Monday, June 30, 2008
Lightspeed Champion at the Glass House
I was devastated when the Test Icicles cancelled their US tour and subsequently broke up soon after. Their album For Screening Purposes was a cross between Franz Ferdinand and Slayer with equal parts thrash and dance rock. Devonte "Dev" Hynes would later resurface with his toned down project Lightspeed Champion. Dev and company closed out their U.S. tour at the Glass House in Pomona on a scorching day.
The Explorers Club
The South Carolina troupe known as The Explorers Club were seven people strong on stage as they unfurled their sunny batch of '60s inspired pop. The inevitable comparisons to the Beach Boys immediately came to mind. I did detect a little bit of Supertramp during their title track "Freedom Wind". A variety of instrumentation hit the stage as they used a mandolin, lap steel guitar and two keyboardists. They used a Nord Electro, Roland XP 50 and a Yamaha keyboard to dial in the variety of organ and mellotron patches to accentuate their sixties influenced sound. The Explorers Club stacked vocal harmonies to the top of the Glass House as they played a number of tunes from their album Freedom Wind. They ended their set with a scorching cover version of "Johnny B Goode" and a backflip off the drum riser from Dave. It was a good way to start the show.
Flowers Forever is the project of Tilly and the Wall member Derek Pressnall (Guitars/Vocals). Derek requested that the house lights be turned off as some spooky cardboard cut outs of demonic heads remained illuminated for the rest of their set. Flowers Forever proceeded to romp and bash through a set of evil surf tinged tunes. Derek was relentlessly bashing on his Fender Stratocaster as rapid bursts of strobe lights was flash to add to the dark atmosphere of their set. Flowers Forever have a self titled release that came out in February of this year and most songs are barely over three minute mark. Some of the tracks I enjoyed included "Wet Diamonds" and "Black Rosary". The songs seem to have been written in a stream of consciousness. It was extremely hot in the Glass House but it did not deter the energy put out by Derek and his bandmates. Derek is currently going back on tour with Tilly and The Wall.
Dev Hynes came out in his trademark fuzzy cap and started to sing the opening lines of "Galaxies of The Lost". The thrash guitars and screaming vocals of Test Icicles are now replaced with swooning violins, lazy acoustic guitars and floating keyboards. Falling Off The Lavender Bridge is Lightspeed Champion's debut album that showcases Dev's ability to write concise power pop songs. Mike Siddell (Violin) provided the lush violin parts throughout the night while also helping out on occasion with bass and guitar duties. Anna Prior (Drums) flawlessly handled the drums and provided the backing vocals that were originally recorded by Emmy the Great. The multitude of instrumentation on "Dry Lips" was difficult to recreate live but the essence was prevalent. Dev's energy on stage in infectious as he traded between his electric guitar and his Yamaha acoustic guitar affixed with a Star Wars logo.
"Everyone I Know Is Listening To Crunk" was charmingly funny due to the lyrical content and propulsive acoustic riff. Dev went behind a Nord Electro to play the keys for "No Surprise(For Wendela)". The show paused momentarily as someone from the crowd stated they loved his blog. Dev thanked the patron but mentioned his blog was a bit sketchy. Dev showed off his love for Weezer as he expertly covered "Susanne" which was originally on the Mallrats soundtrack. Dev upped the ante when he did an ultra rock rendition of the "Imperial March Theme" that bled into the "Star Wars Theme". "Midnight Surprise" closed out the night demonstrating that Dev could sing as well as play guitar.