MY LAtest ADVENTURE
Temecula, CA – Having just recently returned from Los Angeles’ Silverlake, (#1 hipster district in US - Forbes), I had gone up to LA both on business and pleasure this time. As a tea drinker, I had my eye on a hot pot water boiler a friend had gotten in Chinatown. Plus that same friend was recouping from some shoulder surgery and lived one district over from where Silverlake’s The Satellite Club was having the band I wanted to see. How hard could it be?
The Mowglis, a band that I made friends with and saw very recently at The Vault had left such an impression that a second look in LA was a doable.
The trip up went smooth and uneventful. My friend was glad to see me and we caught up that Friday, then chilled. Saturday we took the scenic route into Chinatown and shopped like tourists. I got my air pot. Though the weather was grand, the mileage took a toll on my friend and so when the evening came, I took off for the show in Silverlake by myself. I had mapped out the route on the web so I wasn’t worried.
Standing at the bus stop having deduced a single route closest to my destination, an attractive young woman wearing biking gear pulled up and greeted me, “Hello my fellow bus traveler.” She said. I knew the night was going to be a night of surprises [LA style].
‘Mama Kat’, I found out, was a cellist and played in a band that had done a very remarkable gig at the very private Soho Club (28 in the world). As it turned out, MK used her smart phone to further zone in on my proposed route to the Satellite. It started the next stop from where she was getting off. Cool.
Departing the bus in a very urbanized part of town almost underneath a freeway complete with short on-off ramps, I looked at an intersection almost with 3 streets converging. Soon an uphill two block walk led to a corner where I turned and saw the steepest hill I had ever seen in my life, the second surprise of the night. It was even steeper on the way back down, but after the dog park, the hipster-with-dog-way-to-hook-up, I arrived at the club, The Satellite, once known as Spaceland. The mirrored Saturn disco ball still spins slowly casting tiny revolving squares of light around the room.
The club is two thirds dance floor with a wall divider and tables separating the one third barroom area and front door. Tables are in the barroom area and along the back walls in both rooms. A long bar with bartenders runs the length of the barroom and attentive barmaids circulate through the crowd.
On this night, the first of the 3 sets, a group called The Silver Lake Chorus, has packed the place. TSLC, a twenty something group of twenty-somethings is billed as ‘rocking choral arrangements of indie music since early 2010 and exudes both the edgy, independent spirit of Silver Lake and the heart of community choral singing.’ The hipster chorus was a pleasant LA surprise.
Up next was the group that I took two buses and one train transfer to see, The Mowglis, who were performing with the full 8 members of the total band; the Temecula show had featured 6 members of the LA based band. The stage show did bump up a notch especially since the regular frontman was back in the lineup. The sparkplug leader added that extra element of performance and also rounded out the sound as did the second regular member joining them.
You see folks, the musicians in this band multi-task onstage. They don’t just play music or sing. Most of the members play, sing, and dance, all while recalling a Starship/Mama’s & Papa’s blend of harmonies due to the strong vocals of the only female in the band. The upbeat music tempo and positive lyrics also lend that 70’s retro bounce. Maybe the surprise here was how much better the band was with the full lineup. Hopefully the next time the whole band can roll down to Temec. WOTS was that Sal ala Master Splinter, is trying to hook something up for that to happen.
But as I trudged back up and down ‘the hill from hell’ my ears and memories of the night were still on the biggest surprise of the night, and the title of this piece, ‘Funnel of Love’. Though that wordplay may seem double entendre, it actually refers to a song the band named Terraplane Sun does and is their best song (IKHO*), track 8, on the release Coyote. The song is the most radio friendly tune on the CD that also uses an extended instrumental bridge which is based in a jazz/blues riff for contrast.
My mole on the scene had hipped me to two things, the aforementioned song and the lead singer’s distinctive voice that lends a nasal whine to songs that seem urban blues/new Americana, think John Mellencamp. The past month (August) Terraplane Sun had been in residence at The Satellite every Monday night, often packing the place. Now they would be going out on tour with The Mowglis up the Cali coast. This was their last show before hitting the road (the tour has been completed as this story was scheduled to run ten days ago, but a funny thing happened on the way to posting, Mitt Willard Romney).
Onstage the five piece band reveals itself to be as accomplished in talented accompaniment to the frontman’s unique voice. The night’s surprise for me, Terraplane Sun, was validated when my LA friend upon listening to the CD the next day, rushed in to his room to copy to his iTunes.
The TS songs have a gritty industrial feel mixed in with a carefree blues swing accentuated by a harmonica on occasion. By contrast, Funnel of Love is a throwback to the R&B/rock ‘n’ roll late 50’s/early 60’s tempo, structure, and style, sans the jazz infused segue bridge. The song brings a bright ray of sunlight to the other infectious but moody blues/Americana songs. Repeated playing of the CD just ups the appreciation of song crafting skills that yield an end result so pleasing to the ears.
(*- In Katter’s humble opinion – Ed)