Fol Chen and Sister Crayon Light Up The Echo


Last night, The Echo was for lovers. Couples held hands, sat in each other’s laps, and held each other up as they swayed to a melee of electronic and live sounds coming from the stage. It was the last night of Fol Chen’s Monday night residency at the venue, and the dance floor was packed with couples and small groups of people for Sister Crayon, the band preceeding Fol Chen. When Sister Crayon, took the stage, I was charmed by lead singer Terra Lopez’s relaxed manner onstage. She thanked us for being here, asked us how we were feeling, and when someone asked how she was feeling she laughed, surprised. “No one ever asks us that question!” She admitted.

But when she began to sing and fiddle with an unusual array of electronic devices, she transformed into an incredibly magnetic frontwoman. The first song they played nearly knocked me down with the intense, eerie mood it created. With three synth/keys players and both live and electronic drums, there was no limit to the variety of sounds that Sister Crayon produced. At times they gave me goosebumps with haunted trip hop, at others breaking my heart with Terra’s soulful, Bjork-like intonations and timbre. Her voice could go from airy to rich and moody, and I was reminded of Portishead‘s eponymous album. Sister Crayon will be touring the West Coast in the coming weeks, and they will be returning to Los Angeles on October 13th to play The Bootleg Theater with El Ten Eleven. Give them some love so that they keep coming back!

Fol Chen‘s electric new-wave pop complimented the brooding freak beats of Sister Crayon quite nicely, further packing the dance floor.  Adorned in bright red retro-futuristic uniforms, the headlining band began as a four-piece ensemble and eventually added two other members for a song or two near the end of the set. The core members of the band included a drummer, a trumpet/bass playing vocalist, a female vocalist/keys player, a male vocalist on acoustic guitar, and another male vocalist. It was an unusual line up, but after seeing them play last night it’s clear that Fol Chen is a band that is anything but usual. “Our drummer wrote the set list but then immediately deviated from it. So, we’re flying blind!” joked the acoustic guitar player. I sure couldn’t tell, because every member was just as talented individually as they were as a cohesive group. Every vocalist had at least one song that they sang solo, and when they added another voice, then another, then another, the harmony lush and brilliant. Everyone’s voice was very different from one another, but the combination was beautiful and at times, wistful. It’s hard to put a name to the style of music they played, because they dabbled in pop, rock, melo pop, and dance. But that’s okay, because Fol Chen strikes me as a band that understands its own uniqueness and revels in it, having no problem continuing to defy and transcend traditional genres and their audience’s expectations.

Fol Chen will be touring nationally September through November, and you can get their latest EP The Longer U Wait for FREE on their Myspace page.