The word “extraordinary” loses its meaning when its easy to walk to three different extraordinary events on any given night. L.A. is so lush right now and it’s making us blasé. An example? Sean Carnage has been throwing his all-ages freak fests for almost five years now, and each week he turns a spot in a strip mall into the most challenging, diverse, and awesome club in town. Yet the excellence of his shows has become so routine that a lot of people just stand outside and drink while the bands play.
Every once in a while, though, there are nights that serve as reminders of why we all started coming out in the first place. On Monday, Sean hosted a birthday rager for Kyle Mabson, his roommate and the official party engine of Pehrspace. A double-sized crowd appeared to celebrate Kyle’s special day and check out a solid-from-top-to-bottom lineup of performers that was headlined by Abe Vigoda. Sure, there were still people in the parking lot—but that’s only because the venue was too sweaty and insane for their sensibilities.
After watching the Lots o’ Crap show at Tribal Cafe, I got to Pehr about halfway through Signals. I realize that it’s a silly metaphor, but they sounded like a space shuttle in mid-takeoff, their roar only punctured by stops between every song to wish Kyle a happy birthday. Guitarist Bill Gray growled and rumbled throughout the whole show as his cousin Jon hunched over a microphone singing in a tone that at times reminded me of… Henry Rollins? Jacob Cooper, the drummer, bounced from hard-core to calypso-like with the aid of some recorded beats. All of it came together really well.
Somebody standing by me said, “This shit reminds me of Chicago,” but I didn’t really know what he meant by that. I’m not an expert, but I doubt that Chicago was ever this jittery, this manic, or this sing-songy.
Next was Breezee One, a rapper from Detroit via San Francisco who made an incredible splash on her first night in LA. Anyone at this show who missed Breezee missed something spectacular. I couldn’t take notes on the show because by the second song I’d been turned into a slobbering, lurching, possessed dance zombie. I wasn’t the only one, either—the rapper spent most of the show colliding with grinding fools who kept shedding overcoats as the beat pulsed. I guess she was like Peaches, but mostly because she was confidently sexual. Maybe she was a bit like Hawnay Troof, but only because she was funny. Perhaps she was like Juiceboxxx, although in reality it’s just her energy that makes that comparison sensical.
Oh… I guess she was just Breezee. Go see her next time, you’ll understand.
I was convinced that she’d stolen the show, but I was wrong: there was more madness to come. The Birthday Boy Himself sat at the drums for the next band, another chapter in a seemingly endless parade of absurdly-named supergroups that Kyle throws together every month or so. XBoXRoX, fronted by Vice Cooler, was awesome. They were heavy as all hell, and they drove the audience absolutely nuts. People were beating the shit out of each other and moshing like teenagers—including the band’s leather-clad singer, who was a blur for most of the performance. A friend of mine described Kyle’s drumming as having a “machine gun” sound, and I agree partially. The difference is that machine gunners reload sometimes. Kyle, on the other hand, never stops.
After them came the headliners. It says a lot about a crowd when it sticks around late on a Monday, but Sean’s isn’t an ordinary crowd (despite my previous observations) and this wasn’t an ordinary band (even by his standards). They finally took the stage at around one o’clock in front of an audience that was hardly diminished. I was stoked because hadn’t seen them in a while. Yet after the frenzy of the last three acts, the audience relaxed a bit for Abe Vigoda. Pleased by the relative calm, I stood in the back for the first part of their show and jotted down notes about how they had mastered their formula and, like U2 or Springsteen or any other institution band, had refined a signature sound into an epic distillation of itself.
I thought they were excellent, but I honestly didn’t have too much new to say about them. It was Abe Vigoda. They’re great- duh. Cool, right?
Then came the disco.
A synth in Abe Vigoda! What a perfect fit! The guys seemed a little embarrassed about it for some reason, but amongst the audience there was no question that this was a revelation. Newly-crowned keyboardist Juan Velasquez looked like he was about to die of a joy attack whilst weaving pop arpeggios and sweeping melodies into the band’s patented rolling lilt. Abe Vigoda has no shortage of pre-existing anthems (“All Night and Day,” “Skeleton,” “House”), but the new dance songs are anthemic in an altogether different way: they sparkle.
Man, this band is on to something.