The Drums at the OC Observatory

This past Tuesday, I caught The Drums’ performance at the OC Observatory. The stage pit, risers, and balcony were all packed with Drums fans who cheered loudly as the Drums logo descended from above to set the stage. Surely they were awaiting an energetic performance—and the crowd’s anticipation was worthwhile.

My good friend reported, “You’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t seen the Drums!” And, for some reason I thought that was the only noteworthy statement to jot down during the performance. When I think about it now though, it really does sum up the show quite well…The Drums are super talented, fun, and interesting, and if you’ve never heard of them, hopefully these videos will entice you to take a listen…

What I love about The Drums is their unique surf-rock sound; it’s heavy, but in a way that makes you just want to dance the night away, which was what the audience, myself included, did! The lead singer, Johnny Pierce’s flamboyant dance moves make him so captivating to watch, and his voice just comes through smooth as butter.

They played a good mix of songs from Portamento, their self-titled album, The Drums, and their latest album, Encyclopedia. With three top-notch albums out, the show was just set up to be stellar. Encyclopedia brings more synth into the mix, in which more complex, lengthier and beautiful songs like “Wild Geese” shine through.

They closed the show with probably their most classic song of all time, “Let’s Go Surfing.” The crowd danced freely, boogie-ing with their hands in the air all night to the dreamy sounds of New York surf rock.

Hiatus Kaiyote during Grammy week

 I’ve had the immense pleasure of watching Hiatus Kaiyote perform twice in my life, both of which were legit transcendental experiences. At first, I’m upset with myself for not being able to follow the ever-changing time signatures. But then I surrender to the greatness that is Hiatus Kaiyote’s pure talent and precision that comes through in their sound.

Front woman, Nai Palm is truly a gift to watch live as she effortlessly incorporates jazz, funk, and rhythmic melodies that display her many vocal techniques. The entire band is comprised of extremely gifted and talented musicians, all of whom have made their jazz and funk-rock mastery apparent.

It is no surprise that “Breathing Under Water” is being nominated for a “Best R&B Performance” Grammy (although the category is questionable). It’s just a shame that the entire album, “Choose Your Weapon” is not up there as well. But as we all know, it’s Taylor Swift’s world and we’re all just living in it!

Haitus Kaiyote performed this past Tuesday at the Orange County Observatory. It’s a rare occasion to experience a live performance of this quality. From the opening song to the encore, a performance was delivered that’s difficult to put into words. The audience responded with gratitude at well thought out set list including a mix of fan favorites from Choose Your Weapon and Tawk Tomahawk.

Their music has a beautiful way of balancing complexity with ease, and heaviness with the ethereal, with everything coming into resolution with utter grace and ease. The closing performance of Nakamarra was really the icing on the cake. Bottom line is, no matter what music you’re into, Haitus Kaiyote flat out rocks, and does so while making it look so easy and effortless.

Beach Goth 2015

Beach Goth. The annual party that is equal parts Beach and Goth hostbeach-goth-4ed
acts ranging from the electro-pop styles of Grimes to the ghastly metal act appropriately named, “Ghost.” Top performances for me included Warpaint, the Drums, Mac Demarco, Moving Units, Grimes, and DIIV. Also, with the Adicts and Subhumans in the line-up, the show took me back to my high school punk years. Upon arrival at the venue, the Orange County Observatory in Santa Ana, long lines of concert-goes dressed in their creative and scantily clad costumes, as requested by the event curators. It was a sea of hipsters, punks, and weirdos alike. If you didn’t have tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair, you simply wouldn’t fit in. I would suggest watching the main stage from the beer garden–you’ll be at a side-view, but you’ll be closer to the stage and less crammed into the main crowd (where you’d likely get dehydrated or tired of being pushed around by the mosh pit and have to get a security guard to eventually lift you out of the crowd). The indoor secondary stage hosted smaller acts, such as Moving Units, Corners, and the Alla-Lahs, but with equally enthused an audience. Side-shows included the Rocky-Horror Picture show and a Dub club in the smaller Constellation Room and in the outside patio.
We arrived just in time for the Adicts playing “Viva la Revolution” which set the tone for the weekend. After a brief stint with Mr. Twin Sister, we caught The Aquabats who’s performance included a stage show with a dancing alien and what looked like one of those monsters from little shop of horrors, and a memorable last song of a cover of the Pixies, “Where is my mind.” Warpaint was next, and they promised the, “best 30-minute set” of our lives, a promise they did deliver. They started the set with one of their newer hit singles “No Way Out,” and played fan favorites including “Love is to die” and “Disco//very.” They always put on a great performance. My friend and I met some Warpaint fans at the show who were just there to see that band, a young married couple. They seemed to be happy with their money’s worth–at a $100 show, that might’ve been a lot to ask for. The Drums took the main stage after Warpaint with another 30-minute set. Donning his yellow tropical print satin jacket and blue bowl cut, Johnny Pierce was the embodiment of “Beach Goth.” One good thing about a 30-minute set time is that the bands are most likely going to play their fan favorites. This was also the case for the Drums, as they played “Surfing,” “Days” “Money,” and “Best Friend,” much to the crowd-surf loving audience’s approval. I wasn’t much of a fan of the next band, Ghost, who donned black skeleton pope and devil-ish costumes for their heavy metal set. But, next was Mac Demarco, who charmed the audience from his sound check to his classic final song “Together.” And just when the sounds of Mac got everyone feeling mellow, Grimes took the stage, equipped with a lightshow, heavy dance beats, and a theatric on-stage presence. To my dismay, we did not catch the Growlers, as the beer was kicking in and it was time to head home.
The following day, we arrived a little earlier to catch acts, “Corners” and “DIIV,” both of which we’d seen multiple times. Corners were on the “Graveyard” indoor stage. This local band from Echo Park had a full house of punk-indie-rock appreciative fans complete with mosh pit. We went outside to catch DIIV, who performed several new songs with their classic intro “we’re called DIIV….we’re from New York…this is a new song…” in addition to several tracks from Oshin, their first and only album (so far). The sounds washed over the crowd in a haze of reverb, and much head swaying was spotted. After DIIV, we went inside to catch Moving Units, whom I hadn’t listened to in at least 5 years, but their sound was instantly recognizable, and suddenly I remembered the chorus to “Between Us and Them.” They performed with high energy on the neon-glowing slightly-demonically dressed stage. Outside we caught the pop-punk act, FIDLAR, whose members ironically appeared in identical suits
as they sang songs about 40 oz beers, bills, and babes. Their catchy song, “west coast” had the entire audience pogo-ing. It was such a fun, light-hearted set. We stuck around to catch Julian Casablancas, whom I hadn’t really listened to much before, as I’m not a huge strokes fan. However, listening to them now, their set just seemed to be a wash of loud sound and was difficult to make out the songs because the voice distortion was pretty hard on the ears. We left early to catch the Allah-Lahs, whose simple 70’s inspired surf-rock had the crowd swaying. We went outside once more to catch some of Die Antwoord’s performance, which included all kinds of artsy videos and choreography to back their experimental electronica style.
Overall, with several impressive acts, this event was not to be missed. Yes, the crowds were a bit much at times and the food was just okay, but it’s that DIY, low-budget production that gives the event it’s true charm. The bands all started on time for the most part, and there was an act to please everyone. We’ll see you next year, Beach Goth.