“More reverb please.”
Local dream pop band Sugarcube’s opening words essentially summed up the line-up last Friday night at L.A.’s The Echo. Starting the night off with their Archy Marshall-esque baritone vocals layered over trance-like echoing reverb, their set list ranged from dreamy, relaxed melodies to angsty, driving distortion. Their energy reflected their music: downbeat, slow, and a little sullen, which was later explained when the band announced that this was their “last show ever,” marking the end of their musical career.
On the other hand, indie rock group BOYO was the upbeat, happier cousin to the melancholy Sugarcube. Their music had a bounce and danceability to it that the vibrant energy expressed throughout the band, such as when the drummer stood up and hit the crash cymbal with his entire body weight, radiating pure music-making enjoyment through his face-splitting smile. BOYO brought out a synth halfway through which added a childlike and nostalgic feel to their cozier tracks, evoking that familiar “recorded in a bedroom” feel. The band had a humorous, light-hearted, and playful quality to their music that was also reflected in their interactions with each other, giving off the feel that they were doing what they loved — making music.
Lasers, fog machines, and a single microphone stand placed dead-center on the stage welcomed glam-rock pros Fatal Jamz, the headliner of the night. A funky 80s beat played right off the bat and Marion Belle, lead singer, walked up to the mic adorned with round sunglasses, a white cardigan buttoned to purposefully expose a bit of midriff, and platform boots. Belle seemed to sigh into his vocals with ease, but instead of his voice fading out, it got more powerful, creating a nonchalant feel to his robust vocals. His frequent dance breaks, prowling back to the band and slinking back to the microphone, added to the languid effect of his performance.
At first glance, Belle seemed unapproachable to me, perhaps due to the amount of confidence and comfort in his own skin that emulated from his cocked-hip stance; this was especially noticeable in comparison to the crowd that mostly housed self-conscious 18-to-20-somethings who, with the help of a little liquid courage, eventually lost enough of their inhibitions to dance.
Fatal Jamz debuted a new song called “She Rides Horses,” which was the first song Belle and the lead guitarist co-wrote. Their setlist contained mostly hits off of their new album Coverboy (2016), including an acoustic rendition of “Touch the Flame.”
The night ended with Franky Flowers, an indie garage punk band with a sound that I didn’t expect from a rosy-cheeked boy with a red striped crop and high-rise flare jeans. Obviously, a mosh pit ensued as the distortion increased, wrapping up the line-up with a burst of energy to hopefully carry the audience on their drive back home on the 405.
Article and Photos by Vivian Chen