Live Music

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a show, I’ve been doing a lot of backpacking on weekends, which has made me miss a couple of shows I’d hoped to catch.  Last night I went with my friends and Erin and Bryan to the Skirball Cultural Center for a night of games and music.  Playtime at Skirball had several game-themed interactive activities:  oversized board games (we played Jenga with big blocks, I lost), a craft room, video games made by UCLA students that were projected on large screens as well as roving arcade games rickshaws (a guy with a working arcade-style video game strapped on his back).

Geographer. Now I know what the drummer looks like (center).

There was also a DJ and two bands.  DJ Anthony Valadez from KCRW did a good job warming up the crowd before and between sets with a varied mix of mostly familiar tunes.  First of the two bands up was Geographer, from San Francisco.  A three piece, though at the beginning of the set we only thought there were the lead singer/guitarist/button pusher and cello player since the drummer was hidden on what seemed like a lower riser from the rest of the stage.

Lead singer Michael Deni has a nice voice and in addition to that and playing guitar, he also worked some of what I’m assuming were preprogrammed synth and voice loops.  Cellist Nathan Blaz was electric with his stringed instrument, and also ventured over to a keyboard for one or two songs.  I’d describe Geographer’s music (and Sea Wolf’s as well) as atmospheric pop, though Geographer had a shinier, poppier sound than Sea Wolf.  Deni and the band were pretty laid back, though Deni occasionally started doing some shredding that got him moving.  We got the idea of what they were about and went to explore some more of the museum.  I’ll definitely at some point go listen to their two albums, so if you see them listed as an opener at a show you’re going to, I’d say it’s worth it to get there early enough to catch at least part of their set.

We watched the Sea Wolf set from the second story pavilion that overlooked the stage and now larger crowd.  Bryan remarked that the setup was reminiscent of the Coliseum.  Now off the floor, we were now in the position to decide whether Sea Wolf lived or died.  Like Geographer, the band employs a cellist, but otherwise is a much bigger outfit.  At the helm is singer Alex Brown Church, based in LA via NYC.  Sea Wolf seems to be his creation and he uses a rotating band of players to accompany him.  Sea Wolf has recorded on local label Dangerbird Records.  Maybe it was because we weren’t down there among the masses, or because Geographer played a similar style of music, but I never really got into it.  There were definitely moments of goodness in there.  Strangely, midway through the set, Church decided to play an acoustic song that broke any momentum the band had going.  Given the type of event this was, this was an odd choice.  Throughout the song, the audible din of chatter served as his accompaniment.  All I could think of was this:

Ok, a little harsh, I’ll give them a second chance.  Like Geographer, I would like to hear more from Sea Wolf.  They have a new album being released in September, which I’ll definitely check out.

And now for no other reason than when I first heard their name this is what popped in my head, combined with Ernest Borgnine’s death (I totally forgot he was on this show), the theme from Airwolf:

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