Traces of the ’80s, hints of grunge and a whole lot of hip characterized the crowd that gathered for the fifth installment of Red Bull Sound Selects Presents: Los Angeles at The Echo. Local artists Breakfast, Guardian, and Gothic Tropic opened up for Com Truise who aptly describes his style as “mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk.”
Breakfast kicked it off with the whimsical, eerie electro-beats of “Grizzly Adams.” The song evokes imagery of a dark, modernized Grimm fairy tale, especially with lead vocals Andrea Adolph singing lyrics like “Tell them that story / You told me last night / That beauty reveals me and cradles / Convince me / Sweeps me off my feet.” Adolph has both a haunting quality to her voice and the ability to give an audience goosebumps with her timely screams. That ability is best showcased in the slower, livid tune “Scarred,” in which she draws out a few lengthy, raw “ooh ahh’s”. At times, the band sounds like a retro combination Kavinsky’s 2010 song “Night Call”, which features Lovefoxxx, and The xx, especially on tracks that feature the vocal talents of male members. Breakfast continuously delivers this vibe with the electronic background and the male-female lyrical back-and-forth.
Following Breakfast was Joy Division-esque band Guardian. Deep vocals, hard-driving beats, and ’80s synth pop combined with the smokey atmosphere of the venue and the two spinning disco balls hanging from the ceiling truly made for a time traveling experience. The brightly backlit band seemed to be transforming the ambiance as they went on with their spacey, almost dreamlike sound and the crowd didn’t mind at all, offering nods of approval and general enjoyment. The high point of their performance came with “Night Will Come,” arguably the catchiest song on their set list, which is sure to make anyone feel like they’ve just stepped in to an episode of Knight Rider , what with its after-sunset electronic vibe.
The evening appeared to have jumped forward a full decade from the ’80s-centric mixes of Guardian when trio Gothic Tropic took to the stage. The band gave off a distinctive ’90s garage band energy and began immediately with an avant-garde intro. Although there were a few issues with the sound not coming across as clearly as would be desired, it was impossible to ignore the fact that both lead vocalist/guitarist Cecilia Della Peruti and lady-drummer Liv Marsico absolutely rocked, while Daniel Denton kept it cool and steady on the bass. Despite technical difficulties with the Marsico and Peruti’s mics, their humor and enthusiasm on stage kept the audience in good spirits. There was even an impromptu “Happy Birthday” sung and some talk of blood-signed t-shirts. They ended their set with the experimental yet playful, jungle-y rhythm of “Monkey Bars.”
When headliner Com Truise, also known as Seth Haley, finally stepped on to the stage with a live drummer, two beer cans, a laptop and some impressive equipment, yelps of excitement began to erupt from the crowd. The smooth synth sounds of “Controlpop” started to play around midnight, which meant feel-good head banging and arm-raising for the more outgoing concert-goers and mild swaying for the shier ones. As the night progressed, however, all-out dancing proved to be inevitable. The funkier tracks from Com Truise like fan-favorite “VHS Sex” managed to rile up the crowd into fits of applause and fist-pumps. The evening grooved along, going from futuristic to electronic to even, at times, aquatic until finally it was announced that they would be wrapping up soon, which earned a loud, disappointed “aww!” from everyone in the room. The energy immediately perked up, however, when the electro-maestro returned to the stage to dish out three more songs, including, to the delight of his fans, a newer track.
Overall, the bands that came together at The Echo worked well with each other keeping an industrial, electronic thread throughout the entire showcase and providing a great build up to the enchanting atmospheric stylings of Com Truise.