By day three of Red Bull’s 30 Days in LA, the music storm was coming in hot. Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre housed Tuesday night’s packed event. Apparently the show sold out within a day of the general ticket release. All signs pointed toward a promising roster of artists; unfortunately, not everyone met the bar. Opening solo artists AKUA and Race Banyon received audience reviews as chilly as the night’s air. In spite of the cold weather outside and equally frosty attitudes inside, things warmed up at the show when famed indie pop duo Sylvan Esso graced the stage and blew the other acts out of the game.
New Zealand delivers house/electronic music producer Eddie Johnston under the moniker Race Banyon. This timid one-man-band takes the stage equipped with only a small table, a MacBook and some mild courage. He produces a symphony of new wave electronica mixes that work better as chic ambient music for a club versus a packed live show – proving that house music is a hard sell indoors. His lack of crowd acknowledgement or engagement only makes matters worse. A fairly full audience spreads out across the general floor, but they seem to be underwhelmed as everyone rudely goes about their business talking over the music. They treat the set as purely atmospheric and appear unmoved by any of Race Banyon’s efforts. The one saving grace is a sultry remix of Craig David’s “Fill Me In.” At least now he starts to show hints of personality at this point as he is bobbing his head to the beat. Yet, he still does not manage to make eye contact with anyone and swiftly takes an exit.
The room’s morale lifts in anticipation for the headliner. It brings a wave of anxiousness over the crowd as they busily guzzle down glowing cocktails and chit chat about how much longer they have to wait for the show to start. The long wait for Sylvan Esso is painful, but worth it. This electronic pop pair only has one album and a couple years under its belt, but this much talent could pierce through any barrier. Accordingly, they have grown quite the strong following from their show at The Troubadour earlier this year to Tuesday’s event at the much larger Fonda – having sold out both venues in the blink of an eye.
What a change of pace it is from the lackluster opener to the energetic and emphatic Sylvan Esso taking the room by storm. The room erupts with utter excitement as people are bewitched by the seductive bass lines and serpentine gypsy dance moves of singer Amelia Meath. Her smooth voice ethereally tickles each note. Meath’s counterpart Nick Sanborn nods along in approval. Together they create a truly magical experience. Sanborn mentions early on that they will take quite a few breaks to thank everyone because they not only sold out this show in the matter of a day, but it also marks the final date of touring for their first album. He notes that they now need to go home and start working on the next record, to which everyone cheers. Their new music stabs a nail into their first album, crazing out a slew of faster, danceable offspring that satisfy the need to for more of this music. When they break out with new songs “Dance” and “Radio,” the dance invitation is too tempting to pass on, and the entire space swarms with moving bodies.
It appears SE truly have a thankful air that is so endearing. They even decide to team up with Red Bull to donate part of the night’s proceeds to The Water Foundation. Everybody wins here. Red Bull continues to promote amazing artists on the rise all month long with everything from hip hop to indie alternative blazing through venues all over Los Angeles. This week still has more acts to check out including Joy Basa$$, Chromeo, The Suffers, and Shura.
Sylvan Esso Setlist
Could I Be
Play It Right
photo credit: Koury Angelo / Red Bull Content Pool