Bilinda Butchers and No Vacation at the Echo

Last night I caught a sold out show at the Echo with co-headliners No Vacation and Bilinda Butchers and opening act Tim Atlas.

There was a line awaiting me at the Echo, and standers-by awaiting an extra ticket. I walked into the crowded room to the groovin’ sounds of Tim Atlas. Atlas had apparently gained some fame by being selected on Gwen Stefani’s team for the Voice! It wasn’t hard to see why – his vocals and jazz-influenced yet danceable tracks had the crowd wanting more.

But the stars of the night were San Francisco-based indie band, No Vacation. This female-fronted act brought a range of dreamy indie and psych rock sounds that at one point had an audience member exclaim, “why am I crying at the club?!” They also played a couple brand new songs including one with a placeholder name “Tired,” which had everyone looking forward to hearing more new music. “Yam Yam” was my favorite song they played that night, which was one of their slower, dreamier tracks and was simply stunning live. For their final song, they encouraged the audience to get wild, which they did (to my dismay, as I was smack in the middle of the pit!) I kindly got out of the way and the crowd surfing commenced.

After what seemed like an eternity, the Bilinda Butchers, or the bbs as they’re going by now, took the stage after removing the drum set. They started with a series of electronic sigh-worthy songs, and I was a little disappointed at their lackluster performance of my favorite song of theirs, “Tulips,” but the crowd came alive when they performed “Sigh” with a real shoegazy-electro edge to it. The Frontman shared awkwardly between songs, sharing that they normally have a drummer so the current setup was still new. A drummer might have been nice! Their set seemed quite short, as they started after 11:00 and ended just around midnight, thanking us for coming out on a Wednesday (even though most the attendees looked like they had just finished high school.

All in all, it was a decent show!

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Mac Demarco Live at The Echo

This past Thursday was a real special night in L.A. Mac Demarco, who’s on his way to Coachella this weekend, announced that he was playing a “secret” last-minute show at The Echo for a mere $22 a ticket! I heard the announcement first on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic Facebook Live video of Mac and friends in their studio.

Continue reading

Frankie Cosmos at the Echo

This past Thursday, I caught Brooklyn-based Lo-Fi Indie-Rock outfit, Frankie Cosmos at her sold out show at the Echo. Opening acts included female-fronted performances—solo acts of Anna McClellan and Yowler, as well as Frankie Cosmo’s keyboard/vocalist’s band, Eskimeaux.

Lately, the Echo has been one of my favorite concert venues, and I prefer it even over its larger step-sister, the Echoplex, because I’m almost always guaranteed a spot right up front. There was an unexpected guest on the stage shortly after I arrived, Anna McClellan, who was joining the tour just for the night. Sporting an overall maxi dress and oversized glasses, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when she mentioned she was from Omaha. She opened the show with some blues-inspired piano playing and belting vocals, and was joined by Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos) and band for her final song. Yowler took the stage next, laying down her solo guitar set with the audience. Her voice was probably one of the strongest of the group that evening, and her performance had some beautiful moments, such as singing “let it go, let it go” angelically over her guitar. Continue reading

DIIV at the Echo

Last night I caught Diiv performing on their first day of a three-day consecutive performance in Los Angeles at the Echo. The opening acts included girl-punk band, the Paranoyds, and Katy Goodman of Vivian Girl’s trio, La Sera.

The Paranoyds opened and looked like models with guitars, packed with moaning and belting vocals paired with punk rock guitar riffs. I appreciated the way the Paranoyds seemed to embrace the unexpected, as they shared a straightforward tune and without warning veered into a triplet breakdown complete with head-banging. Very fun to watch indeed!

La Sera took the stage next, and Katy’s vocals really shined through. Their music had a folky-indie-rock vibe to it, with a lot of catchy melodies. The highlight of La Sera was when Katy just decided she and her bass needed to be in the audience with us, and she jumped off the stage and danced around on the floor in the crowd. Loved the energy!

Headliners Diiv took the stage next. I’d seen Diiv live maybe four times already, and just from the opening act could tell that this crowd were avid Diiv fans, (as opposed to people who attend shows at the echo like “ooh what should we do tonight? There’s a show at he Echo, could be interesting!”) Diiv played a good mix of fan favorites from their first album, Oshin, as well as their latest album released just this month, “Is the Is Are.” The only song I left disappointed in not hearing was Valentine, but perhaps another time.

Diiv’s performance was really good overall, but had its moments of poor showmanship. The stopping and starting of songs to Zachary Cole Smith’s perfectionist standard was a bit much at times. They started Healthy Moon a good five times before getting it right, and Smith’s frustration came crystal clear through to the audience. His pedal also appeared to not be working properly, and he responded by kicking it repeatedly. I realized that he was coming down on himself, and the negative self-talk was going through his mind as he apologized profusely for the performance, and shared that he was feeling “off.” I felt for him, I really did, but in my experience of performing, only I truly know if I’m making a mistake and the majority of the time, it doesn’t event come through to the audience nor affect them. In my opinion, he could have played it off, but maybe that’s not rock-n-roll…

The crowd, however, was loving every minute of the show. They sang, got rowdy, moshed, stage dived, and crowd surfed at any opportune moment. The highlight of Diiv performance for me was their four-song encore. Despite moments of perfectionism and frustration, they were truly yearning to be on stage as long as possible. Keep making great music, Diiv, and give yourself a break once in a while!

 The Paranoyds

  La Sera


La Sera

  Diiv


Diiv

Avid Dancer at the Echo

This past Thursday, I caught Avid Dancer, Gothic Tropic, and Banta at the Echo. With Gothic Tropic and Kera (Kera and the Lesbians) playing bass in Avid Dancer, it felt a little bit like a Girlschool Weekend reunion! I definitely had flashbacks to that amazing music-filled weekend.

Female fronted band, Banta, opened the night with some danceable indie-pop. Next was Gothic Tropic, who performed several of their newer songs. It’s a pleasure to watch front woman, Cecilia, shredding on the guitar, as she takes the lead both with her vocals and in the guitar solos. Quite impressive. Lastly, Avid Dancer closed the show and performed fan favorites, “I Feel It” and “I want to see you Dance,” in addition to a beautiful acoustic solo performance by frontman Jacob Summers to close the night. Overall, a fun night of Indie Pop was had for all at the Echo on Thursday night! Here are a couple of clips from the performance:

Gothic Tropic:

Avid Dancer:

Martin Courtney

Last night I caught Martin Courtney (of Real Estate) performing his first solo concert in California! Opening bands included Golden Daze and Matt Kivel.

The bill opened with Golden Daze–a dreamy indie-pop band who shared the likes of Mac Demarco and Slowdive, and were fans of distortion, reverb, guitar licks, and tambourine. The intimate crowd at the Echo swayed their Monday night away.

Next, Matt Kivel (formerly of Gap Dream) took the stage and took us on an intimate journey as he shared folk inspired melodies with rock breakdowns. In all honesty, I found it difficult to place him in a genre—but my friend identified his sound as having a very present Sonic Youth influence.

Martin Courtney then took the stage, beginning the performance with the first song on his debut solo album, “Awake.” His dry sense of humor and perfectionist attitude came through in the performance, as he was subtly, but noticeable irritated at himself when a note didn’t quote come through to his liking. They played all of the songs on the album, Many Moons, which was produced by Jarvis Taveniere, who also plays bass with the band. The live act was really spot on, and rarely distinctive to the recording. Many Moons is much what you’d expect from the leader of Real Estate—still jangly, lo-fi surf rock, but a little more delicate, that inspires a feel-good calmness. The the cherry atop the performance would have to be the covers that that they shared at the completing of their performance of all ten track featured in Many Moons. Courtney jokingly shared something along the lines of, “well, that’s it! We only know ten songs,” and exited the stage, which inspired the audience to cheer “one more song!” The band came back out and performed some songs with Matt Kivel himself, appropriately selecting Harvest Moon and the Killing Moon. His perseverance through the encore was refreshing to see!

Courtney got up close and personal with his fans directly moving to the merch table right after the show, where he took photos and signed both my friend and my records. It was definitely a Monday MLK Jr. Day to remember!

Check out this video of Martin Courtney performing “Vestiges” January 18, 2016 at the Echo in Los Angeles: