90s English indie and no wave, their unusual and abrasive music sounded like anything else, mixing fun, dance, with so much weirdness in the final result, that the band seemed to be the ambassadors for Los Angeles underground scene.
Electronic rock band from London, the Big Pink were the headliners, and I would not be able to recognize them because they played behind a fog so dense I never saw their faces! If it didn’t make photographers’ life easy, it surely built an ambiance of mystery where the fuzzy music could spread its energy and dynamism. The Big Pink (which is these days Robertson “Robbie” Furze on vocals and guitar, Nicole Emery on bass and Bradford Lee Conroy on drums) had big hooks, sang with harmonious female-male vocals. Their psychedelic shoegaze soundscapes were rather dark and often furious with plenty of fuzz guitars and a nice contrast between Nicole Emery’s bright and ethereal voice and Robbie Furze’s more mournful tone. As I didn’t see any setlist, it’s difficult to know what they played, but since they have been working on new material, it’s likely they played new songs, beside old hits like ‘Velvet’, from their 2009 album ‘A Brief History Of Love’. Their style was bombastic till the end, working like a series of Brit pop anthems with textures reminiscent of The Verve and Richard Ashcroft. Since they have a series of upcoming dates with Wolf Alice in much larger venues, It was a cool opportunity to see the band give a very intimate performance, a chance to appreciate a sound-made-for-an-arena in a cool little venue.