June 24th, 2008 |

Saturday night in Little Tokyo, I parked in a loading zone and jumped through the club security check-in at the Cocaine just in time to see On Holiday do its set. Marianne Williams and her shaggy-haired cohort, DJ Urine, played cracklin’ sound collage ditties, with samples and keyboards and beats and smiley, warm female vocals as soft and sweet as a Georgia night among the Mimosa trees.

The timbre of Marianne’s singing really rolls itself around a room, as pitch-perfect and ethereal as Becky Stark from Lavender Diamond, yet somehow more “approachable,” like Williams is enjoying a conversation with the audience that just happens to be expressed in music. She has the classic skill of making it all seem so easy.

Williams’ keyboard sound at the Cocaine was perhaps not as delightful as her voice–the tone reminded me of the commercials for Magic: The Gathering meets the scary catacomb theme in Castlevania. I found out later that the piano-synth she intended to play this night was broken, meaning she had to rely on the kindness of other Cocaine bands for an instrument, and constructed the keyboard arrangements on the spot. No matter. Though I missed the piano component, Williams’s improvised keys still sounded great when contrasted with what DJ Urine was doing on his two Fisher-Price turntables, cutting and cutting and scratching and scratching (and I mean that literally-I saw him drag the arm of one turntable straight across the records playing on the other), his equipment even picking up nearby radio signals, a happy accident that worked with the music. It all was so wonderful, a live “Chrome-Plated Megaphone of Destiny” for the L.A. RECORD set.

Master of Ceremonies Monkey Bucket, a big guy in his fifties wearing a fez, got on stage and announced that the next band, Charts and Maps, would be even better–especially if we purchased some food from the kitchen and tried some drink specials. But we were so buzzed on the musical complexity of On Holiday that we left immediately, hurrying home to enjoy the memory of their splendor while its beauty still permeated our hot and sweaty limbs.

— Dan Collins