Friday night marked both my first visit to Pehrspace and AAN’s first visit to Los Angeles. The small Echo Park club is more art space than a music venue. The moment I walked through the door, ghouls stared down at me from walls covered in black paint, creating a nightmarish mural that spans the entirety of the space. An eclectic crowd, ranging from hippies to hipsters, and even a dog, congregated in the middle of the room, sipping from 40s and flasks and bottles of wine they brought from home. The scene brought me back to my college years of BYOB basement shows. Despite the club being all ages, nobody looked underage.
The music goers on the warm October night were seasoned, knowing the nooks and crannies of the Los Angeles music scene. Although AAN had never been to L.A. before, they managed to pull a decent crowd, with the help of a few local acts. People trickled in and out during the night, keeping the room at a constant crowd of about 30 (which filled it up near capacity), everyone squished on a potholed, cracked concrete floor with a “stage” that was distinguished by a dilapidated line of red paint, scuffed from all of the shoes that did not adhere to its ruling.
When AAN hit the stage, everyone gravitated to, and past, the red paint, instantly entranced by this band many had never heard. The foursome’s bright presence and instant gratitude for everyone who showed up was enough to get the crowd to stay and listen, despite the fact that it was 12:30 am. As soon as the Portland-based quartet hit the first note of its opener, “Wet and Dripping,” the audience’s eyes stayed glued on the musicians for the rest of the night. The band’s live sound was so dynamic and diverse, ranging from reverb-drenched psychedelic to loud, raw rock ‘n’ roll, it was not hard to keep a crowd’s attention.
Band founder, vocalist/guitarist Bud Wilson, began producing music under the moniker AAN (Amor Ad Nauseum) in 2006, and what started out as a bedroom project expanded to a three-piece including vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Reese Lawhon in 2008. The stage chemistry between Wilson and Lawhon was undeniable. When the two started playing, they were on the same wavelength, feeding off each other’s energy as they strummed and sang beautiful harmonies together.
Last February, the band recruited Portland-based drummer Jon Lewis, and most recently, the trio became a quartet with the acquisition of a second guitarist and vocalist, Brandon Laws (Hosannas), and AAN was able to round out harmonies and fill its sound, creating beautiful soundscapes that clashed with the macabre artwork behind the musicians.
Wilson and company ended their unfortunately short 40-minute set with two singles that comprise a 7,” which the band recorded in the spring. The first, “Somewhere’s Sunshine,” is a funky, soulful tune that accentuates the four-piece’s ability to nail a harmony, and the second, “Haunted, Million Ways,” is a digressive pop-turned-ambient song, showcasing AAN’s realm of sound in a mere five minutes. At the end of the set, Wilson told everyone he wanted to give them hugs and thanks for coming out to the show, to which multiple attendees responded with, “your set was so, so great,” and a love affair between AAN and LA was born.For those of you Californians who are not in the Los Angeles area, catch AAN in San Diego October 16th, Santa Barbara the 18th, San Francisco the 19th and/or Sacramento the 21st, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for a full-length debut at the beginning of 2012.