This post originally appeared on E.'s personal blog on March 4, 2016, but summer is always a good time to think about LA bands... Enjoy.
I love LA. I do. I was born here, a 4th generation Angeleno, and lived in Hollywood in my formative post-college years. I'm the broken record in the car, tsk-tsking as we drive along glittering LA streets at night, lamenting the loss or alteration of a store where I used to buy vintage tees, a nightclub you entered through a refrigerator door at the back of a badly lit liquor store, a hole-in-the-wall where I used to drink Singapore Slings or the apartment building where I danced the Highland Fling on a particularly memorable St. Patty's Day. My life in LA proper was filled with times like this, little memories around every corner, on every star of the Walk of Fame, in and out of smoky bars and (when I was lucky enough to get invited) poolside on a lazy Sunday.
The thing about last night's show (Cherry Glazerr + Best Coast + Wavves at the Fonda) is, I believe each of those bands totally understand what I'm talking about. There's a feeling (God, please don't let me say "vibe" when talking about my beloved Californian hometown) in the air of a night out in LA. Summer, fall, winter, whatever. It's all the same here, right? Good weather, maybe a sweater, and the sparkly excitement that *something* is going to happen. And maybe it does, maybe it doesn't... the feeling remains.
And so it was with my family's favorite LA-based bands. We have been big fans of Best Coast for a few years (how can you not love a band with lyrics like "I wish my cat would talk"?) and Wavves has had two solid years of heavy rotation in my car. Cherry Glazerr is a newer addition (also getting heavy play in my car on the ride to school), but super intriguing. And all three for a third of the price of a pair of Adidas? Come on.
The night was like a celebration of grungy garage punk, with a careless sprinkle of sugary lyrics on top. Each set was tight, each band grateful and geared up for a triumphant LA homecoming. I'd read this lackluster review of their Boston show last weekend, and I had a sinking suspicion that the reviewer (and maybe even the crowd) didn't *get* what our summery LA bands are all about. But last night's beautiful and young crowd-surfing, head-bobbing, sweaty, singalong sea of fans totally did.
Cherry Glazerr, up first, killed it with a solid set of songs about the finer things in life, like teenage girls and grilled cheese sandwiches. Lead singer Clementine Creevy and her bandmates almost look too young to be so good at what they do, but this is why I drag my kids to live shows. It's one thing to like a quirky, gritty stoner song like "Had 10 Dollaz" on your Spotify playlist, but it's entirely transcendent to see the band lope around the stage, jangling guitars and pounding on keyboards and drums, everything pinned on Clementine's carefree (but totally in-control) energy.
We saw Best Coast in early October at the Santa Barbara Bowl, opening for Death Cab for Cutie. Maybe because it wasn't their own show, they seemed stiffer, less engaged with the audience, not as explosive. As opposed to last night, which showcased the breadth of the band's history, with songs from their 2015 album "California Nights" as well as a heavy dose of sunshiney songs from 2010's "Crazy for You." Bethany C. was on-it, a fierce frontwoman unafraid to explore the vulnerable underbelly of love in the modern world.
Wavves, too, played such a variety of songs that lead singer Nathan Williams joked that, before this tour, the band had only played 30-minute sets and had to learn a bunch of new songs. Like clockwork, as soon as the band ripped into their set, the crowd began to funnel gangly arms and gyrating torsos like a conveyor belt toward a group of mildly amused security dudes. They raced through a collection of new and older songs, from the ferocious "Nine is God" to the seeking "Demon to Lean On" and party-punk anthem "Way Too Much." Every riff, every lyric, the crowd was right there with them, capturing the summer sun that remains in Los Angeles, even in the winter. By the time they ended the night with the hypnotic "Green Eyes," eschewing the artifice of an encore in favor of keeping the energy of the night as high as possible, it was easy to forget about school the next day, and the always-imminent El Nino/drought, and the fact that June is months away.
At the Fonda, last night was midsummer and you can't convince me otherwise.