The Entrance Band by Aida Daneshvar
There’s simultaneously so much, and yet so little that could be said for Amazing Baby, a band that seemingly materialized out of thin air last year. The first thing that I initially heard about the band was that they’re close friends with MGMT, which is still how people mention them when they ask if I’ve heard their music. Some have already dubbed their scene as “The Wesleyan Mafia,” referring to the exclusive “little ivy” league university where they met MGMT. The Mafia also includes Das Racist (famous for their track “Combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell”) and Boy Crisis, among other artists and creative types. This proves immediately to be of relevance at their show—while talking with some people in line I learn that they specifically came out because they heard the band were alumni from their college. These Wesleyans are apparently a very tight knit group. Let’s start with the opener Night Horse and work our way back to Amazing Baby.
Night Horse, or “NH” as I like to call them, made it extremely clear they’re a Thousand Oaks band and proud of it. Although judging from their music they seemed like they could comfortably make their home above The Whisky or adjacent to The Roxy and fit right in. They pumped some appropriations of Thin Lizzy-on-steroids riffs from a wall of Orange full stacks, but ultimately “NH” is a pretty standard five-piece Sunset Strip “hard” rock combo. You may replace the word hard with any other name you have for cocks. They had solid guitar work, and the frontman gave a competent Chris Robinson from Black Crowes performance with growling Nugent-esque vocals. Their music definitely has an audience, and they put on a good show but they had the misfortune of sharing the same stage as the Entrance Band.
Have you ever stood five feet away from a napalm explosion during the height of the Vietnam War? That’s pretty much what standing in the front row at an Entrance show is like. As the band took the purple-lit stage, bassist Paz Lenchantin gave drummer Derek James a high five and they both smiled, as if in on a secret. I figure that’s pretty much what I’d do before every show if I was about to play these songs live. The nearly full house then bore witness to one of the most intense and, in its own way, heaviest examples of rock music possible. The Entrance Band, playing out of small combo amps, was able to accomplish what both of the bands before and after them couldn’t, even if they combined the gentle magnitude of their rocking.
Each element of this power trio is on point and compliments the whole of the song being performed. Impossibly technical riffs in this band are also impossibly creative as well, building each song to a fevered and rewarding crescendo. I had a chance to meet guitarist and singer Guy Blakeslee after the show, and I felt like Cameron Crow’s character in “Almost Famous,” telling Russell Hammond how incendiary his guitar sound is. Blakeslee truly harnesses the most from an effects unit and a Fender strung upside down of any modern guitarist. Their frenzied performance is captivating, watching Paz’s amazing moves in her high heels and on the fret board and Guy pull huge windmills is something you won’t soon forget. See them while they’re still on fire.
Amazing Baby vocalist Will Roan took the legendary Troubadour stage looking like Andrew W.K.’s prettier evil twin in a black scoop neck t-shirt, black jeans and black Air Jordans. This guy has huge man prettiness, which seemed to be the main reason why the majority of the audience were young girls after the Entrance Band’s fans cleared out. There’s also a good chance the remainder of the men were Wesleyan alumni. I think there was a general interest in finding out if the buzz about “Baby” is deserved. I feel like the answer they gave us is that there is potential for them to be an admirable pop rock act, but they would be far better off opening for the band responsible for their buzz until they develop.
Their brief 6 song set, before they returned to encore, reminded me primarily of Candlebox covering MGMT songs, but strangely in a good way. After 15 years of not thinking about Candlebox, the arrangement of the songs, the dynamic changes and even Will’s vocals brought one of Madonna’s finest Maverick Records signings back to mind. A nice surprise was spotting former The Icarus Line and Soul She Said member Don Devore on bass, a gentleman who seems to pop up in the strangest places.
The singer from Night Horse joined “Baby” on stage with a harmonica, at which point I began to hear a little influence of The Willowz, but that is a Willowz completely zapped of their eccentricities. After watching the music video for set opener “Headdress” you’d assume that they roam around wearing capes in the same magical forest that MGMT live in, but it’s almost like seeing a completely different band in concert. Amazing Baby was enjoyable enough, but after you’ve just watched a wildfire overtake a forest, you probably wouldn’t be very impressed with some kids playing with matches.