Yeasayer & Port O’Brien @ Echoplex, January 26, 2008
Last Saturday, the Echoplex hosted one of the more solid lineups I’ve witnessed in a while. Due to the high level of interest, the show had been moved downstairs from the smaller Echo. Of course, this also resulted in a longer line of people who endured the rain for hours while holding out hope for a ticket. The first band was a young Northern California band Port O’Brien and hardly any crowd was present under the dry Echoplex confines as they took stage. While Port O’Brien’s accomplished folk rock didn’t brim with originality, their set was infused with energy from start to finish, mainly by lead singer Van Pierszalowski. So much so, that his version of the ’all out guitar freak out’ towards the end of the set didn’t come off as forced or formulaic. And as you can probably tell from the photos, I did take notice of their attractive banjoist/keyboardist Cambria Goodwin.
By the time Brooklyn-based Yeasayer took the stage about a majority of the audience had filled the venue. Lead singer Chris Keating opened with a comment about how unfortunate it was that people had to wait out in the rain. I mention this because it seemed that the band were intent on trying to establish rapport with the audience upfront. And if it wasn’t for the unfortunate wayward drumstick incident all of his other comments about “LA crowds being more reserved than New York’s” and “Any wannabe actors in the crowd?”, etc., would have been construed as lighthearted jibes. There were a few fans towards the front that cheered for Yeasayer before they came on stage and I hope this wasn’t lost on the band.
In the midst of all the distraction the band did perform a full set. Their music often incorporates primal rhythms reminiscent of Animal Collective. I couldn’t help but be transfixed by some of the band’s unique visual elements on stage: 1) Drummer Luke Fasano’s beaten up, weathered cymbal (perhaps inspiration for the band’s debut album “All Hour Cymbal”?); 2a) bassist Ira Wolf Tuton’s wife beater turned mini dress; 2b) and his fretless–am I going to pull a Jaco Pastorius or Les Claypool on ya?–instrument; 3) Chris Keating’s 45 degree–I’ll show you my good side only–keyboard arrangement; and 4) guitarist Anand Wilder’s–I’ll be the one with the longest locks in the band–hairdo. If it seems like, I too, was caught up in my own personal distractions, perhaps, it was a result of my ambivalence toward the group’s music, I can’t say it was too far from the truth. Or maybe I just fit the stereotype of the reserved LA audience.
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