October 15th, 2009 |

There’s something special about the way feet look while dancing in black Converse—something slightly caterpillar-like—it’s as though something has happened at the ankles, like they’ve become unhinged. It allows the rest of the body to move in a more fluid way than it does when dancing in, say, cowboy boots or some other rigid form of footwear. I don’t spend my free time thinking about the physics of feet and shoes, rather, this is an observation I made at the Light FM’s Monday night residency (which continues until October 28th) at Spaceland, where I witnessed one of the most impressive displays of Converse-clad dancing I have ever seen.

Light FM, the brainchild of front-man Josiah Mazzaschi—who started the band while living in Chicago but has since re-located to Los Angeles—played the hell out of their new self-released record Let Their Be Light FM, which was not a surprise but was an impressive feat seeing as Mazzaschi only recently solidified his backing band, having played all of the instruments himself during the album’s recording. The five-piece, who have only played together for a few shows, were unbelievably tight, and seemed completely comfortable (albeit hot and maybe a little sweaty) playing underneath Spaceland’s multi-colored lights.

Speeding things up early on with totally radio-ready anthem “Friends Aren’t Friends,” Mazzaschi set a cheerful tone for the show, letting the lyrics fly over the crowd, who bopped along in that way only the driving melody of a pop song can make you bop (particularly one man in the front, the aforementioned Converse dancer, who perhaps bopped along harder than the rest of the crowd). Following “Friends Aren’t Friends” with “Black Magic Marker” from the band’s previous album, the crowd began to sing along and I realized, suddenly, that this was one of this first shows I’ve been to in a while where it seemed as though everyone in the venue was actually watching the band play with rapt attention, not looking around for people they might recognize, drunkenly making puppy eyes at a cute lady or gentleman, or some similar pursuit of the only semi-connected reveler. Each song jammed along harder than the last, and the combination of Sophia Male’s spacey, happy-go-lucky pop synths; Mazzaschi’s high, classic indie rock vocals; Nicole Fiorentino’s tight bass; and Byron Reynolds’ near-perfect drums, made for one of the best pop shows I’ve seen in a long time.

The polished performance combined with Mazzaschi’s casual stage presence, singing each song flawlessly and giggling while talking to the crowd, made it feel as though Spaceland was filled with his entire family and closest friends, while also feeling like we were in the presence of a band that really knew its stuff. The performance seemed incredibly earnest despite the musicians’ obvious mastery of their craft—which often leads to musicians coming off as disaffected and their performance seeming off-the-cuff and careless. Instead, Light FM revealed themselves as the best kind of band to see live—genuinely talented and committed to playing their songs well, but also fun and filled with youthful energy. It was clear that all five members of Light FM put their hearts into it, and the crowd certainly did the same. All you had to do to was look towards the front row, where you would find the most enthusiastic pair of dancing Converse in all of Los Angeles.

Maud Deitch