John Vanderslice and Bent Shapes, November 21, 2013 @ Bootleg Bar

My last concert of 2013 was an intimate show at the Bootleg Bar in LA.  It was my first time to this venue, the front of the space is open and had a ping pong table to pass the time before they opened the door to the back room where the show was.  Before the opener, we bought John’s new LP, Dagger Beach and he was nice enough to sign it and take a picture with my wife, who is a big fan.

The opener was Bent Shapes, a Boston three piece (though lead singer Ben Potrykus’ sister was joining them for this show, she also served as their hypewoman from the stage).  They burned through a half hour set of polished punk and still had time to thank John Vanderslice for being a great tourmate by presenting him with pastries before he went on.

As the  last time I saw him, Vanderslice played with Jason Slota on drums and keyboard.  This time he had a third person up in the rafters of the club, Jacob Winik, who was doing sound.  In addition to putting on great shows and being a fantastic musician, John is very passionate about music and he always give much love to the people that play with him.  He took a few minutes during the show to point out the crazy skills of his drummer Jason, who in addition to drumming was playing keyboards, often at the same time.  I could barely handle playing drums with two hands, let alone handling a second instrument with one hand.  He also demonstrated how his soundman Jacob was modulating his guitar to make some wonderfully weird sounds.

He mixed in songs from Dagger Beach with older material, and the small but attentive crowd lapped it all up.  Slota is a mesmerizing drummer and can bring the hammer or flit around in the background.  He also plays a good straight man to Vanderslice’s goofy banter.  After finishing up his main set, he came down off the stage and the audience circled him and Jason for a few more acoustic songs, including the last song with Bent Shapes.  Great show as always, Vanderslice is consistently entertaining.  Even if you don’t know his stuff (you can stream a bunch of his stuff on his blog), if he’s in your town, go and you will be entertained.

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