WILLOUGHBY and JUNIOR HIGH
01 JUNE, 2012
Hospitality played their first headlining gig in Los Angeles at the Satellite, (formerly Spaceland), and captivated a standing room only crowd. The big question going in was: How would it translate live? And the answer was: Just fine, thank you. The background being: Their debut LP, released in January on Merge Records is one of the sleeper records of the year, packed with great songs, and a wonderful production that balances a surprising array of things in the mix, and does the job of enhancing the wistfulness of the songs. It's a huge step forward from their demos, and I was curious to see how it worked out on the stage.
It turns out the tightness from touring shed the production gloss to reveal the muscles underneath. The songs churned with a restless energy, and grew in performance. Amber Papini was stage center, directing the action with sideways looks. The mix was perfect for her vocals, giving them shelter without drowning the lyrics. Her voice is a quirky vessel, but perfect for conveying the ruminations of the lyrics.
They have a clutch of smart, catchy songs in their bag, and they basically threw the bag at the audience, giving them the album, plus a new song called "The Drift" for good measure. High point of the set was a sublime reading of "Sleepover", (seen below).
"Friends Of Friends" got the most audience response, which makes sense since the charming video has served as the band's calling card. "Betty Wang" got a nice, fevered workout and got the crowd moving later in the set.
For an encore, the very first cover they've learned as a band, an interesting take on Steely Dan's 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number'. Given a Motorik underpinning, the song fit the band perfectly. It was put together for The Onion's 'AV Club', and has since assumed place of pride as set closer.
Opening the show was Junior High, an energetic trio that ground out angular, observational, and sometimes danceable numbers, powered by an absolute beast of a drummer. "Life Coach" was the highlight of the set.
Willoughby held down the middle slot, sprawling indie rock in the vein of Races or Other Lives. They were joined by none other than Priscilla Ahn for a handful of songs. Lots of promise in this tightly-knit group, one to keep an eye on, for sure.