A few weeks back, i went to LA for a long weekend.
While there i went to Club
Violaine, which is a night for shoegazers and dreampop fans
that is held every month. Dammit, why don't we have anything
this cool in Atlanta? It was a truly great experience, standing
in a club with the DJs spinning The Chameleons and Cocteau Twins,
and live bands in the genre as well! Wow. Very cool. If you
are in LA, you should check it out...
Club Violane is held in an art gallery/performance space called
in the La Brea area of town. I guess that means there are tar
pits around there somewhere, but i didn't see them..... Anyway,
Basswerks is sort of the LA equivalent of Atlanta's Eyedrum,
although there wasn't a whole lot of art there on the night
i went. A few odd sculptures in the "weld a bunch of stuff together"
sense of sculpture, which were moderately interesting, but not
that exciting. Oh well. I guess they sometimes have more art,
just not tonight. No big loss, as there was plenty to do otherwise.
Aside from a DJ in the front room spinning shoegaze classics,
there were three bands in the back room.
The first of these was Lisa Dewey and the Lotus Life, who came all the way down from the San Francisco Bay area. Unfortunately, not all of the band made the trip -- the drummer was unable to show up for some reason, so they performed as a three-piece. And they did so as an acoustic three-piece, instead of their normal heavily echoed electric selves. I have to admit this was somewhat disappointing to me. Even though Ms. Dewey does have a lovely voice, and both she and her guitarist know their way around a fretboard, their type of music just doesn't translate all that well to an acoustic format. Without pedals and distortion, they sounded like a generic Decatur folky act. They weren't bad, but they weren't that great either. I would like to see the full band rock out....
Keith St. Thomas, Lisa Dewey, Paul Zimmerman,
collectively: Lisa Deway and 2/3 Lotus Life.
Up next were Club Violane regulars Red Lily. Doomie, the guitarist
in the band, is also the head of Club Violane. I guess that
means the band plays here a lot, which is actually kind of cool
since i thoroughly enjoyed Red Lily's set. They are a five piece
band, featuring a drummer, a bassist, two guitarists, and a
guitarist/vocalist. Yes, that's three guitars, all played through
a ton of effects pedals. They make a rich wall of guitar haze,
anchored firmly by the solid rhythm section. In that sense,
they reminded me of Mira.
(Whatever happened to them? Did the band get eaten by one of
the hurricanes that attacked their home state of Florida?) And
by reminding me of Mira, i
mean that the guitars are loud and noisy and hazy, with a slight
hint of goth flavoring the shoegaze-ness. The vocalist is a
petite asian woman, which gives the band a vaguely Alison's
Halo sound. Oh, and the effects favored by the guitarists
are Chorus and Delay, which gives their guitars a hint of a
Cocteau Twins flavor.
Just a hint really, there at the edges of your listening.
Red Lily: The vocalist (with the sparkly guitar)
and Doomie with "the hair".
The rest of Red Lily.
Now, if you have read this site for any length
of time you would know that a band combining the sounds or Mira,
and Cocteau Twins
is going to entrance me. And indeed Red Lily did thoroughly
entrance me. They played and i stood there, grinning like a
fool and bathing myself in their guitar haze. Simply lovely.
If you like shoegaze, then you need to check out this band's
live show. I am not sure if they play outside of LA, but anyone
in So Cal. should make the trip to see them. You won't regret
And then just after midnight, the headliner took the stage:
I must really love Bethany
Curve, since i traveled all the way across the country to
see them! Well, actually, they were not the main reason for
my vacation in Los Angeles, but getting to see them live was
a big added bonus. Bethany
Curve are your standard four-piece rock band. Except that
the guitarists have three red Rickenbockers between them, and
the bassist plays a five-string bass. Oh, and the stage floor
is practically covered with effects pedals.
One half of the pedals used by the lead guitarist
of Bethany Curve.
They walked on stage and started building a dense layer of
guitar haze. Eventually soft jazzy drumming joined in, followed
by amazingly nice deep basswork. They must have had the bass
cranked way up in the venue, and it really worked well for Bethany
Curve. That bassist is amazing.... Then, overtop of it all,
was the voice. Not that noticeable, but still there.
Shoegazers at work: Richard Millang (vocals,
guitar) and their bassist, whose name is not listed on the Bethany
Curve website, and which i have totally forgotten after
talking with him that night. Sorry.
And, the guitar haze they played, well, it was transcendent.
That is all i can say about it. Words fail me in trying to describe
it. So many sonic textures in layer upon layer. It was wonderful
to behold, and watching the band i got a real feeling for how
difficult it is to maintain that sort of sound. In one song,
which lasted 8 minutes, i counted the lead guitarist making
15 pedal stomps. That's a little under one pedal every 30 seconds!
No wonder the genre is called "shoegaze"....
Nathan Guevara, hard at work playing guitar
and dancing on pedals.
Anyway, i have been listening to, and thoroughly enjoying, this band for years, so i had a lot of expectations going into their set.
And they exceeded every one of them. Live, they are exactly what i hoped they
would be, based on repeated listens to their albums. Actually,
they are more than that. They are better live than on record,
and that is really saying something. My advice to you: keep
an eye out for Bethany
Curve to play somewhere near you, then drop everything and
go see them. You won't regret it.
Okay, i'll stop gushing now. But, really, this was one of the best shows i have seen in a long time. Granted, the acts were all playing the type of music i adore, but the fact that it was so well done really impressed me.
Overall, a great night. In Los Angeles too!