Friday, July 28, 2006

oh grow up already

Opted to 'air myself out' the other night, as my mom used to say. A Promising Local Band was playing at the Silverlake Lounge, and since the last time I saw live music was the Calexico show way back in June I was, by any measure, overdue.

The Silverlake Lounge is a pit, but a curiously charming pit. The barstools have been beaten down under the rumps of so many patrons that the seats have only a paper-thin suggestion of padding. A wooden bench runs along the right hand wall, and if you lean too far back your head rests against a mind-bogglingly filthy acoustic foam. Minor quibbles especially when you consider that rock bars are for rock, which means standing. If you want to sit, go up the block to the soju bar.

With the exception of the usual domestic suspects, most of the beers are Mexican favorites like Tecate and Negra Modelo, reflecting SLL's usual identity as a Latino (latina?) drag bar. Everything is black and coated in an appropriate layer of sweat, grease and man mung, but any negative qualities are forgiven with the sight of the huge electric 'SALVATION' sign glowing over the stage like some musician's ham-fisted dream sequence. I can only assume it stays illuminated on the drag nights as well.

Given the slowly dissipating heat wave, Silverlake Lounge was extra stuffy that night, but in a tragic bit of relief it was so deserted that a small breeze would occasionally stumble through the club's open door.

Wednesday, it seems, is not a good night for the Silverlake Lounge. Those who came out that night to see either Tom Brosseau and his alien pipes or Marjorie Faire and their sleepy Coldplay-lite emptied their drinks and moved on before any band they might not have come to see could take the stage. Welcome to Los Angeles. People have shit to do.

'Crooked Mile,' by Weed Patch
'Ray Charles,' by Weed Patch

They missed out. To be fair, Weed Patch is not 22. They do not feature an accordian or any sort of eastern European accents. They are not particularly waifish and do not hail from Brooklyn, Canada, or any other P-fork endorsed zipcode. They are not at the forefront of any trend, unless you count the 'eclectic americana-based rock and pop noise' trend that's been going on for a decade and a half. The lead singer's voice is not--unless you really, really hate Michael Stipe or Bob Mould--an acquired taste. His lyrics are not tormented. They are not, at least in the indie-cum-blogosphere sense, cool. Which is a shame because what they are, instead, is a Damn Good Band if I do say so my damn self.

They have a couple of different sides at work. "Crooked Mile" is representative of their new CD "Some Kind of Happy" , a blend of "Summerteeth" squeals and sunlit sounds mixed by Centro-Matic's Matt Pence. Straightahead, windows-rolled-down guitar rock with a chorus covered in those things that get stuck on your pantlegs when you go hiking. Sticky stuff, is what I'm saying.

"Ray Charles," on the other hand, while still firmly rooted in the electric alt.whatever guitar pop world, is a little more hazy, a little less linear. Given the title, the song has an appropriately reverent feel, almost like someone's testimony before ascending to a cacophanous three-minute outro hinting at the joyful chaos lurking around the band's fringes, particularly live. Guitar squalls, effects pedals, washes of racket, sweat and electricity. Even a trumpet shoves its way toward the microphone. Bands, like people, only benefit from airing themselves out.

Buy "Some Kind of Happy" from Miles of Music


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