The Fader recently published an article asking, “Are Tame Impala the Last Great Rock Band?” If that writer had been at The Echo on Monday night, then they would have to agree that the answer is no- if that title belongs to anyone, it’s Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders.
The night began with United Ghosts, a loud local garage rock group. The power that their music created was tangible, something you can feel in your gut. Axel Ray Steuerwald, one of the band’s founding members, reminded me a lot of Lou Reed, in his look and his demeanor. The music he makes with Sha Sabi is enchanting, but their set felt far too short, though that may be the inherent drawback of being an opening act. United Ghosts may not be the Velvet Underground, but they still delivered a memorable set before the kings of Aussie rock took the stage themselves.
Jack Ladder came to the Echo earlier this year, as a late addition to the bill with The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries. They played first out of three acts, and the majority of the crowd took off after they had played, demonstrating the insatiable need LA has for Jack Ladder. They returned to the city of angels on Monday, this time headlining that iconic Echo Park venue, and to another packed house.
The Dreamlanders have a signature sinister sound. Watch the video for “Her Hands” (below) and you immediately get a sense that something is a little off, but you can’t turn away. Ladder has quite a deep voice which complements the minor chords and keeps up their distinct facade. Onstage, Ladder is quite aloof, unlike his bandmate, Kirin Callinan on electric guitar. Callinan is a great performer, never standing still and always revving up the drama whether he’s creating controlled feedback with the amps or throwing around his guitar like a pen he might twirl in his fingers. The crowd certainly clung to Callinan, giving him a lot of love when Jack finally introduced the band during the encore. This was Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders final stop in their inaugural US tour, and if the crowd at The Echo had any parting words for the Aussies before they return home, they’d be: “One more song! One more song!”
Words: Zoë Elaine