On Friday, I went to two in-stores. The first was Dustin Wong at Vacation Vinyl on Sunset. You might remember Dustin from Ponytail, who I interviewed way back in GR57. That band was all about loopy rhythms and crazy energy, but the guitarist's solo work is trippier and more primal. One might say it's less sugar-loaded and more stony. But he's no one-man-jam-band. How he keeps up with the loops, delays, and effects is beyond me, and I would have hurt my head trying to figure them out if the pieces weren't so full of solid hooks and precise melodies. He's not just fucking around.
It's trippy to watch the video accompaniment that comes with the double CD from Thrill Jockey but actually even more captivating to watch him pull it off live. Amazing. I was bummed to recently inform him that his article didn't make it into GR68 because we ran out of space and that I was pushing it back because I didn't want to chop it down too much. Luckily, he was super understanding. And I actually have a whole slew of new questions after watching the live set… Super friendly and talented dude with light years of upside. Check out Dustin when he comes to your town.
My next step was picking up Eloise and then Wendy and trekking across town to GR2 on Sawtelle to catch The Slants. Playing for audiences at both anime conventions and SXSW, the Portland band calls its brand of synth pop “Chinatown Dance Rock.” To make new wave comparisons, I would say their acoustic set is like The Call or maybe The Fixx–unironic and straightforward, pretty much rock-like in its delivery.
It isn't easy for a band that usually plays through amps and mics to sit on chairs without speakers, effects, spotlights, or even a stage, but they powered through a short, strong set combatting both drizzling weather (typical for them, severe for us L.A. residents) and the Qbert in-store at Amoeba (which even I would have gone to if the Slants weren't at GR2). I think it was their driver, who you can see outlined through the window, who was making sure that passers-by knew about the free show.
No, Eloise didn't really need her headphones to get through the unplugged set. It was fun to see and an honor to finally meet such super nice guys and big-time supporters of GR mag. Hope the rest of their tour was awesome, and that they don't kill each other before the next album comes out! People can debate vinyl vs. MP3s until their tongues dry up and become beef jerky, but free shows can't be beat. I missed SISU at Origami the next evening because I got sick, but will definitely get better in time for OFF! back at Vacation.