rock

Kikagaku Moyo Concert at The Regent

Kikagaku Moyo (“geometric patterns” in Japanese) took the packed sold out crowd at The Regent on a wild trip Wednesday night. Still riding the waves of October 2018’s Masana Temples, Kikagaku Moyo is in the final home stretch of their North American tour before they do a stint in Europe this summer.

“Masana” is a fictional word created by Kikagaku Moyo to express a utopian feeling; an existence where everything can interact harmoniously and offer inspiration and understanding. Their fourth album Masana Temples radiates this vision, architecting a vibrating world that isn’t confined to the known limits of what came before it. With their acid folk and krautrock sounds dripping with sitar drone and fuzzy guitar, listening to Kikagaku Moyo’s music is an escape into another world entirely.

In the middle of the set, electric guitars were swapped out in favor of an acoustic and a cello. Drummer/vocalist Go Kurosawa took center stage while Daoud Popal receded to play percussion. The crowd hushed. Kikagaku Moyo played a few songs this way, including “Cardigan Song.”

While their Stone Garden EP was full of beautifully floating improvisations and 2016’s House In The Tall Grass tended towards hushed dreamstates, Masana Temples is sharply focused and clear in its vision in a way that feels unlike any of Kikagaku Moyo’s earlier sounds. In their time since forming in Japan in 2012, they’ve explored the world geographically and sonically and come back with this distilled receipt.

This laser sharp focus was on display during the set. Their nonverbal communication enabled them to meander through jams and draw out songs such as “Dripping Sun” before coming back into their groove with precision.

Shot for Grimy Goods. Click the photos to scroll through them big. To see more of my photos of Kikagaku Moyo click here.

Pond Concert at The Regent

Psychedelic rockers from Perth, Western Australia, Pond, played a raucous show at The Regent DTLA Tuesday night. The crowd undulated for the entirety of the set; frontman Nick Allbrooks’ distinctive dance moves and banter from the band riled them up continuously. By the end of the show it had been decided, this was the most fun Pond had ever had wrapping up a tour.

Playing an eclectic mix of new and old songs alike - the oldest of the old being “Don't Look At The Sun Or You'll Go Blind”, according to Pond - fans of every stage of the band’s career left satisfied. The theatrics were laid on thick, but never felt disingenuous. Allbrook whirled his flute like a baton twirler, then did the same with a microphone stand. At one point he used a toy megaphone to distort his vocals. And don’t even ask me how many times he crowd surfed or took a jaunt through the crowd. I stopped counting when I realized it would happen in more songs than it wouldn’t. These moves that could easily come across as contrived appeared to be more akin to involuntary compulsions produced from the music itself.

It’s impossible to discuss Pond without mentioning another Australian psychedelic rock act: Tame Impala. The member base of Pond may never be better articulated than it is in this Noisey article, so I’ll quote Tshepo Mokoena; “both bands are linked by a sort of incestuous revolving door of band members.” Vivid. Allow me to elucidate. Allbrook used to play in Tame Impala, and Pond’s drummer, Jay Watson, still does (while also juggling a third psych rock project, GUM). Whats more, current Tame Impala members Kevin Parker, Cam Avery, and Julien Barbagallo are all former members of Pond. Parker still lends himself to Pond, producing their albums. This dizzying kaleidoscope of who is who in what was entirely intentional. The original aim of Pond was a completely collaborative music project with anyone playing anything at any given time. However, much to the disappoint of the multiple concert-goers that asked me if Kevin Parker was in attendance, no such appearance occurred. Don’t worry, they didn’t need him there anyway.

Shot for Grimy Goods. Click the photos to scroll through them big. I had the immense pleasure of shooting Pond at Desert Daze; click here to see those.

Yo La Tengo Concert at Teragram Ballroom

At first glance of the extensive assemblage of instruments on stage, one might assume indie rock trio Yo La Tengo is actually an octet. Prior to the show, murmurs among the crowd indicated many fans were attending both evenings of their two night stay at the Teragram Ballroom, solidifying LA's contingent of the die hard, cult following the band has amassed of the years. 

It was a seasoned crowd for a seasoned band (Ira Kaplan noted the band is so old Downtown LA didn't exist when they started). Murmurs ceased in what became the quietest room inside which I've ever seen a concert. The level of respect shown for the delicately layered orchestration was impressive and reminiscent of that shown when seeing an actual orchestra. More impressive still was the ease with which the members of Yo La Tengo moved between instruments; James McNew from synth to sleigh bells to snare to electric bass to upright bass, Georgia Hubley from drum kit to keyboard or centerstage for vocals. Truly, a game of musical chairs. Songs from their 15th album (that's not a typo), There's a Riot Going On, brought a wash of dream-like ambience to the space. The slow undulation in the complex sonic landscape cast a net of tranquility catching everyone at the venue. 

Shot for Grimy Goods. Click the photos to scroll through them big.

DIIV Concert at The Wiltern

DIIV brought shoegaze psych-rock to The Wiltern for their Los Angeles stop on the Desert Daze Caravan with Ariel Pink. Building on the intro by a solid minute, they opened their set with the titular track off their latest album, Is The Is Are. As the first lyrics spilled from Zachary Cole Smith's lips the pit opened and grew chaotic. This kept up for the entirety of the set. Their stoic performance became a soundtrack to the homemade visuals being projected behind them; shot with a shitty camcorder, lagging as Quicktime Player struggled to keep up, featuring the mundane sights of life on tour interspersed with naked woman and boyish humor. Heavy heads rolled and lolled on hunched spines, but every now and then you could spot them craning around to watch their nostalgic home movie, too. Speaking directly to friends and members of the audience (largely about socks), it felt as though we were all hanging out in their garage-turned-studio. Maybe it's the fact that the majority of the time I've spent listening to DIIV has occurred in the isolation of bedrooms where the droning, haunting sounds open wide and swallow you whole, but overall, the show was lighter than I expected. The guitars weren't so dense, the melodies had room to breathe. While the execution of the songs was a mirror to their recorded counterparts, this shift in vibe made it feel like listening to a whole new band. Whether that's good or bad, you'll have to decide for yourself.

Shot for Grimy Goods. Click the images to scroll through them big and on black.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra Concert at The Wiltern

Touring their newest release, Sex & Food, psych-rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra played The Wiltern in Los Angeles Friday night. From the faux plants to the copious amounts of white shag carpet to a turntable and its collection of accompanying vinyl, it was as if Ruban Nielson invited the entirety of the sold out crowd into his basement and said, "hey, let's get a little weird." Highlights of the weirdness that ensued included Nielson taking a jaunt through the venue and all the way up to the mezzanine for a quick jam session, a brief break between songs for members of the band and some of the techs to take a group tequila shot, and a stripped down but crescendoing version of "Not in Love We're Just High" that managed to feel heartbreaking considering the subject matter. A departure both sonically and thematically from their applauded third album, Multi-Love, songs off the fourth release garnered less enthusiasm from the crowd than the former. Still, the set was full of a candid personality that made the entire night feel intimate, and well, weird. In a good way.

Shot for Grimy Goods. Click the photos to scroll through them big and on black.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs at The Hollywood Bowl

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs opened for LCD Soundsystem at the Hollywood Bowl, and Karen O's flawless performance and relentless energy made for one wild ass ride.

Shot for Grimy Goods. Click the photos to scroll through them big and on black.

LCD Soundsystem Concert at The Hollywood Bowl

On the second of two nights at the Hollywood Bowl with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Young Fathers, LCD Soundsystem brought the dance-friendly sounds of American Dream to the LA masses. Of course, the hits had their moment, too. James Murphy and his cohort worked like scientists in a lab; each at their respective station manipulating their own variables with intense focus, but working for a collective breakthrough. I'd say they found it in the double drop of "Dance Yrself Clean."

On a personal note, it took years of listening and a random night spent watching Shut Up And Play The Hits for me to really let LCD Soundsystem under my skin. But under my skin it's crawled and buried and built a home. This was made all the more apparent in what has become one of my favorite moments since moving to LA. Drunk and dancing in a Venice apartment, celebrating a birthday of someone I still don't know, I froze and nearly crashed like the waves outside the front door. I heard them; those pulsing opening synths to "Someone Great." It was late enough in the night that the people still remaining were randomly taking control of the aux cord, and this song happened to be put on by the guitarist of a band I grew up listening to, have shot multiple times, and somehow get to hang out with from time to time. For the next six and half minutes, the guitarist, my photography mentor, and myself were locked in. Unable to do anything but dance and scream along. And that is the power of James Murphy's ranting lyrics and repetitious melodies. The power of a mad scientist.

Shot for Grimy Goods. Click the photos to scroll through them large. Film fun will be posted later.

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Japanese Breakfast Concert at The Roxy

It was so hard to stay away from the Japanese Breakfast concert at White Oak Music Hall that took place during my time back in Houston. If there's an artist in town and I have the opportunity to shoot them, I usually can't say no. But patience is a virtue and I knew just a short time later I'd get to photograph their Los Angeles stop at The Roxy.

Sandwiched between their weekends at Coachella, Japanese Breakfast's Michelle Zauner brought her dreamy, lo-fi indie rock with diary-like lyrics to a sold out crowd. She warned she doesn't get to talk much at Coachella and she intended on making up for it. I doubt anyone minded. Zauner managed to make her between-song banter feel like stand up comedy; a little self deprecating, a little dirty, and constantly circling back to a couple themes - in this case, her love of celebrity sitings and a case of acid reflux brought on by too many chicken wings from Night + Market Song (a stop she made under the recommendation of Khruangbin's Laura Lee). The humor was a nice reprieve from the vulnerability expressed in the songs.

In the middle of the set, the crowd hushed and some of the band left the stage for a series of quieter songs culminating with the crushing "This House". The melancholy vibe didn't last, though; the night ended with a full blown dance party to "Everybody Wants to Love You" with Nathan of And And And lending vocals.

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