A seasonal downpour and my first ever subway
ride in L.A. brought us to The Henry Fonda Theatre right on
time to catch a show I've been waiting on for months. This venue
has changed drastically since my last visit, getting rid of
the theatre seating in favor of an open floor with balcony seating
only. The venue was mostly full when we arrived, and Califone
has just started their set.
Standing under the balcony, the sound was incredibly muffled
and flat but walking out on to the floor brightened it up plenty
and the sound was great. Califone, who's first Thrill Jockey
record comes out the next week, played mostly older songs from
their Perishable releases Roomsound and the collection
of EPs Sometimes Good Weather.... They are a country/bluegrass-based
experimental band from Chicago formed from the remnants of Red
Red Meat. They use everything from violin to banjo and electric
guitars combined with dual drummers, who add even more complex
rhythms behind simple county melodies.
They played several new songs, which were all well received.
Even though a large percentage of their songs are incredibly
lethargic, they advisably keep their live show more upbeat.
All the new songs except Slower Twin, which only developed
slowly, kept the crowd going and wanting more. Since the last
time i saw them, their sound has become more electric, and consequently
louder and more dynamic. And unlike previous tours, they have
begun to experiment more with sound and feedback. I can't recommend
going to see Califone enough.
The Sea & Cake brought their interesting brand of indie oriented
jam sound to the floor and the crowd danced into the night.
They had the normal band set up with guitar, bass, drums, and
programmer/keys in the background. I actually really wasn't
expecting an indie dance show, and all of the people i went
along with felt a little let down by the show. We were expecting
to see a Tortoise-esque show of complex prog jazz post-rock,
but instead we got a Phish-like happy good time jam performance
complete with girls dancing around barefoot and yes, even spinning.
Even so, the music was decent, and at least the songs were not
fifteen or twenty minutes long like they would have been at
a real Phish show. As their set approached it's end, the songs
and approach changed and it was a lot easier to enjoy. Stronger
hooks certainly played a part in the change of general feeling.
Early songs seemed to just progress, whereas the later songs
went somewhere interesting musically. My friends who were big
fans even mentioned to me how much more they enjoyed the last
songs than the early part of the show.
I'd say that this was an average show, complete with raving
lunatic-fringe hipsters and drunkards along with quality music
and a great atmosphere to balance it all out. The real downer
for the night for me was the Sea & Cake's performance. I guess
there's a void in touring jam bands at the moment, and i already
know people dropping out to follow The Sea & Cake around the
country.... Just kidding! I'd recommend seeing this tour at
least to see Califone, then you can take an extra long smoke
break between bands and catch the second half of the Sea & Cake's