A line of people outside an unmarked building was the only sign The Echo Nightclub needed to inform passersby that they had reached the trendy bar in Echo Park. But once you entered the front door, there was only empty darkness. The crowd trickled in slowly, barely making a dent in the spacious club, as they awaited the four bands ending with the popular groups Little Ones and Dios Malos. As you entered the club, the only real light came from the stage. At first it seemed like someone was doing a sound check. There were heavy drones coming from a man with black hair and clothes that were arguably worn yesterday. He stood alone with his guitar before a group of random people got onstage to join him. This was the band Peter And The Wolf. It consisted of a kid’s drum set, trumpet, trombone, steel bathtub, and various objects (like a huge water bottle) used for percussion. What could have fallen flat on its face gave an interesting “junk” sound mixed with vocalist Red Hunter’s Jeff Buckley-like wailings. It was a folksy type of sound that one would only expect to hear in the pioneer South and not the usual LA scene.
After forty minutes of random squeaks and blows from Peter And The Wolf, the crowd grew only slightly. Out came married duo, The Submarines. A daisy-covered xylophone drew the attention center stage where Blake Hazard stood with her two blond braids and guitar. To her right was tour musician Peter Adams, sitting behind a single keyboard. This left John Dragonetti with his guitar and computer. At one point, he smiled humbly at the audience and said, “We’re still becoming a band so the computer is our drums.”
They began their set with “Vote,” one of John’s fast paced ditties about breaking up. Unless you were standing in the space in front of the stage, it would be difficult to catch John’s heartfelt lyrics due to the heavy bass sound and echoes throughout the room. The Submarines switched up their play list a bit from their album but kept the pacing of taking turns singing their songs. In “Brighter Discontent” Peter played a little backup malodica, giving the song a quirky spin as Blake sang. She started out bashful, singing mostly to her feet. It was clear how personal the lyrics were to her and that it was still a little odd sharing them in front of strangers. But by the second chorus Blake let her voice ring out, displaying crisp vocals that sounded even better live. John was similar, hiding under his hair making his performance more inward than for the audience. However, the performance worked because they were singing such intimate songs about their relationship. It made what you were hearing genuine.
Between songs, Blake and John were more at ease. It felt like you were hanging out with your sweet neighbors across the street. They made small talk about the Belle and Sebastian concert the night before, how their concert posters were “fancy and stuff,” and how Blake loved playing in Los Angeles because if she forgot something she could just run home and get it.
By the time they sang “Peace and Hate,” the crowd grew in size as did their appreciation for The Submarines. Blake giggled between playing xylophone and singing with John. Watching it you realize what a great duo they make. Though they didn’t get to play every song in their album Declare A New State, The Submarines chose strong and various songs that represented the kind of electric pop that made their album shine. The band left with the melancholic “Darkest Things,” a lullaby harmony filled with gloomy wisdom. For being so tragic, the crowd applauded the band as if it was the sweetest upbeat song in the world. And with their darling personalities and harmonious sounding scores, no one minded being fooled.