Another night, another amazing concert. Let me just start by saying, I never cease to be blown away by the amount of talent abounding in the fine city of Los Angeles. That said, I found myself once again at the always cozy Troubadour this past Saturday night to see Voxhaul Broadcast, Family of the Year, and Lady Danville. I arrived just in time to see Voxhaul Broadcast setting up, and for being about 8:30, the venue was pretty full, especially considering Lady Danville didn’t come on until 10:30ish (especially now that I know what a really empty venue feels like).
Upon entering, I quickly noticed a trend in men’s fashion: those little hats that are like fedoras but not…where the brim stays flipped up the whole way around…the Jason Mraz-y looking hats. (Ah, with a little help from Google, I have figured it out: a Castor Fedora.) Anyways, there were hoards of dudes walking around, all looking curiously similar–white, medium weight, the little hat, a plaid shirt or v-neck, maybe a little facial hair, consistently smiley and bright-eyed. It was like a new breed of hipster: the metro-hipster; the bathed, clean-fingernailed, somewhat-shaven hipster; the strangely approachable hipster. Just, everywhere…
But I digress…
And so the show began, and Voxhaul Broadcast gave an seemingly unsuspecting crowd a taste of their sound. They had a vintage feel made modern by the occasional synthetic sound. Their second song had an unreal bassline; the only way I can think to describe its tempo is “galloping.” It was rhythmic and resonant and gave the song a really interesting sound. As for the sound (I’m still on the baseline here–it was that good), beastly. Loud and roaring and just straight animal. I would marry that bassline if I could. Voxhaul Broadcast reminded me of an early Kings of Leon, alt-y with an honest angst and a lot of power behind their sound. Voxhaul is definitely more of an urban influenced sound than KOL’s Southern influence though. Their songs were full and dynamic, with a more prominent fullness backing the choruses. Towards the end of the set, lead singer David Dennis introduced their punk-influenced song “Cheetah” and gave a little background on it, explaining that it came from a place of anger and crappy relationships. In describing a particular breed of girl, Dennis said, “[they're] too fast to catch, and they’ll f***ing kill you.” The crowd laughed and the band rocketed into the wonderfully loud anti-love anthem. Despite this jagged rager of a song and his quazi-rebellious haircut, Dennis couldn’t conceal what seemed to be an exceptionally sweet demeanor. He stood out as a true engager, a true performer, supported by an equally impressive band (side note: the bassist jammed out looking like Cousin Itt with a perm).
Watching this set, I realized that I had three main requirements to fulfill in order to be deemed “good” (see: rocking, bitching, bad ass, righteous, ill, sick, etc.)
1. Good Vocals: Let’s face it, even if you have the musical chops of Jimmy Page, Travis Barker, and Flea together on a stage, if you have Rebecca Black on vox, you’re going to be standing before of crowd of sour-faced, justified boo-ers.
2. Tempo Changes/Dynamic Songs: Because we’re a technological generation with the attention spans of goldfish conditioned by half-second blips of action. Entertain me, I say! (But, hey, even Beethoven and Gershwin knew to keep things moving).
3. Energy: If you’re trying to get a bunch of indifferent listeners to find enjoyment out of your music, you should be into it too. That’s a given.
As it turns out, Voxhaul Broadcast definitely lived up to these standards, thus I shall deem them “totally awesome.”
Next to subject themselves my three standards (hereinafter referred to as the Golden Three) was Family of the Year. They set up their stage while a Kina Grannis song hummed happily in the background. Lead singer Joseph Keefe, whose blue plaid (cotton, not flannel–very different) shirt hung loose from his body, immediately struck me as a Kurt Kobain look-a-like, except with longer (but still appropriately scraggly) hair. The keyboardist, Christina Schroeter, stood furtively to the side in a dark hooded cloak. Ominous, I know, but it definitely gave her an intriguing and sinister mystique. They began their set, and, dear readers, this is where I fell in love. From the first bass kick to the last cymbal crash, I could not take my eyes off of drummer Seb Keefe. I watched him play with my wide, adoring eyes, glistening in the blue stage light. Watching him drum, if I may be grossly dramatic, was like witnessing the miracle of childbirth. I have seen plenty of enthusiastic, talented drummers perform on stage, but with him it was an experience reborn with fireworks and puppies. This might be partially due to the fact that he was decidedly attractive, but, seriously, he was smiling and thrashing around like some fantastic animal. I would like to extend a personal apology to the rest of Family of the Year, cause I didn’t watch you guys. At all.
Family of the Year
But where I wasn’t watching, I was listening. The band could be easily compared with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (whom they actually toured with) but with a little less folk influence. Joseph Keefe had a refreshingly plain voice, evenly-toned and raw. The songs were fun but emotive, and “Hero” was certainly a crowd favorite. One of the songs had a bassline reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” which made for a groovy time. A guest singer named Natalie joined the Family on stage, and a tambourine jam sesh/Family sing-a-long cheerfully commenced. Needless to say, the Golden Three were met with flying colors. Seb Keefe, if you’re reading this, call me.
Finally, much to the crowd’s delight, the highly anticipated Lady Danville took the stage. Girls shrieked and shouted “DAN I LOVE YOOOUUU” or “MICHAEL HAVE MY BABIES” or “MATT THAT’S A REALLY AWESOME BEARD AND, ALSO, WHERE ARE YOUR DRUMSTICKS? SILLY MATT, DRUMMING WITH YOUR HANDS.” (Ok, so not the last one, but still.) The trio brought their feel-good indie-folk rock into full form, made unique by their emphatically lovable personalities and quirks. Dan sported his usual bowtie and plaid pants, Matt rocked his signature grizzly beard and flannel, and Michael looked particularly huggable in a humorously ugly Cosby sweater. While the boys serenaded a lovingly receptive crowd that knew all the words to every song, I was reminded of the saccharine voice Michael has and of the cleverness of the band. If anything will separate Lady Danville from the legions of other indie-rock bands–all astoundingly musically gifted–it will be the quirk and the personality and the humor injected into not only their songs but their presence and branding. The set included all the goods, including “Tired Magician,” “Spoon,” and their stripped-down cover of MGMT’s “Kids,” to name a few. They debuted a new song that kept in true Lady Danville fashion with its pleasing harmonies and sweetly contemplative lyrics. As for meeting the Golden Three? Duh. Overall, it was yet another awesome night of LA talent, and I so look forward to watching these bands continue to grow.
UPDATE: Want to know where to catch these awesome acts next?
Lady Danville: No upcoming concerts listed. Booo. Check their Facebook for updates though!
Family of the Year: Catch Family of the Year next at Silverlake Jubilee 2011 (5/21-5/22) in Los Angeles! For more details, click here.
Voxhaul Broadcast: See Voxhaul Broadcast (along with Roky Moon & Bolt) in Tempe, Arizona at the Sail Inn at 8pm. For more details, click here. They will also be playing Silverlake Jubilee with Family of the Year!
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