This Is Why Opening Bands Are Important Too
People have two different attitudes when it comes to opening bands, either they totally ignore them, arrive late or even worst, speak and drink during their set, or they listen to the music,… I always belong to the second group, opening bands are important, after all an opening band could be the headliner of tomorrow. I realized I have seen many bands which are opening for a lot of upcoming big acts here in Los Angeles, and why not going to the show to see these openers?
Spencer Ludwig is opening for Bebe Rexha at the Fonda on March 8th, and I saw him at Live Nation ‘Ones To Watch’ & KROQ ‘Locals Only’, last September. He was an original, playing trumpet while reworking an old-school musical style, and if he has cited Miles Davis and Michael Jackson as the inspirations for his soul-funk pop songs, I thought he was Prince with a trumpet! He impressed everyone with what I could call timeless music.
Kid Wave is opening for The Shins at the El Rey on March 10th, and they were part of the lineup for Girlschool at The Bootleg Theater, last January. Kid Wave is fronted by the very dynamic Lea Emmery, and the entire band sounded tight and at ease, producing scorching riffs with fuzzy guitars and dreamy textures. They were cool to watch thanks to Emmery’s good looks and messy hair and interesting to listen to because of their poppy hooks.
Dengue Fever is opening for Tinariwen at the Fonda on March 31st, and I saw the large ensemble at Amoeba in 2015. They play music with a lush and ample orchestration, using a lot of instruments, saxophone, small trumpet, keyboard and flute beside the usual guitar-drums-bass classic rock combination. They could be one of the most diverse rock bands I have ever seen, on the human as well as on the sonic levels. Their lead singer Chhom Nimol has an inimitable voice, crooning tearing lullabies, producing a high-pitch Khmer chant on almost every number, while she can also rap in the middle of another tune.
Zipper Club is opening for Banks & Steelz at the El Rey on April 17th, and I saw the trio at the Satellite last August. Their brand of indie rock goes from a 80’s New Wave-y vibe and stomping drum beats to some more post-punk-oriented songs, bringing up a cold tone with their very distinct girl-boy dialogues. They could have sounded like the Smashing Pumpkins crossed with Postal Service.
Broods is opening for Empire of the Sun at the Shrine on April 19th, and I saw the brother and sister duo from New Zealand when they were visiting Amoeba in June 2016. These two looked really good and young, serious and very focused on their quiet and melancholic songs, which had a vague melancholic R&B vibe, and probably sounded sadder than on the recorded album. It was emotional-soulful pop, sang with calculated emotions, and child-like vocals turning into a few occasional and powerful croons.
Foxtrax is opening for Barns Courtney at the El Rey on May 9th, I saw them at Molly Malone’s last June, and saying they put some enthusiasm in their performance would certainly be an understatement. They are a young and fresh band from Long Island, NY, but they already had an impressive stage presence and especially an amazing confidence in their music and impulsive songs. They actually were the type of band to convince anyone of their brilliance and passion at the first live show, with music turning into a bombast while they were mixing genres, sounding like a modest indie band with a U2 envy.
Le Butcherettes is opening for At the Drive In at the Shrine on May 13th, and I have seen Terri Gender Bender many times, like the time she played with Chris Common at Amoeba in 2015. Her voice is the powerhouse fueling the show, bold, versatile and strong going from operatic howl to creepy groan in a very surrealistic and entertaining way. Teresa Suárez (her real name) always seems to embody death threats, rebels and authority fighters, as she looks at the audience with a fierce stare, head up as if she was about to fight with everyone. She is a remarkable vocalist, who fits right in the middle of Nina Hagen, Corin Tucker and PJ Harvey, and she is an amazing performer, expressing so much in a single minute, getting crazy, like possessed by the demon she is often singing about, shaking everyone out of their torpor. She is always a must see, and she is Iggy Pop’s friend!
The Lemon Twigs are opening for Phoenix at the Hollywood Bowl on June 15th, I saw the two brothers in October at Amoeba and they were so lively, so colorful, so inventive and at the same time, they sounded so familiar that everyone fell in love with them. There were undeniable Beatles-que harmonies in their choruses as if the brothers had distilled the sound of the 60’s and the 70’s and reviewed it through their 2016 kids’ eyes, with a dose of indie rock and a lot of jumping and leg kicking. I still wonder which one of these two things was the most impressive, the crazy leaps in the air, or the fact you could hear The Beatles, Queens and Bowie in the same song.