TORCHES closed out their May Monday Night Residency at The Echo in Los Angeles on Memorial Day this past week– appropriate timing to say the least. Fans young and old lined up outside the venue, eager hit the bar before the band hit the stage. Cigarettes and beer on the patio lubricated conversations throughout crowd– they had all come for the same reason.
Before the headliners appeared, other up-and-coming acts ran through their own sets to warm up the audience. Owl Fly South was up first, a psychedelic pop-rock outfit fronted by current TORCHES bassist Braeden Henderson. As they’ve only just released their first single, “Blink,” Owl Fly South is a young band. You’d never know it from hearing their tight stage show, however. It sounded like they had been playing together for ages.
Mt. Ossa was on second, another young band with a bit more of an atmospheric, jam session vibe. While they’ve got plenty of good songs, something was a little off. They seemed to be losing themselves in their own noise. Guitarists trade vocal duties in between songs, making it feel like a different band had started up each time. Mt. Ossa’s bassist was the thread tying them together and oddly enough, he was the only one that could really be heard.
After much anticipation, TORCHES took to the stage. They blasted into their set with a three-way group drum intro led by percussionist Eric Fabbro, and then broke straight into “Out of the Desert.” Fabbro’s drumming was a driving force throughout the whole show, a force that complemented Azad Cheikosman’s solid guitar work without ever becoming overpowering. It was real harmony, allowing every musician onstage to shine without eclipsing the whole.
A big sound came out of this show, much bigger than you’d expect from an indie-rock three piece, even when they were occasionally joined by extra members on keys and violin. Cheikosman must loop his own jangling riffs live, because he managed to make one Telecaster sound like three. “When You Gonna” and “If the People Stare” from the band’s latest EP made their way into the set, and they sounded just as good through The Echo’s amps as they do through headphones in a quiet room. The sort of old school Radiohead sound of TORCHES’ records is improved by the vitality of a live show. Cheikosman finished off the set by shouting “Let me out of here!” and literally climbing up the walls.
Members of the crowd who stuck around after TORCHES were in for a treat. Breakfast took the stage around midnight, playing a kind of synth-pop comparable to groups like The Knife or Niki & The Dove, but with more grit and soul. The evening’s braver audiences were glad to scoff at those who left early that Monday night. Hangover-shmangover.
Memorial Day was truly memorable. TORCHES and their friends put on a fantastic show, so shame on anyone who missed it. But don’t beat yourself up too much; they’ll be back soon enough.