Some corporate sponsored events are held and put on entirely free to the public. The major sponsors do this as a token of good will to the hip public they’re trying to reach, hoping to engender positive associations for their brand and/or product line in exchange for the free entertainment. For Red Bull Sound Select Presents: Los Angeles, the massive energy drink company chose a different approach, helping to fund the event, but offering a low $3 entry fee before 10 p.m. The sponsor sweetened the pot by offering all proceeds to go to the local opening bands on the bill. Tonight’s event was appropriately headlined by the ever-evolving garage rock band Wavves with support from Incan Abraham, Hands and Hour of the Time Majesty Twelve (known most commonly as HOTT MT).
HOTT MT was up first, and all heretofore stories about the band are completely accurate: they are intentionally bizarre but also fun. Lead singer Ashi Dala came out clad in a full-body fish costume which less than two songs later was discarded into the crowd. From there, the band wove a tapestry of reverberated psychedelia with each progressive number. Dala paused at various points to cutely challenge the crowd to dance and enjoy themselves more. She speaks with a syncopated and almost incomprehensible drawl, but does so with a bubbly sense of unaffected enthusiasm. It’s no wonder the band was a great fit for working with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips (after famously showing up at his home to request the collaboration).
Before the main event, Wavves, came local Los Angeles band Hands. Hands most simply can be described as the indie rock equivalent of the 80s cartoon Gummi Bears. The band takes a lighter stab at Bloc Party-ish dance rock while literally jumping up-and-down happily. It would be one thing if it was only at the highest point of an explosive song, but the band literally bounces through most of their numbers. Still, it’s solid fun, with danceable energy and not too heavy handed or self-indulgent to take away the fun of a good groove.
Headliner Wavves delivered an altogether different form of energy. Lead singer/guitarist Nathan Williams takes the stage in a spaced-out tie-dye T and a pair of sweats with a massive hole stretching the majority of the left leg. He may look unassuming, but this slightly grizzled man punches out his chords with the ferocity of Johnny Ramone shouting through with a nasal wail. The crowd is itching for the energy, and from the beginning of the first number on through the set’s conclusion is at a frenzy of nearly pogoing moshing, all bumping into each other like tops gone out of control. The band captures the freight train, reckless spirit of Jay Reatard and serves it with a stoned-out sensibility. Some of the band’s newest songs are the most impressive as well. “Demon to Lean On” features the dark and unapologetic words, “Holding a gun to my head / So send me an angel / Or bury me deep where you stand / With demons to lean on.” “Afraid of Heights” takes the narcotic consumption and world weary laziness to its extreme with it’s repeated call of “I’ll always be on my own.” The energy continues with the raucous “Beat Me Up” and “Sail to the Sun,” the crowd a swirling mass of fleshy chaos. All in all, it was a good night of cheap fun. It may not have had anything stumbling into pure essential brilliance, but it was a worthy night of smiles and release.
All photos by Raymond Flotat