I have been remiss in my duties as a music lover and a native Los Angeleno. Nico Vega was a name I’d always heard tossed around with positive reinforcement, but for some reason had slipped through my curiosity meter.
Dressed as members of the chorus from Jesus Christ Superstar, the band took the stage in the afternoon sun and spread the good word. They make a lot of noise for having only three people on stage, and they infuse the air around with a curiously spiritual musical energy.
Whether banging on toms, busting a tambourine or striking a various number of iconic poses, Aja Volkman held command of the stage. And if it makes you feel any better, their whole dusty space age get up is not an onstage persona, but something they carried with them throughout the festival, whether chatting on cell phones or smoking weed out of a can in the pit for MUTEMATH’S performance. Trust me.
If you’ve been like me and neglected to check out Nice Vega, remedy this as soon as possible. And if you’re all, Duh man I’ve been listening to them forEVER, then why on Earth didn’t you tell me?!
Life can’t be easy for the opening festival acts. Hardly anyone is ready to trudge out to the stages by noon, so audiences are limited, worsening an already un-ideal situation for musicians, a breed not accustomed to operating at full until well past sunset. However, if Asobi Seksu was fatigued they didn’t show it (although lead singer and keyboardist Yuki Chikudate did mention it).
They graced the blazing festival sun with loud, eerie rock that shook lazy day three festers out of the midday slump. A wake up call in many respects, Asobi Seksu held one of the most unexpectedly successful shows the weekend.
It was clear that much of their audience was accidental, comprised of cries new arrivals wondering what that magical sound could be emanating from the other side of the Hampton Inn. What began as a smattering of curious onlookers quadrupled into a crowd of fans, which is exactly the kind of exposure you expect and hope for at a festival.
Most likely they were all wondering how somebody no bigger than a cat can contain such power and presence, leading the band with the ease of a long time heavy hitter like Patti Smith.
Perhaps, like a cat, Chikudate has been doing this for many lifetimes.
“Give me rhythm!” and “Are you with me?!” are the Southern rock mantras of Cowboy Mouth’s live show. Billed as the festival’s biggest local draw, the New Orleans based quartet seriously, yet amicably rose the the challenge of acquiring dozens legions more unlocal fans.
Lead singer and drummer Fred LeBlanc, (most NOLA sounding name ever!) sat at the kit in gym shorts, which gave him the appearance of going pants-less. It also enhanced his heartily devil-may-care demeanor. All four rock solidly on their respective instruments and seem to relish in the whole rock starriness of their happy Southern lives. Something about their loud, proud good times had me craving giant belt buckles and hush puppies.
They perform without pretense, just diving into the crowd, pulling people closer to the stage and shouting about having a great time. If Burl Ives’ Big Daddy of Tennessee Williams’ imagination decided to form a touring Southern rock band, it would turn out to be Cowboy Mouth, and it would sound great. Which they do.
De Luna Fest was full of bands stemming from a local heritage, pleased as a peach pie to be laing for a hometown crowd. Colour Revolt was of this ilk, so pleased in fact, that they opened by introducing themselves as “fellow South Easterners.”
Perhaps these guys practiced extra hard to impress the hometown crowd, but my guess is they make a point to play this well every time. You just don’t achieve this level of clickiness by cramming for the test. Barely looking at one another, the band executed tricky rhythms, sudden changes in tone and wildly oscillating noise levels from whisper to explosion.
All pieces of their indie rock puzzle solidly in place at this set, the stand out element lurked in Sean Kirkpatrick’s backing vocals. He offered a delicately nuanced layer to otherwise good, but typical, scenester music.