After three years away since their last album, Blonde Redhead have finally returned to tour for their latest release, Penny Sparkle, and included a stop at the Echoplex as part of Check Yo Ponytail 2. Special guests for the event included Bass Drum of Death, The Luyas, Franki Chan and Turquoise Wisdom. Fans had to be turned away from this sold-out show.
The first act was the grungy, teenage angst rock of Mississippi-hailed Bass Drum of Death, a band who unfortunately lived up to their namesake. Although the drummer DID beat the Bass Drum like he was teaching it a lesson, their set sounded like one endless, confusing song. The lead singer took anti-social performance cues from the late Kurt Cobain, while disheveled hair curtained his face as he swallowed the microphone to belt out Jack White/Joey Ramone-esque inaudible vocals.
The second act to take the stage was The Luyas. This Canadian indie rock quintet from Montreal was hands-down the surprise treat of the night. Vocally and melodically reminiscent of a sweeter, more playful Björk, Stein’s pixie-like magnetism wooed the crowd. Highlights included Stein’s Jimmy Hendrix-like guitar solo, the impressive introduction of a little known stringed instrument called a “Moodswinger,” the hauntingly beautiful French Horn songs; and the awe-inspiring light bulb show that came to life like an orchestra of sporadically blinking, dancing fireflies.
Finally, Blonde Redhead hit the stage. The Italian twin brothers, Simone (drums) and Amedeo Pace (guitar, vocals, sampler), along with the Japanese beauty named Kazu Makino (vocals, guitar, synth), performed an etherial set with a 2-song encore to a packed house of adoring fans.
Kazu spent much of the show pushed into the background on the furthest side of stage right, often playing synth or guitar with her head bowed down, back to the audience. Her siren-like voice blended into that of the synth or guitar at times and the whole trio locked in as if one beautiful organism. At other times, Kazu came to life when she took the mic, edging toward center stage, swaying to the music as if in a trance while her long, dark hair completely covered her face.
Their first set soared with the melancholy “Dr. Strangelove,” the ironically euphoric “Everything is Wrong,” and fan favorite “Falling Man”, featuring the lead vocals and guitar solo of Amedeo, which transformed the audience into a choir singing along to every word. They and closed with the electronica-heavy “23,” during which the crowd went crazy when foam was released from the ceiling at the first drum hit.
Their two-song encore included “SW,” which featured a very technical drum solo by the rhythm-possessed Simone at the song’s end, followed by their new albums’ hauntingly mellow title track.
The evening was great and the audience was more than satisfied with the show.