Prior to this Thursday, I hadn’t been to the Wiltern since 2008. I’m not sure what caused me to overlook the ornate venue for so long, but its velvet-seated balcony and elegantly decorated walls and ceilings provided a cool contrast to LA punks FIDLAR‘s opening performance. Playing old and new tracks from their recently released EP, Shit We Recorded In Our Bedrooms, it took the pit less than a minute into the set to start moshing and rocking out. But seemingly just as soon as it started, the head-banging, running, and shoving dissolved into dancing, swaying, and clapping as Delta Spirit appeared on stage.
When I initially heard that Delta Spirit and FIDLAR were touring together, I thought it an odd pairing — San Diego indie rock that touches on love, loss, and politics mixed with Los Angeles grunge punk that sings the true rock anthem of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll — but alas, any doubts were squelched with Delta Spirit’s whole-heartedly invested performance.
Frontman Matt Vasquez worked the crowd with a balance of charm and performance, keeping the audience involved by cueing clapping and rocking out so hard overall that I thought he was going to knock himself right off his feet. One fan even braved crowd surfing, not something I’d imagine seeing at a Delta Spirit show, but their performance was unexpectedly explosive and an experience not to be missed.
Vasquez thanked FIDLAR for their set and dedicated “Bushwick Blues” from History From Below to them. This was followed by a howling intro reminiscent to that of The Clash’s “London Calling,” and the band dove right into “People C’mon,” a personal favorite track of mine that I feel best exemplifies Vasquez’s gritty vocal range and that was most effective in getting the crowd moving.
Delta Spirit closed out their main set with heavy applause and cheering from the audience, which was followed by proper encore protocol clapping, which transitioned into the “one more song” chant, then to stomping, at which point even I thought the band may not come back. Finally (right around the time of the stomping) Delta Spirit took the stage again, re-opening with “Children,” a track that showcases the group’s lyrical strength, followed by the ever-appropriate “California.” At this point, Vasquez thanked the crowd for being “the best of the tour.” Vasquez’s harmonica was back for the band’s final song, “People Turn Around,” which cued lighters from the crowd and concluded the evening with the same exemplary musicianship that started it.
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