Diamond Rings aka John O'Regan started his set at Amoeba Hollywood Oct. 18 with "Runaway Love," the heaviest song on his new album, Free Dimensional. The song sounded especially full and rocking live, backed by a band of Beastie Boy lookalikes. He dropped the butch guitar for some adorably goofy dance moves and rapping and on "Hand Over My Heart," giving him the chance to indulge his inner Chaka Khan. O'Regan's voice got deep for defiant single "I'm Just Me," which splits the difference between Diamond Rings' rock and Eurodisco leanings, though it definitely was heavier live. "A to Z" was one of the best-sounding songs of the set, with O'Regan's guitar cutting through like an Edge solo, while his vocals came through loosely and clearly. He played his previous hit "All Yr Songs," from his previous album, Special Affections, introducing it as one of the first songs he ever wrote. This kid in the front headbanged to the entire song, it was very cute. O'Regan closed the set with the hip-hoppy "Day & Night," which was a lot more fun live than on record, as some of O'Regan's eccentricities — his rapping, for one — translate better live. The set had the effect of punching up the songs from Free Dimensional and making O'Regan seem like the kind of artist who will take chances and do what he wants, while his attention to detail, from his band's glammy hip-hop look to his songs' nuanced electronic effects, ensure he'll entertain any audience while following his muse. See more photos of the show here!
Chelsea Wolfe released my favorite album of late with Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs. True to its name, it’s a spare set of darkly beautiful tunes with little more than Wolfe’s voice, acoustic guitar and strings, offering a sound that’s at once hollow and spilling over with emotion. Wolfe spoke with me a bit about her latest album before her performance at Amoeba Hollywood Sunday Oct. 21 at 5 p.m.
PST: Why give the album a subtitle like “A Collection of Acoustic Songs”? Did you want to be honest about what to expect from the album, and did you worry that that would set up assumption about what the album would sound like?
Wolfe: I added that because the songs span a period of years; some were written five years ago, and some I wrote very recently for the album. I had planned on releasing a collection of recordings from the past, orphaned songs that I never released on an album, but I found myself writing new acoustic songs, so I decided to do new recordings of the older songs as well and approached them in a new way. I chose the songs I felt would live well together in this home of an album.
PST: I should say I think it’s your best album yet! Was part of the reason in stripping down the music to allow the quality of the songwriting and performances to come through clearly?
Wolfe: Thank you. I don't think about things like that, to be honest. I wanted to get back to my roots a little bit maybe. I love rock ’n’ roll, but I also have this folk side to me, to my music, and it was really a good time getting back into it. I look forward to touring with these songs, it will be a very different energy than how I've been playing the past couple of years.
It was hard to believe I was watching Patti Smith live at Amoeba today. She seems like the kind of artist who doesn't exist in real life, yet here she was sounding every bit as amazing as on her landmark first album, Horses, while launching into suicide story "Redondo Beach" at the beginning of her set. She danced and smiled her way through "April Fool," the gleeful first single from Banga, her excellent most recent album, released earlier this year. "You're so quiet ... it must be the hallowed ground of the record store," she teased the audience before launching into "Fuju-san." She introduced Banga's "This is the Girl" as being about Amy Winehouse, adding a darker shade to a beautifully rendered song about the girl "who yearned to be heard."
While her bandmates played acoustically, you could really hear Smith and how gracefully her voice has matured, sounding natural and unstrained on the newer material and projecting the wisdom of years onto her classics. She strapped on a guitar for a snarly rendition of "Banga" — but not before asking why AMC dropped The Killing. "I'll be back at 2 in the morning, we'll talk about really serious stuff," she quipped on the night of the Vice Presidential debate.
On Oct. 31 Amoeba Hollywood will begin its Halloween celebration at 2 p.m. with DJs, a dog costume contest and more.
From 2-4 p.m, Amoeba DJs DJ Fang Face and DJ Lew Siffer will spin cool scary tunes. And starting at 4 p.m., Amoeba will hold its 2nd Annual Dog Costume Contest. Bring your dog in costume and you can win a grand prize gift basket of dog-friendly treats from Catts & Doggs. Or just come and watch, if you can handle the unbearable amounts of cute. Just look at the photos from last year’s contest. Bat dog! Ramones dog! Can’t handle it.
Amoeba will also have candy on hand. The store will be closing on 7 p.m. that day, so come in early.
On Saturday, October 6 we held our monthly charity auction hosted by comedian Ryan Stout who did a fabulous job of inspiring and cajoling the audience into some great bids, all while making people laugh out loud. This month's auction benefited Beagle Freedom Project, an organization that rescues beagles used in animal experimentation in research laboratories. We also held a dog adoption event on Sunday, October 7 with Beagle Freedom Project and some pretty adorable dogs.
But back to the auction. Mr. Stout was quick, clever, personable and hard to resist.
"C'mon...It's for the dogs! Everyone cares about dogs. BEAGLES for chrissakes - AMERICA'S DOG! "
The bids started with a green tag DVD Season 2 of Flight of the Conchords (with poster) at $5.00 and then we were off and running.
Here are the rest of the highlights:
- Herbie Hancock signed vinyl LP - $15.00
- Flying Lotus tickets - $30.00
- The XX tickets - $80.00 (!!)
- Record Store Day grab bag - $115.00 (!!!!)
- Trader Joe's gift card and lunchbox - $60.00
- SBTRKT tickets - $60.00 (!!)
- Darkness tickets - $25.00
- P.I.L. tickets - $30.00
- Bob Mould tickets - $30.00
- Doctor Who Blu-ray - $10.00
- Amoeba VIP in-store pass - $60.00
- Social Distortion tickets - $60.00
- Portlandia DVD signed by Fred Armisen (with Wallflowers tickets) - $45.00
All together Mr. Stout garnered $625.00 in bids which, with our matching, means we raised $1250.00 for the Beagle Freedom Project! It can be very challenging to get folks to bid big money on random things in a 30 minute window. You never know if that Social D fan will be in the house, or if that crazy Doctor Who fan will be nearby, but Ryan was able to get folks to bid and this month's auction was a great success!