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Show Recap: Veruca Salt at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, July 17, 2015 05:48pm | Post a Comment

veruca salt amoeba hollywood july 13 2015

Nina Gordon and Louise Post of reunited alt-rockers Veruca Salt walked onstage at Amoeba Hollywood July 13 with smiles miles wide. The band had just released its first album with the original lineup in 18 years, the well-received Ghost Notes, after reconciling two years ago following a bitter falling out in the ’90s. Given their ability to overcome such a storied history and long hiatus, the positivity flowing from the two singer/guitarists was palpable. 

Gordon and Post held up their “set plates” (“There was no paper backstage, but there were plates,” Gordon explained) and began with the first song on Ghost Notes, “The Gospel According to Saint Me.” They looked at each other and smiled while harmonizing to the song’s autobiographical lyrics about the band’s breakup and reunion. Gordon’s lyrics about how “it’s gonna get loud, it’s gonna get heavy” may have felt ironic for an acoustic set, but they rang out to an appreciative audience of devotees who may have picked up on a small teaser to the American Thighs song “Victrola.”

veruca salt ghost notes cdThe singers’ chemistry and tension was as fascinating to watch as their performances. At one point, Post asked for less Gordon in her monitor. “I love you, but it’s just too much,” she said, but later admitted, “I miss you,” as though summing up their history.

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Show Recap: Failure at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, July 1, 2015 03:04pm | Post a Comment

failure amoeba

Failure fans withstood a hot, humid tropical drizzle outside of Amoeba Hollywood June 30 for the chance to see the band perform after a 17-year absence.

The alt-rock band reunited last year after breaking up in 1997 due to personal differences. In that time, Failure maintained a sizable cult, due in part to the band members maintaining a visible presence in musical projects such as Autolux, ON and Year of the Rabbit. With their “classic lineup” of Greg Edwards, Ken Andrews and Kellii Scott together again, the band has been successfully touring, playing all over the U.S. and Europe, and at festivals such as Desert Daze and Sunset Strip Music Festival.

failure the heart is a monster lpThe band chose to focus half of its set on its newly released fourth album, The Heart Is a Monster, which has been well-received by both fans and outlets such as Pitchfork. They started the show with that album’s opener, “Hot Traveler,” a highlight as the song moved from muscular riffs to a dreamier closing. The Amoeba show featured the live debut of two new songs from the album, “A.M. Amnesia” and “Otherwhere,” sneaking in classic “Another Space Song” from 1996’s Fantastic Planet in between.

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Show Recap: Tanlines at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, May 20, 2015 05:18pm | Post a Comment

tanlines amoeba hollywood

Tanlines have always stood out among the crowded field of electro-pop bands. Their 2012 debut, Mixed Emotions, was clever without being pretentious, cute without being cloying, and hooky as hell to the point that we'd go see them play live years after the fact and without a new album.

tanlines highlights lpNow, with a sturdy new album finally under their belts, the reliably fine live band came out to Amoeba Hollywood May 19 to play a set from the just-released Highlights. The duo (live, a quartet) launched into their first-ever Amoeba set with countryish ballad “Invisible Ways,” a bold choice since it’s one example of how Highlights hops genres and strays from the electro-pop mold, but it’s also one of the album's best songs and a chance for singer Eric Emm to do his best Bryan Ferry over jangling chords.

“We’re not used to seeing this many CDs in the audience,” bassist/keyboardist/percussionist Jesse Cohen said before diving into the surf-rocky new wave of “Slipping Away.” “I love that song!” he said as they tended to their sound and intro’d Mixed Emotions’ “Brothers,” awash with synth and ratcheting forward on live electronic drums. The moody “Bad Situations” followed, again nicely featuring live electronic drums and Emm’s breaking croon.

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Show Recap: Death Cab For Cutie at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, April 1, 2015 04:02pm | Post a Comment

death cab for cutieDeath Cab For Cutie closed down the store at Amoeba Hollywood March 31 on the day of the release of their new album, Kintsugi.

Just before the band starts its tour in support of the album—and now without longtime guitarist and producer Chris Walla—the band could’ve been unsure of its footing. But they pretty much crushed it, starting with the album’s thumping opener “No Room in Frame.” “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive” saw the band pick up the energy while still employing moody guitarwork and ghostly effects to good measure.

death cab for cutie kintsugi lpBen Gibbard paused a moment to introduce new band members Dave Depper and Zac Rae (both on keys and guitars) before launching into the three-guitar “Little Wanderer.” It’s easy to forget what a great guitar band Death Cab can be, and honestly, the guitars threatened to overtake Gibbard’s star power on that song. But the song’s catchy chorus brings it all back, and Gibbard still stood center-stage on  “Black Sun,” shaking his head through the song’s biting lyrics amid dusty organ and languid guitarwork.

Death Cab at times could be thought of as more of a solid and enjoyable band than a dynamic one, but they’ve seemingly sought to incorporate more variety to their introverted indie-pop on recent releases as their audience has grown, and live, their skill at juggling different sounds is even more pronounced. On the cowboyish “El Dorado,” Gibbard’s voice rang clearly over a sturdy gallop and wallowing guitars, while “Everything’s a Ceiling” is closer to an ’80s prom ballad and had the crowd clapping along to its stuttering beat and glowing synths.

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Deerhoof Unveil Crazy 'Paradise Girls' Video, Kick Ass at the Troubadour

Posted by Billy Gil, November 18, 2014 11:25am | Post a Comment

deerhoof troubadourDeerhoof played a typically destructive set at the Troubadour in West Hollywood last night, starting off with tracks from their excellent new album, La Isla Bonita. Satomi Matsuzaki irrepressibly chanted to the cute “Paradise Girls” (“Girls…who play the bass guitar!”) and skronky “Last Fad” (“Baseball is cancelled!”) while John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez braided sneaky guitar lines around her. “Exit Only” sounded a lot fiercer live, while drummer/madman Greg Saunier traded instruments with Matsuzaki for La Isla Bonita’s pulsating, chaotic closer, “Oh Bummer.” A well-selected sprinkling of older material meshed well with the newer stuff, from the crashing “Dummy Discards a Heart” (from Apple O’) to the thumping “Twin Killers” (from The Runners Four) and riff-stuffed “Fresh Born” (from Offend Maggie). Saunier’s drumming remains a barely contained tornado to which the rest of the band somehow hangs on; the band stays tight even when he flies off the rails, making everything exciting, unpredictable and yet always masterful. Matsuzaki let loose for insane closer “Come See the Duck” (from the Green Cosmos EP), goading the audience into an off-beat call-and-response of “Come! Come! Come see the duck!” and teasing us when we got it wrong. Who can guess how 12 albums and 20 years in, Deerhoof are as energetic and thrilling to experience as ever. If you’re in S.F., they’re at the American Music Hall tonight with Crystal Skulls and Go Dark. Don’t miss it.

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