An early set time of 7:30 p.m. for opening band, Pageants, meant early arrival at The Echo on June 28, 2011, as I did not want to miss a thing (cue Aerosmith here). I was one of the few at this point with a beer in hand and the booth seating along the side of the venue was taken, so my Newcastle and I saddled up on the bench underneath the DJ/sound booth in the back. Romantic, I know.
A few couples stood scattered in their respective pairs up front and the rest of us, myself, a few wily teenagers, fellow bands and their posses became wallflowers. Insert rotating circle lights a la middle school dance and the subtle serenade of Pageants drifty indie pop left me enchanted, with stars in my eyes. Sorry Billy Hodgkins, this girl is taken. One of my favorite things about their performance were the vocals of singer/guitarist Rebecca Coleman (formerly of Avi Buffalo) which were tranquilizing and dreamy yet commanded attention. Some echo-like effects allowed her vocals to reach every corner of the room and never got lost in the slower, mellower songs. Guitarist Devin O’Brien kept the flow solid, especially when Rebecca put her guitar aside a few times and just sang. When the two played guitars together they produced a very complementary tone. Rather than dueling it out or one going way far off into solo-land, they really played hand-in-hand. Now we all get by with a little help from our backing tracks and drum machines and while I enjoyed them as a duo there were a few points during the set where I longed to hear a real drummer, to flesh out those small but present spaces and gaps with fills and give them an extra kick. Overall it was a sweet set and I’m excited to hear more from them. Part way through the set Rebecca addressed the crowd, “We’re Pageants from Long Beach. Shout out to the homies.” And to that I’d like to respond “I’m Emily from Grimy Goods, shout out to Pageants.”
After a slightly more laborious sound check post-Pageants, Pan Am took to the stage. They hit it hard right off the bat with their straight up rock ‘n roll, something that made me reminisce of smooth talkin’ 50s rock and 90s alternative in the same instance. They played songs off their Young Fun EP including a solid track of the same name. During one of their songs after about a minute or so in, the lead guitarist started going for a solo that all of a sudden halted abruptly, leaving me perplexed and in mid dance mode. Woooeeee what up with that? I thought to myself. Luckily the easy foot stompin’ tunes soon continued and guitar solos seemed to become increasingly prevalent, none of which really blew me away though. I also found it a shame that the bassist and drummer never had much opportunity to rock some solos. I believe that would’ve brought some much needed variety to the set. They ended with a cover of “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie. This lifted my spirits and incentive to dance (because how could it not?) but I believe a little honing in on their own sound could really propel Pan Am into flight.
Post patio break we stepped back into a now packed venue and we were bombarded shortly thereafter with a shattering wall of sound accompanied by flailing hair, clanging tambourine and the instantly engaging and determined vocals of 16-year-old singer, Chloe Chaidez of Kitten. For such a physically small and young band they sure had a lion, once could even say liger-like roar of a sound. Their set included songs such as “Kill the Light,” “Chinatown” and my emerging favorite “Kitten with a Whip,” off of their Sunday School EP. Chloe’s smartly placed occasional squeaks and yips interlaced with mature lyrics combined with the raw energy and outgoing stage presence of both her and the band, reminded me of a mix of a less drastic Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Be Your Own Pet, another notoriously young band that hit the indie music scene running. Though the crowd seemed planted to the ground for most of the show, sticking to head bobbing and picture taking, Kitten’s infectious energy transferred over to to some show-goers. A friend got up on stage to dance and Chloe definitely earned brownie points in my book for dancing on top of the drum set like Beach Party Annette Funicello gone wild. This is KITTEN and they won’t let you forget it. Meow!
Last up were headliners, The Postelles! These NYC boys just recently released their self-titled debut album on June 7. They played several songs from their Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes, as if you didn’t know) produced gem, including “123 Stop,” “Sleep on the Dancefloor” and “Can’t Stand Still.” In the middle of their set they busted out a sweet new song but no title was given, so even though they just came out with their debut album they seem to already be on their way to releasing their sophomore follow up and let’s hope they don’t wait too long! Their catchy hooks and melodies, reminiscent of 60s rock and girl groups, quickly eased me into their retro groove.
The Postelles amped up some of the robots in the crowd, with a cover of “California Sun” by the Rivieras. However they took it a bit far by egging on the crowd to show their L.A. pride with a short N.Y. vs L.A. interlude, which I found to be overkill and unnecessary. L.A. is great and I’m glad they seemed to be enjoying their time in town but no need to feed the ego or engage a musical version of the Dodger Stadium attack. Luckily they shortly got back to what they do best, MUSIC. They followed with one of my favorite tracks off the new album, the super catchy, head bobbing inducing “Hey Little Sister.” A chorus of girls behind me were also revved up for this one and piped in with the ”Hey Little Sister” call and response. If 60s girl groups were actually in fact boys and played all their instruments but shopped at Urban Outfitters and Fred Perry they just might be The Postelles. This band is a trip down memory lane with a modern edge, minus the big hair (but if lead singer, Daniel Balk wants to grow a fro…..just sayin….).
Show Review by Emily Saex
Photography by Monique Hernandez
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