No wave: Neon Reverb, Sept. 13, Artifice and Beauty Bar
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After pondering my Neon Reverb assignments for last night, I realized I signed up for the last thing I currently want to hear: facsimiled New Wave. I'm over it, finally, and I now relate to those who were over it when it began kicking up 10 years ago. And somehow, I was able to (mostly) dodge it at my stops at Artifice and Beauty Bar.
First, Lazystars, our most Anglophilic band that isn't headlining British music festivals. It's been a year since I've seen them, and within that year, they've swapped bandmembers and put out a full-length album. On Thursday night, they stumbled a bit out of the gate. The band didn't quite project, in both sound and emotion. The songs didn't quite hit. And the banter felt awkward. But about halfway in, the musicians fully synthesized, the melodies scored one direct hit after another, and the crowd -- larger than I expected given the competition at Bunkhouse (a more locals-friendly Reverb showcase) and at the Cosmopolitan (The Hives) -- physically embodied the energy of the music. The Lazystar dudes had to especially feel good seeing all the females twirling about. Those final 20-25 minutes were the best I'd ever seen the band play, and by set's end, I felt good enough to ditch the keyboard onslaught to come.
Which took me to Artifice and the Sonidero party, celebrating rock en Español and alternativo. I'd missed local act Menores, mostly because I caught it in the spring, but arrived in time for Gallo (pronounced gah-yo), a Los Angeles-based post-punk/New Wave band with members of former rock en Español band Monte Negro. New Wave. Uh-oh. Reserving the right to leave if a) the band turned out to be the Mexican equivalent of Soft Cell and b) my beer was finished, I sat down and awaited the start of the performance. Thankfully, it leaned more post-punk than New Wave, emphasizing 4/4 beats and herky basslines and foregoing the oppressive keyboard melodies I was dreading. Like perhaps a merging of Franz Ferdinand and Elefant -- which, of course, puts this band square back in 2004. But better there than 1984. And Gallo changed things up with sustained stretches of instrumental jamming (though likely not improvised) and New Order-like rhythmic builds, which made some of their numbers impressively transportive. The music maintained an edge while simultaneously sounding pleasant. Not a groundbreaker, but it hit my musical comfort zone.
Interesingly, singer/guitarist Kinski Gallo sang in Spanish but bantered in English. This was probably because at least half the crowd was caucasian, which is a little unusual for a Sonidero showcase. In fact, the crowd in general underwhelmed in comparison to other Sonidero shows I've attended. Perhaps the Spanish rock crowd has tired of the 1980s throwback sound, too.