Sunday, 19 February 2012

LA Report: Strange Boys + Reigning Sound

This event seems ages ago to me now. So much has happened since, so many adventures. Nevertheless, I think I should tell you about my first evening in LA real quick, when we went to see Strange Boys and Reigning Sound at Alex's Bar in Long Beach.

I have only seen Long Beach by night and off-season. But I have a feeling it's not my kind of place. There is nothing particularly wrong with it, a lot of yachts, youth hanging out bored outside the SevenEleven, girls in short skirts queuing for a restaurant spot. But it's a world I just don't really feel home in, if you know what I mean. 

Anyway, the bar was in the predominantly Latino part of town, definitely more up my street. We had some good Mexican junk food first, then went to the concert. Alex's Bar is actually your average kind of garage rock / rockabilly venue, with kitsch pictures on the walls, a big bar and people dressed accordingly. Let's just say, we felt home immediately albeit slightly out of place since we a) didn't look like garage rock kids and b) were in the minority as we were there to see Strange Boys rather than Reigning Sound or one of the other two garage bands (of which one was British, to our surprise).

Strange Boys started the set playing most of their newly written material that out due later this year. They've toned it down a notch, the songs are less catchy and more melancholic. Not bad, mind you, but less aimed at a live audience I think. With more than half the audience very drunk and expecting some serious garage rock, Strange Boys weren't faced with the most appreciative audience overall. However, those that had tracked out to LB for these cute Texans were making sure to show their support and the gig was actually quite nice, if not at all comparable to their set in Berlin two years ago. By the end of the set, they dug out more of their older upbeat material, making sure not to play Be Brave. We really enjoyed ourselves but were thinking it would have been more fun in a different setting. I did also miss the saxophone a bit, I never thought you'd ever hear those words from me, but it's true.

Reigning Sound are some sort of heroes of garage rock and had the audience rocking the minute they entered the stage. Their very charismatic singer makes for a great show but overall, the rawness is missing. They are tight as f**k and don't really rock out but stick to what they know - playing instruments. It's kind of what you wish a lot of indie bands would do but with garage rock, you sort of want dirt and rock and show. It was good but it wasn't Thee Oh Sees at West Germany, if you know what I mean. The highlight of their set came when they asked a friend onstage to jam with them. She had rhythm flowing through her veins, and for that one song, the band really loosened up and the audience went with it.

A good night out that enhanced my Cali trip. But I cannot wait for Strange Boys to return to Berlin in April.

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