Colored lights, an open courtyard, and large balloon animals set the scene for KCRW’s event, Into The Night: The Wild Side, which featured headliner Jenny O., In the Valley Below, and Body Parts. Walking into The Skirball Cultural Center in LA, one might have thought the event looked like a cross between prom night and an eight-year-old’s themed birthday party. Live animals, including one fierce looking porcupine, roamed the site, while adults of all ages walked around wearing balloon wings and hats. There was no shortage of distractions at the after-dark concert, but the musical talent was not to be upstaged.
The night began with KCRW DJ Travis Holcombe warming up the stage with a mix of soul/funk until almost 10 pm, at which point he introduced the experimental pop, ’80s-inspired band, Body Parts. They opened with “Desperation,” the first single off of their upcoming album Fire Dream, out October 29th. The song was upbeat and had the still-budding crowd swaying with its strong electronic sound. It was hard to miss the theatricality of this band, not only in their melodies, but also in their performance. Almost yodel-like vocals and synchronized dancing characterized this part of the evening. Ryder Bach’s voice is a bit reminiscent of Neil Finn of Crowded House and although the sound might not have come out as clean as desired, his harmonies with Alina Cutrono were awesome, especially in the synth-pop song “Unavoidable Things.”
The second band to take the stage was In the Valley Below and they did so in style. The boys in the band all wore button-down shirts and suspenders while Angela Gail wore a long, white dress, making it seem as though their sound would go more along the lines of a a folk band, but instead they ended up having a mixture of dreamy pop and gothic rock. Their recordings sound a lot more electronic/pop than the raw power of their live performance. Their set had moments of hard rock, especially Jeffrey Jacob’s tight guitar solo in “Last Soul” and when Gail took out some chains and used them as instruments. Perhaps it was just the chemistry between husband and wife team Jacob and Gail, but there also seemed to be a smooth, sultry quality to their music. An almost vintage-country essence mixed with the electronic sounds from the stage and the almost uncomfortably warm night made for an incredibly appropriate ambiance for a summer concert.
LA local and headliner Jenny O. came on around midnight and pleased the crowd with her delightful, western sound. Her first song was the semi-melancholy, slower beat single “Automechanic” from her latest album of the same name. It conjured up images of cowboys riding into the sunset. Her style is comparable to Carole King or Fleetwood Mac, keeping mellow melodies and ’60s influence. Her energy on stage was similar to the music she plays: sweet and cool. Even when having technical difficulties with her guitar (there was a tuning issue in the middle of her set), she smiled at the crowd and handled it gracefully thanking everyone for “sticking around.” She ended her set with the ballad “Opposite Island,” in which her intro included some amazingly strong, clear vocals. All eyes were on Jenny O. as she sang out “But we are standing on Opposite Island.” It was the most touching performance of the evening.
All in all, KCRW’s Into The Night event was one classy zoo. It showcased some great musical talent– all within the realm of pop and ending in a sincere, honest piece of music from a very gifted artist.
Rest While you Sleep
In the Valley Below
Palm Tree Fire
Jenny O. and the High Society Band
Learned My Lessons
Sun Moon and Stars