Radiohead brought down the curtain in grand fashion on their California jaunt of their brief A Moon Shaped Pool tour–a headlining set up north at Outside Lands festival, bracketed by a pair of relatively intimate shows here at the Shrine Auditorium, the second of which took place this past Monday evening.
The beloved iconic English act have always had a special relationship with L.A., dating back to their early days on Capitol Records, going on to record music here, play epic Hollywood Bowl shows (and one famous tiny charity concert), frontman Thom Yorke basing his Atoms for Peace project here and occasionally spotted at one of the hipper electronic music nights around town. Add to this the fact that tickets to the shows for this modest sized venue (capacity just over 6,000, compared to about three times that for the NYC shows at MSG two weeks ago) were incredibly difficult to come by, the jammed on-sale back in March causing a minor ripple of outrage across online channels (Yorke himself expressing frustration at the time) and it was all but expected that the band would bring a little something extra to the this pair of shows.
Photo by Sung. Full set here.
A mild Summer evening treat, The National passed through town not on any particular album tour cycle, performing to a sold out Greek Theatre Thursday. (They’ll also trek north to that other Greek Theatre in Berkeley.) The stalwart American 5-piece by now cuts a familiar shape on stage – the Dessner twins, Bryce and Aaron, on guitars at either side, the Devendorf brothers, Scott and Bryan, the rhythm section at center, and singer Matt Beringer, either pacing the width of the stage or hunched over and clamped down two-handed on mic, plus a pair of brass and keyboard players at the back filling out the sound.
Live, The National, render their elegant slow simmer rock – lucid guitar lines, intricate drum patterns, Beringer’s imagist, often rueful lyrics crooned in his baritone – faithfully, adding just enough fire over the recorded versions. Drawing mostly from their last two albums for 4AD, High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me, as well as a healthy dose of new material, they pulled an uncommon amount of reverence from an audience that pounced on tickets to the quick selling show (their followers have expanded to well beyond the expected stylish, bookish faithful to bring in the casual fan, the curious, some of whom cannot shut up for five minutes during the quieter ones). Overall, there’s a nice near-equal appreciation for the more rocking louder ones – “Sea of Love”, “Terrible Love”, “Squalor Victoria” – as well as the quieter ones – “Sorrow”, “I need my girl”, a show ending unamplified acoustic “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” sing along.
Photo by Sung
Their very name, their album art – photos referencing art and archeological artifacts, framed with stark serifed text – and oblique song titles – “Alta,” “Vesta,” “Onsra,” for example – may give off a sort of sterility or coldness, but in fact there’s a comfort and warmth, even a playfulness, to the pop of Fear of Men, even more so live, as evidenced at their show Sunday night at The Echo.
Fear of Men | fearofmen.co.uk
A sellout gig at the Echoplex on a weeknight where the choices in music around town are free and plentiful – Local Natives up on a Silverlake rooftop, Mayer Hawthorne at the Santa Monica Pier, Poolside at the Hammer – hints at the sort of fervor Mitski is stirring in certain quadrants these days.
It’s easy to be at least somewhat skeptical of alt outlet encomiums piling up for her new album, Puberty 2. She gives good interview, slipping into pull-quote-friendly think-piece-speak rather naturally. The pieces tend to touch on broader topics including things like race, gender and agency – not typical pop music chit chat. Paralleling the intellectualizing and contextualizing of her career and music, though, there’s her relatable everywoman Twitter presence – smart small observations, a comical voice, occasionally self deprecating, few caps – that has helps forge that deeply felt connection with her audience, supplementing her often diary like lyrics. Two strains of media – one verbose, one limited to 140 characters – come together around her and her music in a fairly novel way. She seems of, for and by these overmediated, overanalyzed times…
By rights, I should not be into Beach Slang, and not be here for their packed Troubadour show tonight. I’m too old, nor a hardcore scene elder, don’t skate, not all that angst ridden (more into existential despair these days) and not a particularly huge Replacements fan. And yet, suckered in by their excellent 26-minute debut record, its fiery energy, its smart cover art, and admittedly, just the all-around cool style of James Alex, I came out for the gig, and here I am, feeling it.