It wasn’t that hard to convince a friend to accompany me Monday night and catch the second round of Spirit Vine’s residency at the Echo. After he answered my call with his usual warm welcome of, “What. What do you want?” I asked if he wanted to grab a drink and see a very Jonestown-ish, droney, down and out rock band. He replied, “Sounds promising…Plus, you owe me a drink.”
We arrived after the stupendous and always entertaining Dante vs. Zombies had finished their set. If you have never seen them before, picture a scene out of American Bandstand, where a mass of teens are shimmying around to the modern version of the Seeds. Infectious melodies, catchy hooks and the occasional matching uniform makes for a serious dance party. As Spirit Vine started to set up, I made good on my friend’s condition, rewarding him with the finest alcohol four dollars could buy, a PBR. As more souls found their way to the stage after sprint excursions in chain smoking and enjoying the best of four bucks, LA’s new answer to garage rock took the to the stage. As the band started to let loose, a video projection close to what you would get in an Alejandro Jodorowsky film began to paint the band an eerie blue. Watching the scenery on stage, I felt as if was transported back to the heyday of San Fran’s Civic Auditorium as lead crooner, Jacquelinne Cingolani’s deep and lusty voice bellowed through new material. Her pipes and swagger can make any boy weak in the knees.
The band’s sound is influenced by the heavy weights of psych and classic rock, but similar to rock revivalists, like the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Black Angels, Spirit Vine adds a bit of their own flare to the standard formula. Bassist Scott Bassman’s deep and rolling baseline began to make the glass in my hand vibrate a bit. As the band played on, Bassman’s belly rumbling bass lines were met by the sharp snap of drummer Jalise Woodward’s snare. As the old, grainy, 8mm footage swirled back and forth over Cingolani’s flowing hair, it made for the perfect backdrop for their performance. A few note sparse notes rang on the guitars, backed by echo and reverb, leading into choruses that will loop in your head.
Closing the night’s festivities was the psych-surf rock sounds of Rumspringa. The name is derived from the Amish rite of passage, where Amish teens are allowed to “sow their wild oats.” If they’re anything like the Catholic school kids I knew, they will become quite close with a character by the name of Jack Daniels.—Getting back to the band, lead vocalist and guitarist Joey Stevens is the sort of musician you would give your first born to be able to play like. He has the growl of a young Iggy with the riff expertise of a Jimi. Watching him finger pick on “Criminal Love,” it was as if he ran on auto pilot, as his little magic fingers squeezed out a riff that even had the sound guys taking notice. This would have been a great night to take your dad out, to finally prove to him that you listen to stuff that he would consider music. You can’t listen to Black Flag forever, or wait, strike that from the record, yes you can.
The photographs were shot by a Modern Creature photographer. Look at this video of theirs.