Los Angeles – The Glass House on Saturday felt like a high school dance. Between the gymnasium floor, the Christmas trees on stage, the red and green spotlights and the floating, twirling mirror ball hanging from the ceiling rafters… It was romantic. Like Christmas.
And then there was the youth factor.
“My first boyfriend was a squatter,” lead singer/guitarist of Bleached, Jennifer Clavin, informed the young hipster-y audience during their headlining show that evening. (Other bands in the lineup were Winter, Cherry Glazerr and together PANGEA.) She used to ride the bus to visit said boyfriend in his squat house, apparently around the corner from the Pomona venue. “That’s how punk we are.”
While a hilarious little gem of a backstory, Bleached isn’t what you’d call traditional punk music. They’re a super-Cali brand of punk, much more laid back, both musically and in demeanor. As a good friend said whilst leaving the show, punk is about passion and anger. It’s the music of the disenfranchised. Bleached is not particularly in that realm. They’re more… rambunctious, a sunny, fun, love-centric version of punk music.
That being said, their show was fun…and a bit disappointing. A fun fact: On the second song members of Cherry Glazerr and other friends rushed the stage to hurl gift-wrapped boxes and balloons into the audience (who were very into it, crowd surfing, bobbing up and down.) Also during their set, a couple came on stage and the man took a knee and proposed to screams and cheers, his ring box lit up with a little light.
“In celebration of them getting engaged, let’s set this place on fire,” Jennifer said afterwards, dedicating the next song to the newlyweds. “Kidding, kidding, let’s crowd-surf a lot.”
Jennifer as a front woman, and presumably in life as well, is very off-the-cuff. You can tell she doesn’t overthink things. Her actions and words have an ownership that’s both disarming and a little Clueless (like the movie.) And she is sexy. Her hair was in a ponytail on top of her head, strands swinging down along the sides of her face, a black choker around her neck, black scoop-neck dress, very short with long sleeves and Elvira-esque black tights and boots. More than that, though, Jennifer dances and moves innately well with her guitar. Her head makes quick little side-to-side movements like a go-go dancer, and she leans back and forth, quickly, easily… Supreme confidence. It feels very unconscious, natural, like she’s been doing it all her life—which she kind of has.
Sisters Jessica (bass guitar/vocals) and Jennifer Clavin, who make up the core of Bleached, are former members of all-female punk group Mika Miko, a favorite band of LA all-ages underground and experimental venue The Smell. Mika Miko disbanded in 2009 after six years together and multiple tours across Europe, Japan and North America. They were known for putting on frenetic, high-energy shows. The Clavin sisters put great emphasis on the importance of live shows, and of connecting to the audience, something they’ve mentioned several times in the past. This was perhaps the main reason their live show was disappointing.
While “fun,” it was sloppy and kind of casual. The sound wasn’t great, guitars entirely drowned out lyrics on some of their best songs (“Dead in Your Head”) and just overall they were… okay. There were a few very unfocused moments, it sounded less like punk and more like noise. “Ride Your Heart,” their debut album released this past summer, is a great listen. There’s not a bad song on it. But the show… it felt very careless, like another Saturday night to them.
This was their final show in a long year of touring that included back-to-back European and North American tours. Their next shows aren’t until February.