Thursday, June 11, 2015

Saturday Night's Alright: Slutever live

06 JUNE, 2015
A foreboding neighborhood can't hide a welcoming place. Off 4th St in downtown LA, behind a red steel door and up the steps lies the performance space known as the HiFi Deli. The old upstairs space was warm and welcoming, with both a bar and a green room, and a quick pop up to the smoking area on the roof revealed an enviable skyline view. With almost a year passed since the last time we caught up with Slutever, it seemed an opportune time. Fresh off of dates opening up for Speedy Ortiz and Chastity Belt, LA duo Slutever were up for it, kicking off a full night's bill, presented by Swiss Family Robinson, with a blazing set that leaned heavily on their latest, the self-released cassette Almost Famous. Jumping straight into its opener "Smother", the band never looked back, starting with Nicole Snyder on guitar and Rachel Gagliardi on drums. Dropping into last year's single "White Flag", (which gained an interesting second life through a Girlpool cover on a tour only covers EP, where the two bands did each others songs), they built up steam and followed with "Maggot", another highlight from the cassette, prefaced by Rachel declaring that the song really is about killing insects in your apartment...Unfortunately, sicker minds have taken the chorus to heart, ("I'll get revenge, pour bleach on your head, and now you're dead"), and turned it into a handy kiss-off to exes. Flipping the script instrument-wise, they pulled a quick changeover with Nicole moving to the drum chair, and Rachel taking up the guitar, blasting through "Teen Mom" and finishing with a cathartic take of cassette closer "Open Wide", brutalizing the coda over the audience's pre-emptive applause, then pulling the plug mid-feedback. Even from the opening position, Slutever left an imprint on the night.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I Know A Place Called The Roxy: Courtney Barnett live

30 MAY, 2015
Momentum has been building as Courtney Barnett tours the country in support of her full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. The frenzy accompanying the first of two sold out nights at LA's Roxy Theater served as confirmation, as well as a homecoming of sorts. A home away from home, if you will, as LA served as one of four places on the globe blessed with a gallery premier show of the new work back in March, Fully engaged with her rhythm section, the trio blazed through their set, balancing new and old material, but the tipping point for viewing how far she's come occured during "Depreston", when the crowd spontaneously sang the end refrain back to her. Truly a touching moment. "Small Poppies" and "Dead Fox" were also standouts, capturing the polar ends of her spectrum.

While waiting for Chastity Belt to hit the stage, one was given to ponder just what the appropriate name for this tour would be: "Battle of the C.B.'s", or perhaps a more formal "Courtney Belt". Ruminations aside, the band more than held up their end of this magic billing. Last fall in Lancaster, CA, we got our first taste of the songs that would form the spine of Time To Go Home, and the LP saw formal release in March. Roadwork in the interim has sharpened up the songs, to the point where their set featured only the Home material, plus even newer unreleased songs, ("Dull"). "IDC", the title track, and especially "On The Floor" served to spotlight the band interplay, and opener "Drone" is one of the better examples of Julia Shapiro's incisive writing. Moving forward is what Chastity Belt does, and the Roxy's refurbished system really brought out the depth of their sound. 

Veteran Australian troubador Darren Hanlon opened the night with a witty and engaging set of story songs, peaking with "Punks Not Dead", a reminisce of his days living in a punk house in Sydney. It was a great introduction to an artist we'll make a point to get more familiar with. If your ears bend to the taste of Paul Kelly or Peter Case, make a note of his name. Only bum note of his set was on the too-talkative audience members, but it's a measure of his professionalism that he didn't go full Kozelek on them, instead quickly expediting the situation. 



Annie elevates her sock game...
1st song (obscured) was "Drone"...