FoundTrack homegal Jody (When You Awake) put together a Free For All Festival at the echo this afternoon/evening. I unfortunately had to take off early as my bedtime was passing but I still was able to see a few standouts.
Metuchen New Jersey's Roadside Graves, the recent signing of local label Autumn Tone Records, was very convincing with a set reminding me of The Felice Brothers, The Hold Steady and Titus Andronicus or if you're still unfamiliar The Boss. The night before they played a show in Venice beach to a crowd that resembled the gangs in Warriors and learned that if you have fun playing with each other then maybe the crowd will follow your lead....or at least that's what they said when facing the daunting task of riling up a typically unmoved LA hipster-stick figure batch in a dark room on a sunday afternoon, but with each composition in their set they gained movement and followers. Their music seems charged at times but as the name suggests deals with motifs of mortality. I appreciated the way lead singer John Gleason is so earnest when corralling the microphone yet steps back when his voice isn't needed and draws the crowd to the attention of his bandmates by dancing with them and sometimes grinding them as they manage their instrumental solos. At one point, John graciously acknowledged a girl in the audience from the Venice show the night before and made sure she had a copy of their album. It's this kind of loyalty and appreciation of fandom that's needed in this business. They finished their set off with a non-electric jam session in the middle of the standing floor of the echo. I'm seeing this more often now from bands and the specialty is waring off but this time didn't seem contrived and with full spirit. Roadside Graves will play another show in the same room on Tuesday supporting Cotton Jones and The Parson Red Heads.
Local alt. country outfit Hi Ho Silver Oh were next on my agenda. They played possibly their biggest show thus far at the Echoplex stage and held their own quite well. They remind me of a mix between The Fleet Foxes, Local Natives, Bon Iver and Magnolia Electric Company. Somehow their was some interference in the sound with a Mexican radio but as lead singer Casey Trela commented, it was "unintentionally artistic". They are comforting to watch on stage. Three of the four members grew up together in North Carolina and the other member Phil helped put this entire festival together. Hi Ho plays another show with Family of the Year at Silverlake Lounge on Sept. 6th.
Finally, I had to check out Don Juan Y Los Blancos from the veritable LA label you've never heard of , Wild Records, which i had fortunately heard about in a great article in the LA Times Magazine a few months back by LA Record's Chris Ziegler. Don Juan may be the most effortless frontman I've ever seen but he's as cool as his name suggests. The more provocative force of the Blancos is Becky Blanca ; the spokeswoman invited the crowd to cop-a-field and did more than that to one of their big fans. The rest of the group is great as well due in small part to their sporty yet suspect mustaches. Think they would sound great with another local band Jail Weddings. Don Juan Y Los Blancos are set to perform at Bordello September 18 along with their chief labelmates Luis & The Wildfires for a savage night of Rock N' Roll.
Tune in to When You Awake for more reviews and photos from the rest of the evening.