It’s Friday night, I’m standing in The Satellite in Silverlake, and Nashville’s Kopecky Family Band has just finished their incredible set. The crowd is cheering around me, and the stage is in absolute disarray. Shakers, tambourines, and noisemakers are strewn about in a cluttered mess. A few trombones have been unceremoniously dropped at the foot of Gabe’s microphone stand, and the other instruments are just around. An accordion, xylophone, cello, synth, and guitar after guitar after guitar. Walking in tonight, I had a vague notion of the group’s instrumentality (they are coming from the Music City, after all), but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer energy that matched their skill. Kopecky Family Band is great.
The night began with Thrillionaire, an energetic four-piece with a garage-rock sound and a Russian fur hat. The band was loud, their style was cool, and as the audience members poured in, they were immediately met with a wall of noise.
The next act, calling themselves Bitch In Stereo, shared Thrillionaire’s hour. Although this was their first show ever, they were pretty subdued, with dull blue lights dousing them for their entire set. The female electric guitarist sat on the floor for most of their four songs, while guest pianist Joaquin Phoenix kept his hood up, his sunglasses on, and his back to the audience for most of the set. Living in LA is always a trip.
The final opening act was The Broken Numbers Band, an amazing Southern rock group complete with banjos, slides, and an organ. They had such an excellent vibe, and their music got the crowd dancing. The hipster capitol of the world had a little mini-hoedown on Friday night, and it was all thanks to Broken Numbers Band. I would certainly make an effort to see them again, and they were a perfect segue to the headliners of the night, Kopecky Family Band.
The Nashville six-piece has been touring seemingly nonstop for the past five years, having released three EPs and recently a full-length album, but this show was monumental in that it marked their first performance as a headliner in Los Angeles. Having been touring as furiously as they have, for as long as they have, they were able to travel across the country and have a devoted fan base singing along and knowing their musical cues to clap, snap, and “la la la.” You could tell Kopecky and “family” were feeding on the excitement of the crowd, which just further fueled the band’s energy, which just further thrilled the crowd. It was like being in a feedback loop of love.
Kopecky Family Band’s musical style is hard to pin down. Sometimes they have a chamber pop thing going on, other times Southern rock, and still others pure folk. Although sometimes reminiscent of other “guy/girl vocalist” bands, such as Stars or Arcade Fire, neither of those comparisons fully describes what the Family Band is up to. Highlights of the night included “Heartbeats,” the first single from their new album, Kids Raising Kids, and a great, fun song with a danceable drumbeat groove. Howlin’ at the Moon was another incredibly energetic track, with Markus on cello creating a sweeping backdrop to Gabe’s howling.
As I mentioned before, one of the most impressive aspects of this band was the multi-instrumentalist nature of the entire ensemble. Corey would pass his bass to either Markus or Kelsey, one of the two lead vocalists. He would then pick up a guitar (or trombone!), joining Gabe (the other lead singer) in creating an off-the-cuff horn section. Kelsey played keys and sang mostly, but wasn’t opposed to grabbing a bass, accordion, or even a drum if the song needed it. The lead guitarist, Steven, spent one exciting song switching between his guitar responsibilities and joining the drummer, David, on a floor tom, creating a cool syncopation. Every member of the band contributed to this sense of “play what you can grab,” and the whole thing felt loose and fun while keeping the music tight.
Although no one in the Kopecky Family Band is technically related, by the end of the night, we really did feel like a family. I danced with strangers, sang until my throat was hoarse, and swayed along as Kelsey, with her arms outstretched, sang of love. It was a night to remember, with one of the most memorable moments for me happening off stage, actually. The gentlemen standing next to me turned to me after a particularly energetic song, just smiled and yelled, “It’s so cool to see a band like this that you just know in a year will be huge!” I couldn’t have said it better myself, stranger. I couldn’t have said it better myself.