Friday, November 30, 2007

The Softlightes at the Echoplex

I thoroughly enjoyed The Softlightes at the Detroit Bar the last time I saw them. It has been an excellent month with Monday night residencies so I drove out to the Echoplex to catch the final night with the Softlightes.

El Ten Eleven fooled me at first because I thought it was The Softlightes. It turns out that El Ten Eleven is Kristian Dunn (Guitar/Bass) and Tim Fogarty(Drums) from the Softlightes. Kristian was playing a 1977 Carvin Guitar/Bass doubleneck that was connected to 2 Digitech Whammy Pedals, 2 Boss Looping Pedals and a Line 6 Delay pedal. Kristian would sample his bass or guitar and proceed to lay stacks of loops on each other. Tim mixed acoustic and electronic drums to give the music a warm organic vibe. It was as if Battles and Pinback fought and El Ten Eleven won. Kristian also tapped into his inner Les Claypool with a fretless bass playing and some proficient two handed tapping. El Ten Eleven has 2 releases that I will have to investigate "El Ten Eleven" from 2005 and "Every Direction Is North". I wonder if El Ten Eleven took off what would become of the Softlightes?

Porterville from Los Angeles were next with their synth sprinkled indie dance rock. It reminded me of a Ghostland Observatory crossed with the Rapture and a dash of Weezer. When they played their song "The Preafterlife", a section of the crowd started to bust out their dance moves. I wonder if they really are from Porterville, California?

The Softlightes swayed the crowd with their sugar coated songs and sweet dynamics. Ron Fountenberry (Vocals/Guitars) was wistfully strumming his lefty Epiphone Hollowbody to coax out their tender songs. Jeff Hibshman (Keyboards) had his drool worthy Korg Oasys keyboard setup and was employing some split layers to add extra dimensions to their tightly spun songs. "Heart Made Of Sound" is a great example of their solid songwriting skills. "The Robots In My Bedroom Were Playing Arena Rock" maybe a wink at Daft Punk but I think more songs should heavily employ the vocoder. Tim Fogarty (Drums) and Kristian Dunn (Bass) locked in for "GirlKillsBear" which sounds even better live. The Softlightes even managed to bribe the audience with cookies. The cookies were holiday spice if I remember correctly. When is the last time you received cookies from a band?

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