Monday, July 05, 2010

A Place To Bury Strangers at Spaceland

As a devoted fuzz and pedal fanatic, A Place To Bury Strangers immediately catapulted into my realm of favorite bands when I saw them in December of 2007 at the Viper Room. Needless to say, my schedule was cleared once A Place To Bury Strangers announced their show at Spaceland.

Useless Keys

My busy concert schedule has prevented me from catching a lot of the local up and coming bands that have been popping up on my radar. Useless Keys have long been on my list to check out and they did not disappoint. Their impressive EP, Is The Painting Changing shows a number of facets of their musical potential.

Michael Bauer (Guitars/Vocals) aggressively attacked his left handed Fender Stratocaster unleashing squeals of fuzz from his Big Muff distortion pedal. Rounding out their sound is Michael Regilio on his Gibson SG guitar, Rory Modica on drums and Guylaine Vivarat on bass. Some of the highlights of their set were "Down Threw", "Seabells" and the fiery closer "White Noise". I will be looking for their full length album when it comes out.

Light Pollution

After the fuzz storm of Useless Keys, the ambient textured synthesizer songs of Light Pollution struggled to grasp the Spaceland audience. If Light Pollution had opened prior to Useless Keys, the dynamics of their sound might have came across better. They did have their supporters as I ran into Martin Klingman of Gliss who came out to check out their set.

Lead singer James Cicero alternated between his guitar and a Korg MS2000b while unveiling tracks from their upcoming album Apparitions which is to be released on Carpark records. Even though the crowd was growing restless, Light Pollution quickly worked through their set. I would need to check them out again to form a better opinion.

A Place To Bury Strangers

Touring in support of their excellent album, Exploding Head and recently released EP I Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart, A Place To Bury Strangers wrapped up their West Coast tour at Spaceland. When I caught APTBS at the El Rey, they had a new line up that included Dion Lunadon on bass. While I thought it would be difficult to replace Jonathan Smith's propulsive Gibson Thunderbird bass playing, Lunadon has found his place with a fierce attacking style via his Fender Mustang bass.

Minimal stage lighting and fog soon filled Spaceland disorienting your senses. While I wasn't feeling that well on this particular night, the torrent of noise that was unleashed magically improved my mood. "In Your Heart" was the equivalent of going from 0-60mph instantaneously with its bombardment of sound. The unrelenting drumming of Jay Weilmeister was impressive as his hands were a blur for "I Know I'll See You" which is performed much faster compared to the recorded version.

It was surprising to hear "Girlfriend" from their newly released EP and its sound aesthetic could have easily found a home on Exploding Head. The buzzsaw attack of "Ego Death" was pulverizing as Lunadon crushed the bass riff in between the blasts of noise from Ackermann who triggered the white noise on a modified wah pedal. A see saw guitar riff backed by a buzzy bass line fortified the structure of a new song "Leaving Tomorrow" which made me wish my camera had video.

"Exploding Head" was phenomenal watching Ackermann strum his Fender Jaguar while using the tremolo arm to give the song a watery feel. A severe amount of disorienting tremolo guitars kicked everyone's face in during "To Fix The Gash In Your Head". Ackermann crafted a miniature symphony of feedback as the intro to "Deadbeat" which transitions into a '60s spy movie car chase theme.

Once the seizure inducing strobe lights were triggered,everyone knew that it was time for their epic closer of "Ocean". The band went crazy destroying the stage as Lunadon hammered his bass onto some poor pedals on the ground while Ackermann punctured the bass drum with the headstock of his guitar. It was terrifying and exhilarating being so close to the destruction at the front of the stage. When lights turned back on, the band members had disappeared and a barrage of broken gear occupied a stage. Easily one of the top shows of the year.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Henry Clay People at Fingerprints Records

The Henry Clay People have long established themselves as darlings of Los Angeles music scene with their tireless gigging. I can't think of a local venue the band hasn't played in the last two years. While most bands stick to the immediate Silverlake locales, The Henry Clay People did a residency down in Costa Mesa at the Detroit Bar to geographically widen their fanbase.

I first caught Henry Clay People at the tiny Prospector in Long Beach in February 2008 and knew big things were in store for the band. Some of the various puzzle pieces that came together include being managed by C3, scoring a deal with TBD records, and support from Aquarium Drunkard who released their full length album For Cheap or For Free on Autumn Tone records.

Things continue to shine brighter for the Henry Clay People as they are in the midst of a national tour supporting Silversun Pickups. Prior to their departure, the Henry Clay People celebrated with a packed record release party at Spaceland and treating the folks at Fingerprints Records for a free performance in support of their latest album Somewhere On The Golden Coast.

The stage at Fingerprints couldn't contain all the members of the Henry Clay People as Jordan Hudock had his keyboard stationed to the side of the stage while drummer Eric Scott was obscured behind bassist Jonathan Price. Henry Clay People shows are renowned for being fueled by lots of energy, volume and topped with a shot of whiskey.

Andy Siara displayed his slide guitar skills for the woozy "Slow Burn" while his brother Joey Siara jangled away on his Rickenbacker guitar. "End of An Empire" is a straight ahead rock song highlighted with its frantic piano notes. Taking requests from the crowd for cover songs, "Can't Hardly Wait" by the Replacements and "Knowledge" by Operation Ivy were easily tackled by the band. Henry Clay People will be back in Los Angeles at the Greek Theater on 8/6 so make sure you show up early and sneak in your metal flask.