It was Monday night in Silver Lake, the first one of 2015; The Satellite’s monthly residency, sponsored by KROQ Locals Only featured Wildling with supporting acts Lemmo, City City and Rosechild. The show was free and 21+; but, on the way in, everyone was given a stamp on their wrist that looked kind of like a “no smoking” symbol but without the smoldering cartoon cigarette (more on this later).
The first band up was Lemmo, Michael Lemmo’s talented trio. The Satellite was almost empty when they took the stage. There’s something about free shows that allows people to show up late; maybe it’s the feeling that you’re not wasting money by missing out on music since you didn’t have to spend any or maybe it’s just the flawed rationale that opening bands are “opening bands” for a reason. Whatever the case, latecomers on Monday night missed out on a really singular performance.
Michael Lemmo’s stage attire and hair were reminiscent of the mop tops and blazers made famous by the Brit invasion of the 60’s and reborn here in a more authentic way than Harry Styles’ runway ready versions. Lemmo, originally from Pennsylvania, has also, seemingly styled his voice after those groups as well, sounding like Ringo singing David Bowie (in a good way); but, his guitar pedigree is definitely Made In the USA.
Lemmo, who once lived down the street from Eddie Van Halen (which may be why Lemmo’s only cover was Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”) and is a member of Robert M. Knight’s Brotherhood of the Guitar, plays his own version of bluesy rock pop that bounces between true American blues and British disco ballads. His guitar has a sound all its own. His playing is crisp, each note hangs in the air just long enough to hypnotize the audience, well supported by his bandmates rhythms (Benjamin Borland on bass and Matty Alger on drums). His lyrics are insightful and endearing, “I was born to love and it’s you I want to know.” We will all know more about Lemmo in 2015.
Following Lemmo’s comparably subdued set was a very different group. City City, born out of Nebraska but residing in Los Angeles, is a stage-filling, multi-instrumentalist group effort who just dropped their first, eponymous, full length album last month. By now, The Satellite had begun to fill up and City City was determined to make them dance, leading the crowd by belting “I don’t dance, but I don’t fight it” during their most well-known hit “I Don’t Dance.”
Dan McCollister offers up lead vocals on most of the songs with newcomer Claire Cetera getting a couple turns (including a cover of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”), but the best parts of all the songs is when every member is contributing to the refrain. They enjoy being on stage together and it shows; convincing the Satellite crowd, even during feedback and sound mixing issues, that Monday night was gonna be a fun one. The sextet also shares instrument duties with McCollister and Cetera often switching instruments mid song; it just looks like a whole lot of fun. Hopefully, we’ll hear more from them this year; and, hopefully, they’ll forever remain in their constant state of joy (like their KROQ Local Only celebration video here).
Wildling took a bit of setting up and, soon, those wrist stamps with the “No Smoking-esque” symbols on them began to make sense. On either side of the stage, custom lights in that shape, but with the line across the center parallel to the ground (instead of diagonally/random on the audience’s wrists), were placed. The stamp and the lights are all part of Wildling’s branding. Maybe it means “no to nothing” or “stop” (like an English traffic sign) or maybe it just means “Look, over here, there’s great music!” because this band is fantastic.
All the style and sex of Maroon 5 (as evidenced by first two rows being primarily female), but with the mass market rock chops of the Goo Goo Dolls, this band is on the verge. Easily absorbed, accessible, energetic, with addicting hooks “Opposite of everything…”, they left nothing wanting. Levine’s lead vocals (Ryan or brother Justin, the internet does not make clear) are strong and pull this talented band along with him.
Attendees of Monday night’s residency got to see something not often seen in live music… two bassists (Ryan and Justin) jamming at each other; old school “let’s face each other and wail” style jamming. They even pulled Eric Cannata (Young the Giant) up for a song (the bands are touring together later this year). Their single “Hummingbird” is great and has been getting buzz through KROQ, but this band has a lot more to show us on their can’t-come-soon-enough EP. Follow them on facebook where they followed through on their last status (“..we’ll make you forget that it’s Monday”) and go see them for FREE every Monday in January at The Satellite.
Words by: Auggie
Photos by: Sharee Allen