Over the eight months I’ve lived in LA, the Greek Theatre has become a familiar favorite place, second only to my local leather bar and In-N-Out. Is it the simultaneously open and intimate outdoor atmosphere that makes the place so great? Is it the friendly and accommodating staff? The easy access to food and booze? Or is it that every single band I’ve seen there happens to be the tits?
Only the Greek itself knows in what proportions those elements combine to create such a uniquely enjoyable experience, but I’m betting the mix is pretty heavy on that last one. No amount of comfort or acoustics can take the place of quality talent, and from what I saw of the 2013 Greek Theatre season, putting quality talent on the stage is what they do best.
I think I’m the only person in America who isn’t the least bit tired of “Safe and Sound,” Capital Cities’ airwaves-dominating summer hit. That song was my jam all summer and still is, and I really enjoyed the band’s debut album, A Tidal Wave of Mystery. Being the teenaged-groupie-trapped-inside-an-aging-slut’s-body that I am, I have a mad crush on Ryan Merchant, also known as “the one without the beard,” and was just giddy over the prospect of shooting him from scant feet away. Nothing had prepared me for the experience of seeing Capital Cities live, however. Three words: fucking TRUMPET PLAYER!
If my Wikipedia editing privileges weren’t permanently revoked due to my involvement in the Great Twilight Flame Wars of 2009-2011, my first order of business would be to redirect “stealing the show” straight to Spencer Ludwig. He’s the incredibly talented, wildly passionate, totally eye-grabbing guy shredding the trumpet for Capital Cities. His magnetism was such that he actually distracted me from admiring Ryan Merchant from two feet away. And this is what Ryan Merchant looked like Saturday night.
Yeah. That’s how good Spencer Ludwig is. The ass-kicker? He’s only 22, and he’s only been playing the trumpet since he was 17. Hearing him play definitely feels like being in the presence of a prodigy. What a dazzling surprise it was to be so entertained by him, especially in the midst of Capital Cities’ super-fun, super-high-energy performance.
Onstage, Capital Cities is a true grooving ensemble, and the sole criterion for their music appears to be that it feel good. That’s something I can sincerely and unironically get behind — music should feel good! The Capital Cities crowd had more fun than any crowd I’ve been a part of since I moved to LA, and I’ve seen Paul McCartney on Hollywood Boulevard, y’all.
While I thought Two Door Cinema Club lacked the crackling energy of Capital Cities, they were a pleasure to watch, and I eventually made the reluctant transition from CC’s catchy pop hooks to their more progressive rhythms. Lead singer Alex Trimble could pass for the red-headed offspring of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Sting, and somehow it works. The crowd adored them; t-shirts were worn proudly, lyrics were screamed deliriously, and applause was offered generously.
After closing this one out on such a good note, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next season at the Greek. Let’s see…Def Leppard, The Killers, Jackson Browne, and a reunited Pink Floyd? Hey, a girl can dream.