If you were to imagine a small, cool rock club, you will probably come up with something close to The Echo. Its namesake is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Echo Park, which is the epicenter of cool nightlife for a certain set (as dorky as that sounds). I was excited for the show, and apparently so was the rest of the city, as it was sold out. This did not go unnoticed by the band, Cullen remarked at one point: “we played here a year ago and there was 20 people here, we must be doing something right.” It was very crowded in there, I saw Alexander Skarsgard (AKA Eric from True Blood, hey, even guys who play badass brooding vampires on hit TV shows need their indie rock fix) and Kate Bosworth, who was moving through the crowd with all the grace of a drunken sorority girl. After watching the opening band Yuck, who were very solid, from the back, and armed with my camera and my $5 Tecate, I made my way towards the front of the crowd. The Smith Westerns played most of the songs from their new album, and maybe only two songs from their self-titled debut. At one point before playing an older song, "Be My Girl," Cullen prefaced it by saying somewhat derisively, “this is for all you lo-fi fans.” This is a band on the up and up. They closed with their two new singles, "Weekend" and "All Die Young," to the polite applause of the crowd.
It seemed like some sort of arbitrator of what’s cool to do in L.A. decided that this show was that thing on Friday night. The best type of concerts, for me anyway, are ones where everyone drops their facades and has a good time and maybe even dances…this did not really happen at the Smith Westerns show. Something was lacking energy-wise in the Echo. I wouldn’t necessarily blame the band, they sounded good and they looked pretty cool and all, but something was missing. I think the crowd was just a little too apathetic. A band like this needs their crazy, teenage, rager fan base to come represent, instead it seemed like everyone there was too busy “checking in” on Facebook to really drop their guard and enjoy themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a good show. I enjoyed myself and the music was good. This is a band that will not be playing $10 shows at places like The Echo for very much longer. I think they are destined for big things and have the talent to back it up. It would’ve just been nice to have a little more of the feeling I get from watching the “Weekend” video and less of the feeling I get from reading mindless Tumblr posts about how these guys are THE cool new band.
Catch them tomorrow night (Tuesday the 15th) in Portland. Click here for info.