Phoebe Bridgers @ The Natural History Museum

A hair-raising set surrounded by dead animals

February 13th, 2018
Kyle B. Smith

Phoebe Bridgers haunts me. Her songs tell tales like a series of sad Polaroids strung together. It’s a dose of reality heavy enough to legitimately scare the wits out of you. Delivered with precision and delicacy, the dead calm in her songs also conjures hair-raising moments in her live performances. Never mind that she usually plays in a jet black dress that is worn over a near-transparent complexion, all whilst touring a breakout album that has a spooky ghost on its cover.

Phoebe Bridgers appeared live at the Natural History Museum as part of their wintertime First Fridays series, surrounded by a room full of dead animals. While the lifeless creatures stood still in well-lit diorama scenes, Bridgers opening set stayed the steady course of 2017 LP, Stranger in the Alps – the eight songs in her abbreviated set carried the weight of a delicate thud.

The aptly-named Rob Moose (violin), and local whiz kid producer Ethan Gruska (keys) were Phoebe’s collaborators for the evening. As is usually the case at First Fridays, a chatty and upbeat weekend-ready crowd drowned things out towards the back of the room. But myriad textures came to life closer to the action. From Moose’s plucked violin and Gruska’s subtle ethereal sensibilities, to Bridgers’ own multidimensional vocal spectrum, many moments rang clear as a bell to those paying attention.

The trio took “Scott Street” for a walk early on. The song is about as close as Bridgers treads to euphoria, with a collective walk down that ushered in a heck of a tension and release moment towards the tune’s end. Rob Moose’s string contributions hinted at strains of southern rock, before Phoebe took over with some woo-hoo coo’ing.

An electronic, knob-turning cacophony from Gruska gave way to Bridgers’ stoic delivery of the brutally honest confessional of “Funeral.” More unexpected Dixie-flavored sounds snuck in to the wrenching piece, arguably the best cut off Stranger in the Alps.

Those who have seen Phoebe Bridgers perform over the past year or two may have been caught off guard by the execution of “Georgia.” Once (and perhaps still a little bit) timid, Bridgers can now sing with a newfound command, harnessing power from the depths of her vocal range. As the song kept growing bigger, her voice blossomed with similar gusto. The outro flaunted a masterful intertwining of violin and Phoebe’s confident vocal projection.

Standing perfectly upright, Bridgers sang “Killer” sans guitar, and with her hands held together behind her back. From there, she quietly fell to her knees to tune her guitar, while Gruska and Moose gently volleyed an earthy, ad hoc jam back and forth. This led in to the finale of “Motion Sickness,” and yet another glowing example of Phoebe Bridgers’ less-is-more approach to her art.

Discovered mid-set was a bit of indie rock’s own natural history. Leaning against the wall, engrossed in the performance of one of his de facto protégés, was none other than Bright Eyes himself. He did not come forth to provide vocals on “Would You Rather,” as he did on the album. Instead, Conor Oberst opted to hang quietly to the side of the room, taking a place between other taxidermied creatures of the past, like some sort of diorama of 2005.

Setlist

Smoke Signals
Scott Street
Funeral
Georgia
Would You Rather
Demi Moore
Killer
Motion Sickness

Hippo Campus @ Fonda Theatre

The Minnesota quartet continue to rise

January 30th, 2018
David Fisch

I would suggest that it’s just a matter of time before Minneapolis-based quartet Hippo Campus breaks out, but by the looks and vibes of Friday night’s audience at the Fonda Theatre, I could have mistaken them for already having done so.


Photos by David Fisch

With a full-length under their belt and a score of singles and EP’s in the last few years and, most importantly, a delectable sound that is indie pop at its grandest, they sold out the venue top to bottom and commanded the stage left to right with an energetic performance that could easily pull both adoring fans and newcomers alike.

The band played just over an hour, performing their most popular tracks like “Way It Goes,” “Suicide Saturday,” “Buttercup,” and “Little Grace.” They were also supporting their most recent release, the warm glow EP, performing its three tracks.

The band will be out on the road in the U.S. for the next few weeks, and you can find those tour dates here. Check out the music video to “Buttercup” below.

More info:

Hippos Campus

Destroyer @ The Regent

Singer/songwriter Dan Bejar imbues mystique

January 15th, 2018
David Fisch

A baroque minstrel wandering Earth for the last twenty-plus years, Dan Bejar has crafted some of the most poetic alternative music as his project Destroyer, most recently releasing his 12th studio album ken. With each new set of songs comes a new lens on his introspection of relationships, and that follows through to his live performances.

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La Louma/Object as Subject @ The Satellite

Bitchwave’s first showcase was an enormous success

December 7th, 2017
Lex Voight

Ready or not, the Bitchwave is here to sweep you away. A record label founded for the purpose of fostering and mentoring female and non-binary identifying musicians and bands by members of La Louma and personal favorites Rituals of Mine, Bitchwave held its first showcase the other week at The Satellite, featuring the talents of La Louma and Object as Subject (as well as headliners The Pack AD).
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Ariel Pink @ The Regent

It’s just gonna get weird from here

November 20th, 2017
Melissa Karlin
Category: Review, Staff Pick

HE DIDN’T PLAY “JELL-O.”

I think I’m literally the only person who was disappointed by that fact. I mean, he played other tracks I love like “White Freckles” and “Round & Round.” But not “Jell-O.” And that’s my review.

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Rhye @ Moroccan Lounge

The debut of new songs to swoon to

November 9th, 2017
David Fisch

The downtempo R&B stylings of Rhye were something of an enigma back in the early 2010’s, releasing singles of androgynous vocals and soulful chill with underground raves before finally releasing a full-length LP in 2013 in the form of Woman. With the exception of touring in the following year, Rhye has been fairly quiet – that is, until this year, when the band resurfaced with a similar release strategy that once again began the hype machine of high anticipation, leaning on superb singles that hinted at a brighter energy and expanded scope.

While information of a new full-length follow-up is pending, Rhye will be back on the road with a formally announced tour heading into 2018. In the meantime, though, the LA-based band made a sold-out stop to test new material and perform older songs at the Moroccan Lounge, which is rapidly making the case for becoming LA’s best venue for intimate settings, devoted crowds, and outstanding acoustics.

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Protomartyr @ Moroccan Lounge

Detroit post-punk arrives in LA with precision

October 17th, 2017
David Fisch
Category: Review, Staff Pick

My initial appreciation of Detroit post-punk rockers Protomartyr came upon an album download of Under Color of Official Right and seeing them at the small but hearty Bootleg Theater in Silverlake in 2014, where the musicianship on display was a thing of beauty and leader Joe Casey was drinking beer and wallowing in his precise rants about everyday life. Much was the same at the Moroccan Lounge Monday night, perhaps with an extra case of beer and a few more people, but with two new albums released since then and an even tighter edge and studio-like clarity, the band has sounded better, performed as ferociously, or felt as meaningful as this very moment in time in their existence.

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Preview: Flying Lotus 3D @ Hollywood Forever

The prolific artist brings 3D to the Cemetery

September 28th, 2017
David Fisch
Category: News, Staff Pick

I think I speak for all of us Angeleno musicheads when I say we’re honored to have Flying Lotus call our hometown, well, home. The LA electronic artist and Brainfeeder label mastermind will be back here from two nights in October after debuting an insane interactive 3D concert at this past summer’s FYF Fest. He’s beginning a new North American tour showcasing the set – this time, kicking it off amongst the dead at the storied Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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A Love Letter to Sound and Fury Fest 2017

Sorry it took so long.

September 6th, 2017
Lex Voight

Dearest Sound and Fury,

Its has been months since I have seen you. In the intervening time I have traversed another continent, climbed volcanoes, wound my way through mountains and hills and rainforests, and nearly been trampled by a (baby) elephant but you have never strayed far from my thoughts…
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Festival Review: It’s Not Dead Fest

It’s still very much alive.

August 30th, 2017
Lex Voight
Category: Review, Staff Pick

Every time I head out to San Bernadino, I tell myself it’s the last time. The ride is too long, the traffic too brutal, the parking too difficult, and, despite the invariably amazing lineup, no lineup could be good enough to be worth it all. And every time I am proved wrong.

It’s Not Dead Fest 2 is case and point.
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