Last Friday may have been the first day of autumn, but the last day of summer was a couple of days later on Sunday. That’s when TV on The Radio and Arctic Monkeys co-headlined a killer show at the Hollywood Bowl. The historic venue was built on classical and jazz, and typically only books rock shows on special occasions. People still talk about The Beatles, Stones, and Doors gigs there back in the ’60s. Nowadays it’s Radiohead and Pavement, so it was a big deal when a gang of mostly younger bands took the stage to close out the season.
Smith Westerns kicked off the show at the super early hour of six. A tough slot since most fans were probably picking up picnic food at Trader Joe’s on the way to the venue, but the Chicago band powered through a 20-minute sampler of their short-but-solid catalog of proto-glam lo-fi. Pretty cool, but I need to see them at a smaller venue for a real take. Warpaint was next and jammed from the moment the Batcave-like stage spun them to face the crowd until it spun them back. The hometown band was great in it’s trademark folk-meets-goth manner with heavy drums that are as spectacular as the Siouxsie-esque vocals. (I hope the drummer gets a little extra love on the next release…) I caught some of Panda Bear’s set at FYF last year, and this set was way, way better. Two guys behind a table is at least twice as interesting than one to watch, but what if the extra guy is Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3? It was like a passing of the torch from one indietronica/stoner music god from the past to the present. The gorgeous sunset, trippy lights, and post-Beach Boys, dub-infused, analog-tronica made every stoners’ night.
The last time I saw Arctic Monkeys was at Spaceland. I think it was their first U.S. show, and the band looked like a four-piece version of The Jam except for a chubby bass player. Looks like they acquired some new members and a stylist, as well as a string of rad albums since then. The British band is a rare case of kids who get hot fast and stay hot. While the band had the most typical rock band lineup with a sound that is firmly based in the Brit Pop tradition, singer Alex Turner has a really interesting way of singing/enunciating crazy long lines that flow from one choppy lick to the next. Totally cool to see them now, although somehow they managed to not steamroll through their 45-minute set. Although I wondered how TV on The Radio would follow the Arctic Monkeys’ high-energy set, that was not a problem. The last time I saw them at the Bowl, they were beyond capable warm-ups for the much-loved, much-missed Massive Attack. This time they were the returning giants. The Brooklyn band has become an elite group that not only plays a totally unique soul-meets-prog sound but owns the stage with its masterful chops, unstoppable energy, and effortless cool. The songs that are excellent on your headphones are total godhead at a show. Go. See. Them. Now. (And if that’s not enough, they collaborate with Jon Moritsugu and Amy Davis…) After five bands and one encore, everyone left satisfied and ready to let the venue’s season come to an end.
Just down the street from the Hollywood Bowl, Amoeba is another living fixture in L.A.’s musical universe. Last night, Dum Dum Girls played an in-store to celebrate the release of their great new album, Only in Dreams. It must be hard for a band to play in a full-lit room with colorful CDs, LPs, and posters covering every square inch of the walls and racks, but the Dum Dums’ sounded great. It was great to get a free sampler of the group’s expanded, somewhat brighter take on riff-powered garage rock in a live setting. Yes, it will be even better to see them in a darker room with better sound, but this early show was rad and a perfect opportunity to bring my niece Lucia and daughter Eloise to meet Sandy (Giant Robot 68) and the crew…
Seeya at the next show… Eagle Rock Music Festival? Shellac at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts?