Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Travis, The Republic Tigers@ The Wiltern

This was a night of unexpected events:
1. Taking the bus
2. Having Kogi Korean tacos
3. Travis having insane guitar solos
4. Bus being packed at midnight

I was originally planning on taking the Metro to The Wiltern to save some money on parking (public parking prices can be outrageous!). However, my friend decided she was in the mood for Korean tacos that night. Fortunately, the Kogi taco truck ( happened to be parked on Wilshire and Cloverdale that night, so we both ended up taking the bus there. I haven't taken a bus in forever, so it was kind of new to me and she had never taken the bus in LA, so it was completely new to her. The bus got us there within 15 minutes. Kogi hadn't even opened yet and there was already a line. I think over half the people in line were twittering and calling their friends to meet up with them at the truck. Kogi's following is pretty impressive. By the time we got our food (short rib, chicken, spicy pork taco; kimchi quesadilla; Kogi dog. All amazingly good btw) the line was already a block long. We took our food to a Coffee Bean across the street from The Wiltern, bought some tea, and began eating there. Halfway through, we got kicked out because "the establishment is kosher." Coffee Bean is Jewish?? We finished up and went into The Wiltern to get beers and a seat. The beer would've gone perfectly with the tacos. Wish we had them with our food instead of the crappy daily tea at Coffee Bean. I guess there's a reason why those teas are the cheapest drinks on the menu.

The Republic Tigers
were so bland and boring that I started thinking about things I had to do the next day. They were all over the place with their genre of music. It was like they couldn't decide what genre they wanted to be in, so they just decided to try everything unoriginal. On their songs they sounded like they were trying to emulate Joy Division, Alkaline Trio, shoe gaze, 80s music without the catchiness. They did quite a bit of echoing and high pitched singing, which sounded so synthetic. I really disliked it. Then as a last resort, they tried to pull in the crowd by unsuccessfully covering Blondie's Heart of Glass. The lead singer tried to imitate Blondie with a really bad high pitched voice. It was horrendous. I have no idea why he insisted on using it for so many songs because he was really bad at it. Also, why cover a song and make it sound almost exactly the same, but slower and worse?? Why not choose a cover band that shows off the lead singers deep voice? I feel like Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, or The Cure would've been a better choice. It's not that the singer had a bad voice, I just think he didn't utilize it very well. Maybe he wanted to show that he had more of a range: from baritone to squeaky high. Sometimes the music sounded catchy and then got ruined by singing that wasn't going with the same beat or more high echoing voices during the chorus. At one point, I could tell my friend was starting to nod off.

I was expecting them to be pretty mellow because of what their music typically sounds like. That's why we decided to sit this show out. I didn't even realize they used so much electric guitar! They had a fantastic set list that contained all the best songs from their new album (J Smith, Chinese Blues) and all the oldies but goodies (Driftwood, Side, Sing, Why Does it Always Rain on Me). I liked that it wasn't just a list of fan favs, but their favs as well and it was in an order that was related or transitioned extremely well. Also, LOVED the songs where they mixed two songs in one.

Side + Eyes Wide

I couldn't believe they actually played certain songs live. Humpty Dumpty Love Song, for instance, I had always thought might be too sappy to play live, but it was fantastically sweet. Also, the angry part of Slideshow was amazing to hear live!

And that, I can't believe how well they hide him on their albums. He's like their secret weapon! It's as if they just let him loose during live shows. He was insanely good. I never imagined a band like Travis having a guitarist who played solos as if he were in a metal band. He was so rock and roll and just in his own world, which got a bit distracting at times, but he was so good I didn't mind. During their anthem, All I Want to Do is Rock, he climbed on top of a huge amp and started playing a solo with one hand, then behind his head, then jumped off the amp, and kept playing a riff with just one hand. On another song, he even played the guitar against a mic stand!

You would think a song as slow as Falling Down would be difficult to liven up, but Travis was able to do it by weaving through the crowd, serenading fans, and even slowdancing with them! At that moment, I really wished I hadn't decided to sit up in the balcony. I just had no idea a Travis show could be so exciting.

High Note: Travis puts on an electrifying show.
Low Note: Travis didn't play Flowers in the Window. I was really looking forward to hearing that live.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Crime Spree in Candyland @ Crane's Tavern

Made up of some of the former members from the now defunct Bombaster, Crime Spree in Candyland sounds like a darker, moodier, more experimental version of its former Pixies-like self. I think I actually like the new sound more. Bombaster was fun to listen to, but it did sound heavily influenced by The Pixies. CSC sounds much more original and even when they covered two of their Bombaster songs, it sounded like completely new songs. Carlyn's singing has gotten much stronger, probably because she is now more of a lead singer. The sound is cleaner and more professional. The only thing I wasn't a fan of was Xander's singing. It wasn't bad, I just think it fits a certain type of music, but I'm not sure if it's this type.

Crime Spree in Candyland myspace