WARBLY JETS + THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE @ THE MOROCCAN LOUNGE
Photos by Marcos Manrique. Words by Madison Desler.
It’s a phrase you hear more and more these days—“Rock is dead,” being whispered by nervous A&R guys, or shouted by members of the older guard who want to protect what they once had. Whoever’s saying it didn’t bother to tell Warbly Jets, the LA outfit who blasted through their self-titled debut album at The Moroccan Lounge last night—peddling a brand of massive, straight-ahead rock that started its decline as soon as the Gallaghers stopped talking to each other.
With five singles and plenty of premature press, Warbly Jets dug themselves a bit of a hole—the noisey buzz has given them enviable visibility, but also plenty of expectations to meet. It was with targets on their backs that they hit the stage—an extended, feedback-filled intro giving the impression that they’re already playing the Bowl, not one of the smallest venues in LA. Launching into the monster riff of one of their best songs, “The Lowdown,” they nearly blew the walls down—the hip crowd and sexy lighting making it feel like we were in their future Levis commercial.
They flexed their muscles on “Shapeshifter,” the polished production of the album rubbing off to reveal a stomping, thrashing, hurricane of Ethan Snyder’s gargantuan drums and a wall of fuzzed-out guitars—with keyboardist Julien O’Neill losing his mind during the industrial, heavy-ass breakdown. They went on to flex their professionalism, bringing out a three-piece horn section for “Ride,” then adding a bongo player, and a powerhouse female vocalist named Camille Lourde for the last third of the set—a Rolling Stones amount of personnel for a band that, until today, hadn’t released an album. By the time they brought out Marlon Rabenreither of Goldstar and C.G. Roxanne and the Nightmares, it felt like the LA-indie version of the Hall of Fame jams where everyone plays “Rockin’ In The Free World.” Though skillfully performed, it was this string of songs (“4th Coming Bomb,” “Getting Closer (Than I Ever Have)”) that fell the most flat, the swirl of Verve strings and Primal Scream arrangements a bit too on the retreaded Brit-pop nose to be exciting.
In a world where the thrift-slop look of overall-clad Mac DeMarco has become the Viceroy-smoking norm, the lean and lanky boys of Warbly Jets looked sharp in their sleek head-to-toe black—the painted-on jeans and spikey leather shoes only adding to the coke-sniffing, model-dating aura they already project. Frontman Sam Shea—the lankiest of all—absolutely looks the part of rock god, his halo of golden curls surrounding a heavy-lidded face that bears a striking resemblance to Jimmy Page. He’s got plenty of charisma, though it’s surprisingly understated—present in a hoist of a guitar above his head or the way he played off of lady Camille.
The highlight of the night was the glammy, “Raw Evolution,” its chant-along chorus and lack of self-seriousness making it impossible to resist. Impossible to resist may prove to be the story for Warbly Jets, their impressive musicianship and fat riffs definitely filling a void in the hippy-psych-heavy LA scene. Rock fans will either love them—pegging them with the burdensome title of rock n roll saviors—or hate them for their overtly referential, backwards-looking grab at the mainstream.They’re too cool and too good not to find a substantial fanbase—how much credibility they’ll have remains to be seen.
The show was opened by The Entire Universe, a merry band of misfits from other LA bands—featuring one member in a wheelchair and one in a beret and cheetah-print pants. Their easy-going set featured a wide-range of post-punk/garage revival sounds and catchy melodies. “We’re The Entire Universe,” frontman Jeffertitti Moon told the crowd, “and so are you.”