The Bird and The Bee, Haim, The Damn Sons, and [Post-foetus] at the Tricot Showroom, March 14, 2009
I’m happy to report the smashing success of The Bird and The Bee, Haim, The Damn Sons, and [Post-foetus] at the Tricot Showroom. The Fire Marshall almost shut it down, but FMLY came to the rescue. Out of respect to FMLY members Cameron Rath and Cody Silberfein, I wave my awkward pre-show experience walking up and down the winding staircase, wristbands, everybody wait outside, form two lines on the side, keep this middle area clear, one hour delay thing to just say thank you. Fuck the paddy wagon, rock the house.
I learned about FMLY that evening, described by Gray on the staircase as “a music collective, an art collective, basically throws shows, dedicates itself to bringing music back into prominence and is for the people.” Anonymous people found this show through your own Losanjealous, LA Weekly, KCRW, The Onion, Santa Monica something or other, The Bird and The Bee MySpace page, and THEFMLY.COM. The mostly under 21 audience came to honor their local band favorites, not necessarily The Bird and The Bee. Elijah said of Haim, “They’re very good. They’re like a girl pop band with testicles.” Most people to whom I spoke said that they’re REALLY good. Someone else said he did not know much about the Bird and The Bee, that he had one of their albums, “the, um, laser one” (Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future), and he was there to support [Post-foetus]. “I don’t really know them that well. I don’t really know them,” said another.
The next thing I knew, I was striking up a rapport with Serena of Serena Interiors. We discussed her Eastern positive outlook, meditation, new journeys… and then we were friends. This is something that happens at FMLY events, but how was I to know.
Inside, I appreciated the large loft Tricot: loud as hell, bricks for walls, open bar left, juice cage right, and up front, everyone around a ground level stage. The Tricot slowly filled with people. I tried to find out the name of the first band. No one knew it was [Post-foetus]. I noticed a Macbook Pro running noises and keyboard drops, a cellist with three guitar pedals near her chair, drums, two guitarists, a bassist, and front man Will Wiesenfeld. This singer, writer and recordist performed syncopated hand claps while uttering primal screams and chants over the six piece accompaniment.
I caught up with him after his set:
WILL WIESENFELD — [POST-FOETUS]
How did you arrange this?
“I just practice. We’ve been practicing for like four months figuring it all out.”
How did you come to open for The Bird and The Bee?
“Cameron, the guy who put on this whole show, he’s the guy who runs THEFMLY.COM, the music blog. And I’m friends with him. He just put me on the bill. He really likes my music.”
Relating to FMLY, like brothers?
“Kind of. I’m part of the thing that they’re doing. He’s trying to build up all these DIY shows and he wants me to be a part of a lot of them, so yeah.
Do you think you’re at the forefront of the solo artist who farms out his work?
“I don’t know. I have no idea. I mean, I’m really excited. This is still, like, the biggest thing ever for me. I don’t have a lot of MySpace friends or anything, but the thing is Daedalus, the artist, big electronic guy, he wants to put out my album on a label they just started.”
Cameron Rath talked to me by merchandise row (where The Bird and The Bee lady’s underwear was for sale).
“Friends and family, that’s what we’re all about. You can see in there that it’s a different kind of set-up. It’s not like a show. We don’t run shows. We run community-oriented events.”
How did you get the idea for a loft [as opposed to a concert hall]?
“About three or four years ago, I saw these bands that were getting no attention from anybody, and they were incredible. [Post-foetus] is one of the originals. Most of the others are defunct now. We started off by doing house shows, shows at cafes, bakeries… we’re trying to keep this DIY style to it and making it not about showing up to a show with your arms crossed like you’re too cool to be there, and it’s not about showing up to a place to look cool. It’s about going to a place because you love the music and you want to meet new people. And you want to become part of something that’s going on all over the world right now. New York especially is the center point of it. The DIY scene.”
You mean it moved from DC?
“It’s a different thing we’re bringing to it. All of your friends, even if you don’t know them yet, are hanging out having a good time. Our motto, which has been forming for a while, is ’come to one of our shows and the person next to you becomes your best friend for the night.’”
It happened to me. How did you pick the other bands?
“The Damn Sons.. I saw them at a show at Unknown Theater… and they played with [best kept secret in LA] Rumspringa… and they were at the Unknown shooting a music video that was shot in the buff… and they just happened to be playing. And Este Haim, who’s from the Haim sisters, Haim is playing tonight… I LOVE them…”
What about The Bird and The Bee?
“They’re… new. They recently started working with us. This is the first show we’re doing with them. When we started FMLY, the idea was that we needed to bring attention to these smaller bands, and we’ve been able to make that happen by bringing in bands like The Bird and The Bee who were on Jimmy Kimmel and at Carnegie Hall… they’re everywhere… but as far as musicianship goes, the two best bands in LA, for me right now, are [Post-foetus] and Haim.”
THE DAMN SONS
This band is doing a lot of things with three people. They’re comparable to The Cramps, Chris Isaak. and Queens of the Stone Age, and I definitely heard the earnest vox and lonely forces of R.E.M.’s “Chronic Town” and even a hint of Aerosmith.
Travis, the singer and guitarist, who plays a beautiful Gretsch White Falcon, gave a few moments of his time.
How did you find out about FMLY?
“Actually, one of the promoters saw us at a show at the Unknown Theater and then approached us online. A funny story, we actually found out that we were added to tonight’s list before they even asked us. One of the other bands said, ’We’re really excited about the show we’re playing together!’ And I had no idea about it! So I called the promoter and said, ’Hey, I’d love to know about the show we’re playing for you.” And he said, ’Ohhhhhhh, yeah, someone was supposed to ask you about that.’” So I said, well, we’re down, we’ll play anywhere. And that’s how FMLY picked us up.”
Are you signed? Can we buy your records?
“We’re actually not signed. We’re working on our first EP right now. We’re finishing it tomorrow. The band after us, Haim, is doing background vocals on the EP tomorrow afternoon.”
Where can we see you next?
“I don’t know yet. I’m not sure. Check myspace.com/thedamnsons.”
After The Damed Sons’s set, at 11pm, something started happening in the loft. Crowds cleared so that a waist-high barrier could be erected near the right-hand side. Projections of Jimi Hendrix and his original line-up were projected onto the opposite wall. We were getting prepped for something different.
Out of freakin’ nowhere, three spirited young men in black shirts, black pants, and designer tennis shoes commenced flipping off the wall and performing acrobats. Totally unexpected, but the crowd was into it. They call themselves “Lost Boys”. It was impressive. This is when an energy spike in the show really took place. These guys do what is called Free Running, or “moving through your environment”, a form of self-expression that includes some pretty unbelievably close-quarters gymnastics.
Now here’s FMLY in action. My new friend, Serena, gently lead me over to nineteen-year-old Lost Boy Andrew Eng to talk about his art because she thought it would be cool.
“We got here through Mindy Kelly. (We’re friends.) And we were brought in and told to put on a show. So we did what we had to do.”
Where have we seen you perform?
“I’ve performed with one of my teammates (King) at PMA08.
Isn’t this dangerous?
“Of course, but we work our hardest to play it safe.” (Andrew practices three to five hours a day.)
Will you be opening for bands in the future?
“I sure hope so!”
Do you have a touchstone, a place for people to contact you?
“I can give you this: myspace.com/anbu_cpt”
He wanted to give his email, but you should check him online.
What a warm-up for Haim, three sisters and two misters who could not have been more loved. Daniel, the middle sister, plays lead guitar, Este plays bass, Alana plays rhythm, Alex Fischel plays keys, and Steven’s the drummer. Now, I had no idea what I was about to watch, only that their credibility ran high at FMLY. But once they went into “Figure It Out”, I figured it out. All three sisters sing and play with martinet discipline and Led Zeppelin-like energy. They are just smoldering with sex appeal. And would ya listen to the writing! It’s gorgeous! I was slack-jawed, grinning, like on a sugar high to see them sing and perform with such precision and musicality. During the intense, tough and strong anthem song “Spirit Wind”, I felt them worthy of any stadium. To think I saw them in a small room.
Here’s me talking to Haim:
H-A-I-M. How did the band get named? (Well, duh, I didn’t know.)
“It’s our last name. Well, it’s not their last name but it’s our last name.”
Your musicianship is really standing out. How long did it take you to get up to this level?
“Well, we had a family band before with my parents. We started playing when we were like, I don’t know, I was seven, maybe. The only thing I could carry was like a cow bell.” “We’d been playing with our parents for like forever so we decided to branch out and do our own thing.”
What are your influences?
“Um… a lot of stuff. Joni Mitchell, her songwriting, her lyrics…”
“Oh, you mean girl bands?” The words girl bands got hacky-sacked between them. “Oh, we like Heart. We love Feist now. We really love Fleetwood Mac.” Someone sang out, “Sixes!”
Are you signed?
“No, we’re not.”
A lot of people in line commented that they came to see you.
“We had no idea!”
Parting shot. FMLY, what do you think?
“Loves it. Loves it. Loves it. Loves it. We are part of the FMLY, literally.” Cue Sister Sledge.
HAIM will be playing at the Troubadour on April 2nd with Robert Francis. Doors open at 8pm. MySpace.com/wearehaim
THE BIRD AND THE BEE
Made it to the headliner. I saw one of my favorite bands three feet away from me. And due to my new friend’s Serena’s spontaneous introduction, I got a chance to meet them.
I tried to talk to Greg Kursten earlier when he came out for a drink. No one knew who we was, save that he “wore a brown overcoat and walked with a limp”. Manager Christopher was in a funk about the live sound and had no time to talk to me; he shooed me off like some groupie. So, in a let-down frame of mind, I settled in to watch a right original band get their thing on. And I was into it. I had seen “Fucking Boyfriend” linked to Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job, and fell for Inara George like everyone else who sees her big eyes and impeccable fashion sense for the genius she is.
Portishead reading The Free Design, the mod hair cut and her beautiful white belle dress, the harpsichords and harmony parts, it’s all there live. George (“bird”), keeping her bass near, and Kursten (“bee”) on his B3 (or whatever that classic organ is) are backed by sirens Alex Lilly, Juliette Commagere, and Willow Geer. All three background singers have excellent tonal control, sassy dance antics, and the ability to play auxiliary synths and toy xylophones while swaying back and forth like The Supremes. For my money, they were having more fun than Inara George.
TBATB opened with the girls clapping out the parts to “My Love”, and soon thereafter did the same in sarcasm to “Again & Again”. “Fucking Boyfriend” was a highlight, of course. But what caved in the sides was a splash of Hall and Oats, “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”. “Polite Dance Song”, near the end, finally got the kids in the first row synching their lips, swaying their hips. “Love Letter to Japan” went okay; they sent the sirens packing for that.
That’s when Serena texted me, “Girls will be ready for you as soon as lead singer is done.” :-)
I’m interviewing the girls in the band…?
PHOTO: The Bird and The Bee by Sung, Santa Monica Civic, 10/05/07.
ALEX LILLY, JULIETTE COMMAGERE AND WILLOW GEER
Have you been on the tour since Carnegie Hall?
Well, me [Alex] and this girl Willow played Carnegie Hall, what, a year and a half ago? The one that just happened was me and Juliette — [Willow] left to pursue her acting career — and Wendy Wang (of the Sweet Hurt) was there as well.
How was it going from somewhere like Carnegie Hall to FMLY?
“I mean, it was kind of nerve-wracking.” “I was, uh, drinking a little bit more.” “This is more of what I’m used to, Carnegie Hall is more, oooooo!” “Everyone had a Steinway in their dressing room. All of us had our own dressing rooms, our own Steinways. But we had our own beers here, though.” “This is definitely more what I’m used to.”
Did Cameron talk to your management? Is that how you were roped in with local LA bands? I mean a band of your status…
“Ha, ha, ha!”
So, how do you relate to those two?
“Man, those two are crazy. We can’t relate.” “They’re drunks and perverts.” “Greg’s a passive pervert.” “We basically go into his dressing room when he’s just trying to mind his own business..”
Do you want this on the record?
“I’ve known Inara since I was a baby. We sang in a barbershop quartet together when we were younger. And when she got big with Greg, she was like, ’I need back-up singers!’ So she invited us to come and join them, and it’s just changed, and it keeps getting passed on through different people and backup singers, but really, it’s their project.”
Do you have perfect pitch? It certainly sounds that way.
(Juliette does. Alex studied composition and piano.)
Did Greg ask for help backing him up on keys or did you volunteer?
“Alex volunteers…?” [LAUGHTER] “I totally volunteered. Greg, can I do this? Can I do this?” “Seriously, you know, there’s some extra parts that he needed. Greg is a genius, but as brilliant as he is…”
Are you pursuing independent careers?
“[Alex] is in a band called Obi Best that’s wonderful. They actually just opened for The Bird and The Bee. [Willow] does classical theater and I just sit there and live a sad life.” Juliette Commagere has been on Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Who does the choreography?
“Some of it we came up with, but a lot of the clapping stuff is from Lexi Pearl, an amazing dancer. She’s an aerialist. Cirque Du Soleil stuff. She’s been best friends with Inara since they were babies.”
PHOTO: The Bird and The Bee by Sung, Santa Monica Civic, 10/05/07.
I just asked your background singers what it was like to go from Carnegie Hall to a smaller venue. What do you think about that?
“It’s completely different. It’s hard to even like… it’s like apples and oranges.” I mean, one is like a seated thing and you’re listening… I had a cold for both. My cold at Carnegie Hall was a lot worse than my cold here.”
Hall and Oats. Was that a kitsch knock?
“No we love them. We’re working on an entire cover record of Hall and Oats based hits. Should be out by Summer.”
I’ll look for that. You’re original cover of the Bee Gees, probably most famous from Sex and The City, was that the beginning of your career or did you have something that lead up to it?
“No, we put out a record. I mean, I don’t think that. When we made our record was sort of the start.”
Where did you meet Greg?
“He worked on my solo record. He played keyboard and piano and we met there. And then we hooked up and made a band.”
Why would you play such a small venue in LA? You career is breaking right now.
“I don’t know. It’s pretty big, actually. We’ve played smaller. It’s a great venue, actually, it’s cool. Carnegie Hall was a big jump for us. We normally play places like this.”
Your background singers think you’re a pervert. Was it your idea to put The Bird and The Bee underwear out for sale?
“No, it’s not, actually! They’re bigger perverts than I am.”
When you’re programming, do you Ableton Live? What’s the secret of getting your sound?
“I use Logic in the studio. I use Ableton for live shows.”
You’re a very accomplished musician. How long have you been playing?
“My whole life. Since I was five. Everything. Guitar, bass. Jazz Composition. All that.”
Do you assist with the lyric writing at all?
“Not really. I did write one lyric. I wrote the fucking in “Fucking Boyfriend.”
What are you listening to?
“I listen to all kinds of pop songs and weird sixties music… everything, it’s all over the map. That’s a big thing that we both love, definitely a big influence.”
TBATB were tired. So was I. Happy-tired. I thanked Serena for the spontaneous connection. Today, she sent me an e to say hey.
And that’s everything.
Email THEFMLY.COM to get involved. Send a demo; they hunt for new talent.