March 1st, 2017 | Live reviews

Summer Moon @ The Troubadour

Summer Moon @ The Troubadour

Photos by Debi Del Grande Words by Ron Garmon

I was sitting in up near the rafters watching this fabled venue fill when Prince’s “1999” began to blare through the house speakers. Since I covered my first show at this fabled venue a few months before that fabled year, I marveled at making it upstairs without a walker. The embryonic audience showed a similar lack of animation but that would change and soon.

The lights dimmed and I clambered back down in time for the opening act, led by tiny bleached-blonde Anna Bulbrook (The Airborne Toxic Event, founder GirlschoolLA), who dominated the set with swooping outsized vocals, much birdlike darting about the stage and a few passes at the violin, all the while surveying the scene before her with dreamy disinterest and the band hammered away behind her. These were The Bulls, this was their china shop, and they finished to brief but intense applause for a superb turn.

Summer Moon @ The Troubadour

The Bulls @ The Troubadour

The wait for the next act began as more patrons arrived, while those already dug in nuzzled, guzzled, and chatted. I wandered outside around the block for several deep hits of indica shake, this leisurely business holding my attention until just before the next set. By then the place was jammed with longtime scene people, excited UCLA kids, and what looked like a good many first-wave Strokes fans, the latter distinguishable by their hard-eyed stoicism. Anon came a dancer waving a streamer and she capered gracefully before Mereki emerged, strode to the mic and immediately killed it. Pale, slender and intense, she sings what used to be called “radio-ready songs” and her band’s sound is late-20th century futuristic with plenty of soft synth lines and loping percussion. Many dug, some danced, and I stood there cheerfully wondering how many times I’m going to live through the late 1970s. Her short set was well-received and the gathering horde waited for the top of the bill.

Summer Moon is the new band/side project from The Strokes’ Nikolai Fraiture with the L.A. heavyweight likes of Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, Camila Grey, Uh Huh Her and ex-Airborne Toxic Event bassist Noah Harmon who steps in on guitar. They have a brand new album called With You Tonight and started the party off with “Happenin'” from same. Their songs get played on KROQ, as Fraiture let us know after the quartet shuffled in hooded like glammy druids and began to throw down impressively. One lady near me, her face a grim mask until the lights went down, melted entirely and began jumping and dancing. More followed, and Fraiture clearly gloried in the hullabaloo, standing atop a speaker and mugging heroically for the crowd. A tall, chiseled fellow built along the lines of a 1950s TV western hero, he seemed too large for the tiny room and the band’s gleaming cyborg-dance pop psychedelia cranked up ambient temperatures to something almost springlike. The authoritative Mr. Fraiture assured us the last song was indeed the last song and, with a final burst of frantic speed, so it was. The doors were thrown wide, we were congratulated for having turned out on a miserable Monday night and that was that.