(John Frusciante w/ Swahili Bonde)
Swahili Blonde’s debut at the Echoplex this past Saturday, July 10 was more of a debunk than a debut. As the string of performances by Weave!, We Are the World and of course Swahili Blonde were already an hour off schedule, a lot of speculation started brewing amongst the crowd whether one of the bands had canceled or if the main man of the night (John Frusciante) was going to make an appearance. Well, the confused bustling crowd would soon have a not-so-positive answer.
Weave! came on with an eclectic radiance of electro beats and freaks mixed in with some soul-sonic dub. Not only were the cool sounds they were creating a pleasure to hear, but collectively the band was a sight to see. Percussionist, Alex “Whitey” Black had it going on with his 80s muscle man singlet and black and white striped leggings. The shit was pretty funny, but their funked out attire only added to their fun stage presence.
After a long set change, the moment we had all been waiting for was about to go in with a blunder. Swahili Blonde hit the stage with some tribalesque beats paired with some spunky “hoo’s” and “howls.” With two female vocalists on stage (including Nicole Turley) not playing any instruments, another fem violinist, a chick on the keys and dudes on the guitar, bass and drums—the crowd grew ancy trying to make out if it was indeed Frusciante on the guitar or not. Not to mention, was that Duran Duran’s John Taylor on the bass? The room was dark and the lights were flashing, although we couldn’t get a close look it didn’t take us too long to figure that it wasn’t Frusciante jamming out on the guitar. Now the crowd feeling as though they were “bait & switched” had to endure a lackluster performance of some weak vocals and emotion, although which ever “special guest” was handling the violin, she did a fab job ripping on those lil strings. Even the Frusciante imposter held it down with some funk buzz.
After about four songs, the crowd was to be blessed with an epic closing jam by none other than John Frusciante. Although it was all but one song lasting a good six minutes or so, the man jammed out to some wild shit and closed up the show proper. I can honestly say the whole crowd was pleased with his brief appearance—even the chatty-Cathy morons stopped their incessant blabber for a bit.
So what’s the deal? Isn’t Frusciante a standing member of Swahili Blonde?
Well, that’s what I along with many other fans thought upon arrival to the show. After talking one-on-one to Frusciante during a brief intermission of the next act, We Are The World, he shared with me that he is no longer with Swahili Blonde. He recorded with them but later quit the band. He doesn’t understand why she (Nicole) was advertising him as being in the band, because he’s not. He also felt bad that many die hard fans came from as far as Arizona to see him rock that guitar. With that said, I think he felt obliged to play at least one song and we’re sure glad he did.
With a bit of polish, a more powerful stage presence and the need to establish their identity, Swahili Blonde still has the potential to be something great … maybe.
(We Are The World)
While already possessing something totally eccentric and extraordinary, We Are The World closed up the night at the Echoplex with a sinister bang. We had reviewed their new album “Clay Stones” a few months ago and were already aware of their “raucous live shows and decidedly dark demeanor.” But we had no idea how captivating watching them right before your eyes would be. Their album does not give their live performance justice.
Fused with industrial beats, summoning vocals and an incredibly powerful stage presence—I felt as though I were part of a cult where a virgin was to be sacrificed at any given moment. We Are The World came out strong with beautiful dance theatrics, frightening ritual-like costumes of solid black or angelic white, and a vibrating surge of electro beats that tickled everything from your nose to your toes. When I had spoken to Frusciante as detailed above, he mentioned he really liked We Are The World and this was his second time seeing them. Great musicians always have great taste.
Words: Sandra Burciaga
Photos: Matt Fisher
We Are The World