Lots of shows in recent days. The Milk Carton Kids recently took the stage at Amoeba Hollywood, giving fans a healthy dose of their acoustic, Simon & Garfunkel-influenced story-folk. Though still relatively unknown, the band has cultivated a healthy following for the Eagle Rock-based duo, garnering fans of like-minded L.A. venues Largo and Hotel Cafe. Their soft, mellowed-out sound contrasts with their comedic, center-stage personalities, inviting you to come sit by their campfire and hear them spin a yarn and sing a tune. Milk Carton Kid Joey Ryan regaled the audience with the history of the ampersand, much to the delight of a few fawning girls in the front, proving that a cute guy with a guitar can literally discuss typographical history and young girls will swoon. They sang the countryish “Honey Honey,” with Kenneth Pattengale really going to town on his miniature acoustic guitar, with the top of it wrapped in a cloth napkin for maximum intimacy. Ryan bragged about his quick fingerpicking and delivered it with finesse on a bluegrass-colored song. He said the band grew up shopping for records at Amoeba, and it was now “quite an honor” to be playing at the store. Pattengale mocked Ryan’s consistently deadpan tone, saying, “Guys, I’m so f*ckin’ thrilled.” “That’s not a good impression,” Ryan quipped back. They sang a few morose tunes to close the set, joking that everyone thinks they’re from Michigan because of their melancholy folk sound. They’ll be at the Largo Theater May 8 and 9. See more picture of their performance here.
April 4 I DJed at a hopefully monthly series at Los Globos featuring indie rock bands mostly of the surf and garage variety, alongside live painting and art. The set began with Arms That Work, an L.A. band recalling early ’00s math-rock in inspiration. Their set made me miss the likes of Built to Spill and their ilk, drawing from influences that I haven’t heard in some time and could stand to hear more of. Craters pulled from the Nuggets bin for a convincing update of ’60s garage rock. Cutty Flam, a charming band of self-described “prom punk from suburbia” featured rockabilly guitars, ramshackle vocals and irrepressible energy. Drummer Bang Bangs sang cooing backup from behind a sequined kit while bassist Chewy Lewy and frontman Cutty Flam (pretty sure there are all their real names) spun out off-kilter yet approachable ’50s rock on songs like the acoustic call-and-response jam “Do You Wanna?” Wax Children took the garage rock theme of the night and blew it up into a more spacious sound, full of reverby melodies and noise-rock bursts. They managed to be both chaotic and catchy, espousing a measured balance of both qualities. Dirt Dress came on late but with no less energy than usual. For the uninitiated, their scuffed up sound, garage rock with notable influence from beyond that realm, with the sort of chanted vocals The Modern Lovers and Talking Heads employed so famously, is one of the best things musically happening in L.A. Check them out the next time they play, if you haven’t done so yet.
Last night I checked out another multiband event, Summer Fun Time Society’s (SFTS) Femme Soup, an event to benefit that event production team at the very cool NOMAD art space in Frog Town featuring all-female or female-fronted bands. Amoeba, L.A. Record, Dum Dum Zine and more were on hand, while the space featured art as well as music on two stages, one outdoor and one inside. I arrived for the all-girl BON BON, featuring musicians Melody Carrillo on bass and vocals, who’s played with So Many Wizards; Drew Denny on keys and vocals, who’s played with Big Whup; and all-around badass drummer Christina Gaillard on drums and backup vocals, who’s played with So Many Wizards project Crown Plaza, among others. BON BON’s set of cavewoman rock began with Carrillo and Denny exploding confetti eggs over a drumming Gaillard and chanting before taking to their instruments. Denny took off her shoes to bounce around to the trio’s B-52’s-esque buoyant blast. Her bubbly stage presence and breathy voice contrasted nicely with Carrillo’s deeper voice and post-punk basslines. Gaillard kept things moving along nicely with hard-hit beats, beginning one memorable number singing lead with sudden softness. Denny and Carrillo screamed about money before one of their more upbeat tunes, while Denny took to the keys and lead for the band’s ballad, during which she cajoled the audience to touch each other. Spaceships, featuring singer/guitarist Jesse Waite and Amoeba’s Kevin LaRose on drums, started playing late when the band was already a few sheets to the wind, which led to a raucous set in which the band made fun of their own inebriated state and played hard and fast to a pogoing audience.
Waite played like a punk J. Mascis and sang like a young, sneering Karen O while LaRose backed her up with primordial beats on songs like melodic winner “Into the Sun.” I caught a bit of Omniflux, led by Mahsa Zargaran, who played dark, electronically based music with sultry vocals in front of a roaring bonfire, adding even more of a feeling of mysticism to the set. On first blush it reminded me a bit of my beloved Blonde Redhead, though on inspection after listening to her great music it’s quite harder to pin down; fans of Bat for Lashes and Portishead will find a lot to like.