(Sandy)Alex G & Japanese Breakfast at the Echoplex

On the 15th of June I caught a sold out show at the Echoplex with opener Cende, Japanese Breakfast, and Alex G.

Japanese Breakfast performed some new songs, sharing that their new album would come out next month. The singer was perfectly charming, even stepping out during Cende’s set to sing a song with them. Highlights from their set included their dreamy opening track and “Everybody Wants to Love You.”

(Sandy) Alex G, if you haven’t seen him live, is really something special. Their set was long without feeling over extended, and they played mostly tracks off their latest album, Rocket. Alex G switched from guitar to piano smoothly with a mild power interruption, and while I was happy to hear “Guilty” live, they were missing some key players on stage to round out the song like their sax and violin players. But regardless, Alex G’s intense talent and cool factor, even the way he quickly sways constantly while playing guitar had me in a star-struck trance. Their performance of “Sportstar” sans auto-tune made me a believer in the song, requiring me to go back and listen to it in the car with even more enthusiasm and respect.

Upon completing their jazz jam session in “Guilty,” Alex G said casually, “well, that was our set….what do you guys wanna hear?” This was so refreshing, as most bands these days aren’t quite as quick on their feet or even as cool to allow the crowd to shout out some requests. But they took the requests and played them, even the older more rusty ones, with ease. I was especially delighted when they played “Mis,” a particularly beautiful but depressing track with lyrics like “My baby’s all right / she just doesn’t wanna see me tonight / not for a minute / not for a second / she says there’s nothing here for you to make right.” Crying yet?

I was walking on air on the way out, and the only thing that added to my elation was a Zachary Cole Smith sighting (of DIIV) leaving the show – band members, they’re just like us!

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Who Run the World? PLAG GIRLS

This past Memorial Day weekend while everyone was brunching and BBQ’ing (and apparently in Lake Tahoe!), I headed to the Echoplex on a Saturday afternoon on my own to celebrate a Birthday of a beloved institution – Play Like A Girl!

Headliners Kitten and Smoke Season drew me into the show, but I was just as excited to listen to a new lineup of female-fronted bands I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing. I was greeted by friendly faces upon arrival around 4:30, just in time to catch the second band of the day, Stars at Night. Amongst the modest crowd of hard-rock enthusiasts, I spotted a table I had missed with only a handful of swag bags. I snagged mine and immediately noticed the Urban Decay lipstick package, which I promptly put on! I also stopped by the raffle table filled with impressive prizes and with proceeds going to the trans alliance, and I gladly made my $5 entry.

Spare Parts for Broken Hearts was the first full set I was able to experience, and they got me really excited for what was about to come. They were an alt/garage-rock group with a lead singer who was quite impressive. Between the setups, I headed out to the smoke filled patio that featured several eclectic vendors and a food truck. I got myself a Black Flag button that said “Black Coffee” instead, the iconic lines taking the shape as coffee cups in their place.

The Bedroom Witch had an elaborate setup – the trans woman walked around the stage placing styrofoam heads and wigs atop three pillars and a string of purple lights. She wore a fierce all-black outfit, complete with a crop top and witch’s hat brim. Her set took the shape of a performance art piece, as electronic music played while she sung or spoke and a film of her in her bedroom played silently in the background.

Twin Temple was one of my favorites from the night. I was looking forward to their set after seeing their “satanic” (more like witchy)  merch table, complete with palo santo sticks and magic candles for sale. The front woman was small yet fierce, donning all black with a black veil and leading all-male bandmates also sporting black outfits and satanic necklaces. They started the scene with an altar ritual and played an impressive set of psych and surf rock with a satanic twist (think “Oh Lucifer” instead of “Oh Baby). They were backed by a sax and trumpet player, and boy could she sing! I later discovered she’s a trained violinist. Go figure.

The charming Viaa took the stage next, and played some soulful indie-pop. Iress was a powerhouse of an act, bringing in a Chelsea Wolfe meets Slowdive vibe to the stage. The lead singer sang over a wash of sound with such might, she moved the entire crowd.

Blimes Brtixton added the hip-hop element to the fest, and Sisu played a short but sweet dreamy indie set. Smoke Season took the stage, and performed their indie-pop all out. Singer Gabbi has such a confidence about her on stage, and moves and sings with such precision and grace. Big balloons were tossed into the now-crowded room, raining confetti when they finally popped.

But the crowd really went nuts for Kitten – her voice shimmered and belted over indie-pop tunes with an ’80’s vibe, and she simply couldn’t stop moving. At one point, she even climbed up the stage and jumped into the crowd and just crowd surfed for a while. It was quite a show! Vagina balloons were eventually tossed into the crowd, and PLAG was officially one!

Between the bands, I did my best to be social and the concert-goers were delightfully interested! I’d talk about my blog, they’d share about their band or project and it really gave the night a community feeling vibe. A lovely hilarious couple even bought me my first Irish Carbomb (which I regretted in the a.m.), but it was just that kind of night! I even sat myself in the meme photo booth and had a blast finding that my facial expressions matched the meme generator to perfection.

PLAG did a stellar job with this lineup of impressive female-fronted acts, even giving GIRLSCHOOL a run for it’s money! (not that it’s a competition…) PLAG hosts events every month for just a small entry fee. If you’re in the L.A. area, come out and support the girls (who run the world!)

Visit PLAG’s website to attend an upcoming show – see you there!

 

Priests Prove Post-Punk Perseveres

This President’s Day (#notmypresident), I appropriately caught an all-female lineup at the Echoplex. Stef Chura and Alice Bag opened the show for Washington D.C. based post-punk outfit, Priests.

People began to filter in during Stef Chura, a Detroit based indie rock group as the trio filled the room with dreamy lo-fi sounds. The crowd was really excited to see L.A. punk icon, Alice Bag on the Echoplex stage. She was one of the founding members of the Bags, and was really essential in putting the Los Angeles punk scene on the map. Born and raised in East L.A., Bag’s music and lyrics are reflective of her upbringing, and her message inspires political activism. She sang some originals from her 2016 solo album, as well as some songs from The Bags, including “We Will Bury You” – a message she dedicated personally to the Tump administration. Her daughter even joined on stage as a backup singer, and it was a tender moment when Alice Bag made a brief but touching shoutout to her. In between songs, she spoke about feminism, consent, education, and Chicano and human rights. It was quite a movement of a set, and she and her band really brought the energy to match through catchy, punk rock tunes.

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