Set against a beautiful backdrop echoing a mediterranean villa and a gaggle of adults getting in touch with their playful side, Sea Wolf surprisingly performed an uninspired show to close out the night.
The evening, hosted at the decadent Skirball Cultural Center, nestled in the Santa Monica foothills, was called “Into The Night: Playtime.” It’s aim was to entice adults to tap into their childhood through movies, music and art. Fittingly, some of the art consisted of construction paper, feathers, glitter, pipe cleaners, crayons and glue. The crowd danced and drank wine, listening to DJ Anthony Valdez pump everything from 80’s rock and Afrobeat to today’s dance. Adding more nostalgic appeal, a line formed behind a guy with a circa 1980’s arcade machine strapped to his back. Party-goers took turns playing the video game; tapping buttons and jostling an old-school joystick. Yes, it was THAT kind of party–the fun, quirky, crazy, yet exclusive kind.
The headliner of the night was Sea Wolf, an indie rock band who self admittedly, were “happy to be back home” in Los Angeles after a long tour. However, it didn’t appear so. Despite how unique and bright their recordings sound, this live performance featured one song blending effortlessly into the next, merging into one long song. If the idea was to woo the crowd to sleep or to clearly identify the end of the party, Sea Wolf did just that. Despite a few crowd favorites like “You’re a Wolf” and “Middle Distance Runner”, potential new fans strayed while diehards stayed.
The band performed each song with little introduction — of the songs, the album or even the band members. The disconnect between band members created a barrier toward the audience, leading to an awkward evening. With indifference reigning his facial expressions, the front man, Alex Brown Church, forgot lyrics and restarted songs a few times. All the while the bassist, who played like he was a hired hand or new band member, often looked into the distance away from the rest of the band, as if to expect an old friend to ascend into view from the horizon. Toward the end of the set, the audience was informed that the unincorporated bassist was actually leaving the band. The band member’s uneasiness, and the front man’s attempt to shrug it off, made things all the more uncomfortable. The cellist was about-to-drop pregnant and no one bothered to share the lovely news with the room.
Closing the set, the band abruptly evacuated the stage, looking back a few times, as if to indicate either there was going to be an encore or they weren’t sure if they were indeed supposed to end the set. Even the sound engineers had no idea what was going on. The remaining audience lingered in hopes of an encore. After a lull, DJ Anthony Valdez hit the 1s and 2s and the stagehands began to clear the stage. It was clear that Sea Wolf wasn’t a perfect fit for the upbeat themed event, ending the night in a deflating hiss.
Dew In The Grass
White Water White Bloom
Orion & Dog
Black Leaf Falls
The Rose Captain
Middle Distance Runner
Turn Over The Dirt
You’re A Wolf
Photos by Brett Padelford