FLAT WORMS + POW! + THE MAD WALLS + CAT SCAN @ THE ECHO
Photos by Stephanie Port Words by Madison Desler
The Echo rolled out a heavy lineup last night as part of FOMO Week—the venue’s long-standing tradition of showcasing baby bands in January, grouping them into free shows to get the new year started off right. The solid crowd of beanie-wearing patrons that ventured out into the frigid sub-60 weather were treated to the “Post-Punk” package, as band after band with varying levels or art-school weird and pogo-punk energy took to the stage.
First up was Cat Scan, a group of kids as wiry as their riffs. Though they went on at the ungodly hour of 8:30, they had the most raw energy of the night. These guys have one speed—fast—exceeding what one would think the limit is for how fast human fingers can go. Like a CBGB locomotive, they smashed through their entire set, barely pausing to take a breath, and leaving a trail of dance-punk hi-hat and blasted-out ear drums in their wake. They capped things off with an all-out audio assault that had Quincy Larsen sliding her hand up and down the fretboard like she was trying to get it off.
Next up were The Mad Walls, playing a muddier, somewhat mellower version of what we had just heard. Infusing their sound with heavy psych, porto-metal, and garage, the end result was more Mary Jane than speed, speed, speed. The kind of stuff you float downstream to, instead of blasting through the fucking walls.
POW! took to the stage after a whale-sounds meets extra-terrestrial keyboard intro, which set the tone for the relentless waves of warped keys and glitchy drums that followed. Their set was a constant wall of sound—a Suicide-style test of stamina and taste—sporadically interrupted by ominous vocals from a thin man in ghoul-white face paint.
It was with our palettes cleansed that Flat Worms started their set. The powerhouse trio released their debut LP in October with John Dwyer’s Castle Face Records—a match made in heaven considering they’ve taken more than a few pages out of his thrashy, beat-to-hell, multi-chaptered Oh Sees book. They come from the school of play it loud, play it fast, and play it tight—the kind of philosophy that makes Flat Worms the best show you’re ever going to see in LA…for free…on a Wednesday. Kicking things of with “Motorbike,” a standout from the album, it was lightening-quick—like a strobe-light—waking up anyone who may have dozed off on one of the pleather banquettes. Will Ivy’s vocals, detached and sardonic on record, became manic, his body wound as tightly as their music. Tense, motorik, and goddamn fast, “11816” and “Accelerated” were fired off with unreal precision—played after a request from the audience for “more guitar!” After the crunchy, feedback-ravaged assault of “Goodbye Texas” and “Pearl,” it seemed a moot point considering everyone’s ears are probably still ringing.