Henry Rollins: Keep Talking, Pal

Hope from the hot animal machine

February 19th, 2019
Lex Voight

Growing up in DC as a quiet, angry, alienated teen with an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and an obsessive interest in music, my discovery of the oeuvre of Henry Rollins, renaissance man, was something of a revelation. My first encounter of him was actually through the cinematic medium–popping up in bit parts like Bad Boys 2 or Johnny Mnemonic or a handful of other roles, knowledge of him happened almost through osmosis before a school administrator I was friendly with placed “Smile, You’re Traveling” in my hands.
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Celebrating John Williams @ WDCH

The LA Phil Goes to the Movies!

January 30th, 2019
Melissa Karlin
Category: Review

Sitting in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, listening to the LA Phil led by Gustavo Dudamel perform a series of John Williams’ compositions, I realized something. John Williams has scored my life and the lives of countless others. It’s the music of memories. Collectively, the audience sat entranced, drawn in by a whole orchestra breathing life into these iconic scores and themes. Think of the theme from “E.T.”, “The Raiders March”, “Jurassic Park” or “Harry Potter.” They all go beyond the screen and into the mind. It became clear as the concert progressed that it is hard to separate the images from the music and the music from the images.

And so this 3-show series is smart; it utilizes the visuals only when it wants to. This allowed us, the audience, to engage in different ways and that act affects the audience on multiple levels. It revealed Williams’ contrasts, his variations, and penchant for exploring and pushing the limits of film music but most importantly, presented him as the King of the Theme.

The show began with his “Olympic March” and immediately it created an otherworldly feeling of watching TV. As if I’m sitting on a sofa, watching the stats of people much younger and more physically talented in every possible way in a replay doing moves I will never be able to do. Images of these sport stars and their Herculean feats (plus a really intense curler) were the blast off to a concert of pure drama and imagination.

Next came Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a stark contrast to the prior commercial enterprise entry. The arrangement was elastic, beginning Avant Garde with symphonic noise before morphing into hopeful, romantic melody. It was something coming into focus, like a mountain that keeps appearing in the mind, and finally, it is right there, turning chaos into sense. This is also the moment, when I began to cry. There was something about this arrangement, a condensed version of everything I love about this score, and hearing it performed in this way, it just made me tear up. It’s the power of John Williams.

From here we went out to sea with a jaunty fugue from “Jaws,” because why do the main theme when you can twist it up a little and explore other elements of the score. But enough about killer sharks, it was time to hang with our good friend Harry Potter for a set of three pieces. In the performance of “Hedwig’s Theme” there was a nuance revealed throughout the performance. The way in which a little light string wistfully breezes in: it is arrival personified. Then it was Fawkes theme, a less obvious choice, which showed off Williams’ penchant for wonder. But it was the performance of “Harry’s Wondrous World” that showcased everything. This piece is a collection of things colliding. Proper announcing English horns, Hungarian Rhapsodies and American film music all coming together and looping between in texture and form.

Then, a perfect choice for Holocaust Remembrance Day*, came a little “Schindler’s List”. Soloist Simone Porter cued up that sad violin and broke all our hearts with her performance. But don’t worry, then it was back to Universal Studios for “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”, a theme that just screams “THE MOVIES!”

Now, I love Hook as much as the next 90s kid, but “Return to Neverland” is the one piece in the program that didn’t quite make sense to me. As this is a retrospective, why not include one of his jazzier themes like “Catch Me If You Can” or “The Terminal”? This theme is in the same vein as a Harry Potter or an E.T. and ultimately was a beautiful performance, but to include something from a totally different genre of film would have rounded out the selections.

Off to another island filled with danger, wonder and kids getting into a trouble, it was time to take a little trip to “Jurassic Park.” When watching a single French horn player begin this piece, with a kind of call to the rest of the orchestra, it becomes clear how expressive this theme really is. It’s quiet and then immediately bombastic and confident; the whole orchestra just bouncing back and forth between phrases.

Another set of three selections, the “Motorcyle Scherzo” from Last Crusade began the adventures of Indiana Jones. This choice was inspired. The Last Crusade is one of Williams’ most well rounded and joyful scores, and damn it, it does not get enough attention for being great. From there we were all romanced by “Marion’s Theme” and enthralled with “The Raider’s March” as clips from the first three movies played above the orchestra. This montage showcased much to my amusement, a healthy amount of the greatest chick in the bizz: Marion Ravenwood. Because the LA Phil gets it. Next up was an expressionistic performance of “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha headed by cellist Robert deMaine.

Then the moment all the kids were waiting for: Star Wars. This 3-piece finale to the program featured another inspired selection of works from a vast catalogue. Beginning with “The Imperial March”, then “Yoda’s Theme” and ending with the “Throne Room and Finale” …it was, dare I say, magical. The screen above was a montage of moments from all eight main line Star Wars movies, cut to the pacing of the orchestra. This projection started off so classic though that it was a mild shock to the system when suddenly Ewan McGregor appeared. I must admit, though at first I found myself thinking, “ugh the prequels and no Jimmy Smits in sight!” it was then quite a joy to see Poe Dameron up on screen because Poe Dameron can show up anywhere and the world is suddenly a brighter place.

The show ended with a surprise two encores, one a beautiful and emotional relatively new arrangement called “Adiago from The Force Awakens” and “Superman!” Because remember, John Williams also wrote the theme to Superman! Most exciting of all, the man himself, John Williams was there, sitting in the audience like a proud father. When he walked to the stage at the end of the show with Dudamel, there was so much joy radiating throughout the concert hall. We were lying witness to a living legacy as the LA Phil revealed why on a deeper level, this kind of celebration of film music is important, entertaining and moving.

Learn More about the LA Phil

*This review is in reference to the Sunday Jan 27, 2019 show.
Images from the Saturday Jan 26 performance and are by Ryan Hunter.

Hailey Knox LAMB Sesh

From tweet to tour

January 27th, 2019
Lex Voight
Category: Lead Story, Video

Hailey Knox’s star is in ascendant. The Youtuber who gained recognition through retweets of a cover of “No Sunshine” has recently released her Hardwired mixtape and is gaining momentum fast. Poised, composed, and brimming with nearly uncontainable talent, she stopped by to do a quick LAMB session a while back and we are stoked to be featuring such an impressive pop songstress. Check out the video after the jump.
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2018: The Year Emo Went Inward

Navel-gazing with the 00’s Emo crowd

January 20th, 2019
Lex Voight

Emo has always been somewhat of a inward-looking genre. From Rites of Spring, to Capn’ Jazz to American Football to the emo boom of the mid 00’s, the genre has seemingly always been identified by the feelings of the lyricist, acting as something of an avatar for the audience to project on to and through. But rarely, perhaps with the exception of the self-parodying song names of bands like Fall Out Boy or Panic! At the Disco, has emo gotten as obviously meta and self-legacy aware as we saw from 2018, for both good and ill.
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Snapcase @ the Observatory

A night of unlearning

Lex Voight

With the number of times I can call a band “legendary,” one might think that the hardcore scene is nothing but legends. But here again, is the monicker accurate for the Buffalo hardcore stalwarts Snapcase. Gather together a large group of the bands who have influenced the most recent crop–your Converges, your Modern Life is Wars, your Have Hearts–and ask them the bands that influenced them. Nine times out of ten, Snapcase would be name dropped. The Victory band’s Lookingglassself and Progression Through Unlearning are seminal hardcore touchstones–eternal classics that cemented their legacy in the hardcore hall of legends. This was hardcore approached in a new way–angular, intelligent but lacking none of the brutality of their peers. This was a new way of doing things that created a sea change in the scene at the time and spread their influence beyond the confines of the genre.
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On Jeff Goldblum and the Myth of Hollywood

A joyful emcee and a night of jazz

December 26th, 2018
Lex Voight

Growing up, those of us who don’t live in or near LA are taught, through media, two opposing myths of Hollywood. The first is an unattainable dream–an olympian pantheon where heirs and heriesses mingle with publicly worshipped demigods. Where socialites and producers clink champagne glasses in ostentatious Gatsby-like homes. It of a world apart–above and away from the cares and worries of the real world, untouched and unsullied by plebeian influence. The other is the jaded nightmare of hollywood–the crabs-in-a-bucket competition, the horrors of the casting couch and backroom deals, the narcissism and desperate pandering. And both, while true in degrees, whats struck me most after living here for the majority of a decade is not witnessing either of these opposing worlds, but in the mundanity of the wide liminal space between dream and nightmare.
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Emma Ruth Rundle at The Echo

Dark and dreamy and just right

December 18th, 2018
Lex Voight

Living in the modern world can be a horror. War, famine, disease, corruption, impending economic and environmental disaster, technological dissociation…its all there. But music and art have continued to proliferate at such an exponential rate that we are getting some of the best songs ever written at an increasing rate. As genre’s twist and co-mingle and meld, we are getting genres like “gothic americana” and “dark folk” that somehow also manage to rub up against drone and doom.
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Atreyu at the House Of Blues

The Curse is still as strong as ever

Lex Voight

Metlacore megastars Atreyu recently wrapped up their headlining tour with a hometown show in Anaheim, putting their electric rock n roll showmanship on full display. They ran through their classic hits with heavy doses from their new record showing that, despite not having invented the genre, they still are one of Metlacore’s prime purveyors. Check out the photos after the jump.
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