Friday, March 30, 2012

Crosses at the Satellite

Back in January, I was fortunate enough to catch the debut of Crosses at the Glass House. Crosses is a collaboration between Chino Moreno of the Deftones, Shaun Lopez of Far and Chuck Doom. They have released two EPs of material that incorporate dark synthesizers, haunting guitar melodies and sinewy bass grooves. The Satellite was a packed house for their warm up show prior to their dates out in Chile for Lollapalooza. crosses_satellite_ACY0074

After shooting White Rabbits at the El Rey Theater, I barely squeezed into the Satellite as the opening chords of "†hholyghs†" started to reverberate inside the club. The slow build up of the song which melts into a huge chorus with ringing power chords makes it one of my favorite songs and starts off the set with a sharp intensity.

While Crosses receives a lot of attention due to Moreno being in the band, it is hard to discount the other members of the band. Chuck Doom is fantastic on the bass hammering out the blistering notes of "†his Is A †rick". The crowd was going crazy the whole time reaching over the stage to touch Chino or holding up their phones to record the proceedings.

The slow tempo of "Bermuda Locke†" was hypnotic with its interjected synthesizer swells and pulsating drums floating beneath Moreno's vocals. Shaun Lopez was a busy man for "Fron†ier" working behind his laptop, lap steel guitar, keyboards and guitars adding different shades of sound to the dense mix.

Chuck Doom once again shined on the bass during "†Elepa†hy" that had everyone's head bobbing along to the twisted beat. "Prurien†" was a slick mix of electronic drums meshing with catchy samples. Synthesizers and quiet guitar harmonics dominated during "1987" as the dueling drummers of Crosses found a moment to catch their breath.

"Op†ion" builds slowly with chugging metallic guitars before exploding into a dreamy chorus. Crosses have a solid grasp of song dynamics and each song is well sculpted. Crosses definitely seemed more rehearsed and stronger live compared to their debut show. Showing their appreciation for '80s synthesizer music, they deftly covered "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazzarus.

Crosses closed out the show with "The Years" which is featured on the Batman: Arkham City Soundtrack. It was a fitting closer as Moreno would wave to the crowd while singing the lyrics "as the years go bye". The folks in Chile better be prepared for a set of explosive performances by Crosses. I hope they tour again soon.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Kooks at the Fox Theater in Pomona

The Kooks have long held my attention since their debut at Spaceland back in 2006. Six years later, The Kooks are touring behind their third album Junk of the Heart and selling out much larger venues playing to more fanatical fans. A tremendous line of patrons snaked around the Fox Theater in Pomona eager to secure a spot on the rail.

A row of risers dominated the front of the stage as a deafening roar of female screams cascaded around the theater upon the dimming of the lights. Stuttering drums careened into the pattern of "Is It Me?" as lead singer Luke Pritchard energetically engaged the crowd by jumping onto the risers. "Always Where I Need To Be" had the crowd bouncing and singing along kicking things into a higher gear.

Hugh Harris peeled off the sizzling guitar riff for "Down To The Market" flawlessly and I was impressed with his overdriven guitar tones. Switching to acoustic guitars, "Rosie" was propulsive with its cyclical guitar riff. Older songs had a large impact on the audience as the sing along for "She Moves In Her Own Way" was massive. The Kooks seemed to have tweaked some of the songs for live purposes as "Sway" was as electric as a downed power line.

"Runaway" had an undulating electronic beat beneath the two pronged acoustic guitar attack as Harris would later tweak his guitar pedals for some squeals of feedback. Slashing guitars mimicked lightning strikes for "Stormy Weather" as Peter Denton rumbled away on his Fender bass. Another live modification was the increased tempo of "If Only" as it seemed that Pritchard was almost rapping the lyrics.

Pritchard would display his acoustic guitar skills for "Seaside" as he performed the song by himself on top of the risers. Harris would momentarily set aside his guitar for a turn on the piano for "How'd You Like That". A snappy bass line and the plinking piano melody of "Mr. Nice Guy" reminded me of something The Smiths would have performed.

Floating notes from a mellotron were keyed by Harris for "Shine On" as the crowd still sang along at a high volume. "Do You Wanna" closed out the main set as the cheers for the encore never wavered. "Junk of The Heart" and "Naive" brought the proverbial house down as the Kooks have grown by leaps and bounds since their first stateside tour stop at Spaceland nearly six years ago. Surprised Coachella didn't add them to the bill.

Milo Greene
In the support department, Yawn hailing from Chicago entertained the crowd with a hybrid Animal Collective, Yeasayer, and Vampire Weekend kaleidoscopic electronics.  After a well received residency at the Satellite, Milo Greene easily won over the crowd with an energizing performance with multiple members taking a turn on vocals and switching instruments to keep their music fresh.