THE REGRETTES + THE TRACKS @ LEVITT PAVILION
Photos by Maximilian Ho Words by Chris Kissel
Is there a better way to spend a summer evening than watching a great band at a great outdoor venue with a chill vibe and free popsicles? The summer concert series at the Levitt Pavilion, the mini-bandshell at MacArthur Park, accomplishes this balance of summer coziness and uncommon jams on the regular, and they pulled it off again last night with a show featured local garage pop bands the Tracks and the Regrettes.
The series is produced in conjunction with Spaceland LA, the same team that books shows at the Echo and Echoplex in Echo Park, and it shows: La Chamba, The Buttertones, Jungle Fire, Vieux Farka Toure and Mndsn are among the diverse, inspired local acts who have played or are slated to play there this summer. For anyone who follows L.A. music, a bill featuring the Tracks and the Regrettes, two of the best and the youngest among upstart L.A. rock bands, is kind of a can’t-miss.
The Tracks opened with a short set; because the band has only released a handful of tunes, their live sets still feel very fresh and even a bit tentative. But it’s great to watch a young, talented band like the Tracks as their sound coalesces, especially when they’re so intent on sharing a unique perspective — in their case, an alternate, East L.A.-inspired vision of the garage rock that basically runs this Burger Records-dominated town.
The Regrettes, in comparison, are veterans. Though lead singer Lydia Night is only 16, and her bandmates barely a couple years older, the band has already released a record on a major label — January’s Feel Your Feelings, Fool! After the album came out, the band embarked on a national tour opening for Sleigh Bells, and the practice paid off; from last night’s first growling note, the band sounded tight, together, and — I hope they don’t take this the wrong way — grown up.
The band’s songs are mostly earnest and edifying hymns to the teenage experience, songs about telling off the shit-talkers and talking yourself up, even to yourself. They’re simple, but meaningful — just ask the teens who clamored to the pavilion stage, mouthing the words (“Talk to me like a bitch/ Do you hear the way you speak/Don’t have to be so mean/ Just because you’re weak”) and even starting a vague little mosh pit. The songs succeed musically just as well — the guitars are brash and big; the harmonies are flawless; the drums, courtesy of Maxx Morando, are powerful. It’s a sound that, taken together, underscores Night’s words in the way they deserve while keeping the mood light-hearted.
A closing cover of “Ballroom Blitz” incapsulated much of what was so fun about the show — the promise that rock can still be youthful, enjoyable, even pure. But the most exciting moment of the set may have been “Pale Skin,” the longest cut on Feel Your Feelings, Fool! The song is a little jagged, more lyrically adventurous — it starts by quoting the White Stripes — and recalls the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or King Krule more than, say, the Ronettes or Best Coast, apparent touchstones of most of their work. It’s a song full of promise for the band — that they can channel their prodigious playing and songwriting into an evolving sound. In other words, like the Tracks, the Regrettes are still moving, still growing up. (As, hopefully, are we all.) And that’s a thrill to watch.