The High Highs (…and NoHo Joe)


Last Tuesday, I caught the High Highs performing with Mothlight at the Bootleg Theater. This is not only a testament to the joys of seeing live music, but also an encouragement to have the courage to go solo!

I showed up on my own right about when the doors opened and headed for the bar. The woman from behind the bar with really short hair turned to me—it was Kera! Struck, I exclaimed, “Kera! From Kera and the Lesbians…and Avid Dancer!” We shared a brief but nice moment in which I told her I was a fan and truly enjoyed her band’s performance at Girlschool Field Day Weekend. She went on to serve others.

I stood around for a while…the place was not crowded to say the least. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice an older (much older) gentleman holding a cardboard case of records. It’s the guy! The one I saw at Craft Spells and Small Black a few months ago. He’s like an indie rock super fan. I slowly made my way over to him and said hi and that I’d seen him around before. He introduced himself as “Joe,” opened up immediately, and we had a good 20 minute conversation before the opening band. In our conversation, I found out that he’s in his 60s and spends his retirement discovering new rock music and going to shows. He’s been to hundred of shows he says, and the secret to remembering them is to stay off drugs and go easy on the alcohol, according to him. He shared about how people his age tend to get stuck listening to a particular decade in music. “It’s not like it was in the ’70’s,” they’d proclaim. This is one of Joe’s biggest gripes—there’s great music being made right now! You just have to listen. He’s a frequent caller on 88.9 KXLU FM as a song requester, and the DJs there dubbed him as “NoHo Joe,” as he resides in North Hollywood. What I loved about talking with this man was that his passion for music and love for the bands was clear as day, and he just exuded authenticity. I hope to be like him when I retire, and even beyond that to die with the music still in me.

Great way to start a show, right?! 

The crowd thickened and cheering began as members of L.A. based band Mothlight took to the stage. They set the mood for a night of dreamy sway-worthy indie pop, laden with heavy synth and echoing vocals. This trio was not shy in vocals, often introducing harmonies to best utilize their duo of frontmen. As an added bonus, they gave everyone a free copy of their latest album on CD!

Next were the High Highs, New York via Australia-based indie dream-pop band. Their latest album, “Cascades,” was just released this year, so I was excited to see these new songs performed live. When I listened to this album in full, I found myself slightly disinterested, as it is for the most part pretty one-note. The songs all seemed to blend together in a dreamy haze. To my delight, seeing the live performance gave me in increased appreciation of the subtle beauty that resides in this album. The vocals were soft but cutting through the smallest room at the Bootleg Bar, and the audience swayed and watched in much admiration. One of my favorite moments was a solo performance of “Bridge” off their earlier album, “Open Season.” It was full or intensity, musicality and emotion. Another song I really appreciated was the opening track on “Cascades,” “Boxing,” filled with Ooohs and Aaahs and pretty guitar chord pings underneath the wash of synth strings. After the performance, I had a newfound appreciation of “Cascades” and to this day find myself listening over and over again. These songs have so many subtle layers that can take a while to be noticed to their fullest potential.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend this show on my own, as it gave me the courage to meet new interesting people and just have my own experience with the music. If you’re hesitant to make plans on your own, I encourage you to try it—you just never know who you might end up meeting that will inspire you and what kind of experience you might have.


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