No, not the same show. That would have been… insane. Not that the Fuck Buttons weren’t insane, so let’s begin there.

Tuesday: I get out of work and hustle up into Silverlake to meet up with my friend Chris. We share beers with some old friends and then head off to the Troubador for the Fuck Buttons. The Buttons, if you don’t know, are a two piece musical cabal from London who use all manner of electronic devices to manipulate sound into what I feel could best be described as an unlikely but completely palatable union of A) extreme noise theory and B) vintage rave-era Trance. Sound cool?

It most definitely is. Loud too. REALLY FREAKIN’ LOUD.

We missed the opener-opener but arrived in time to watch LA local Sun Araw play and… well, my mother always told me if you can’t say anything nice, say something bad, so here goes. Maybe I just didn’t get it – to me it seemed clear Sun Araw is trying to be a part of the Hauntology scene but from what I saw live it just doesn’t quite work. Droning rhythms are fine, but there’s an awful lot of fairly self-indulgent heavily-delayed fuzz wah soloing going on – the kind of guitar everyone who has a guitar and some pot enjoys playing from time to time alone in their room but most learn fairly early on in band experiences not to subject other folks (esp. an audience) to. Plus, sorry, but any derivations on the typical hipster outfit that consists of foamy baseball cap, longish sloppy hair and post-ironic 70’s cop moustache thing automatically takes a performer down a notch in my book. Fickle? Maybe, but after twenty minutes or so of self-indulgent noodling I think I’ve a right to be a bit fickle.

Anyway, after that little distraction the Fuck Buttons came out. Let me set the scene:

A double-wide card table occupied the majority of the stage. Bowed slightly in the middle said table was piled high with everything you would expect from a duo whose signature sound is as electronic in nature as The Buttons’. Everything, that is, except for the one component that almost goes without saying nowadays – no laptop. Mixers, keyboards, sequencers, a modded gameboy and a host of effect pedals were just some of the detritus that littered the table and the floor around it. The band, comprised of Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power, stand across from one another like men playing the championship round of a foosball tournament and tweak out repetitive yet ever-evolving sounds that meet and congeal into what is probably more accurately labeled as ‘suites’ than songs. Some are rhythmic, some are melodious, some are painfully transient and, well, some are downright antagonistic. But this is good. With opposites often comes harmony, i.e. Sweet and sour sauce, night and day, Starsky and Hutch*. This is also the case with the music made by The Fuck Buttons. There is no coincidence that words like ‘solar’ and ‘magick’ pop up in their titles – there’s a kind of cosmic overtone to their music that makes you feel warm and fuzzy and yet completely in danger all at the same time. Doubly so live.

Two days later I returned to The Troubador with my friend Gina, this time to see my current musical obsession, Quebecois four-piece The Besnard Lakes. If you read my previous blog you know how much I’m loving their recently released record The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, and let me just say that The Lakes are one of those groups who translate their dreamy, reverb-drenched shoegazer rock perfectly to a live environment. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

We arrived a little too late to see more than just two or three songs from opening band Infantree. A four-piece, Infantree is an acoustic-based group from the San Fernando Valley who brilliantly incorporate four-part harmonies, keyboards, acoustic guitar and banjo (among other things) with jazz drumming into what reminds me a little bit of 16 Horsepower, a little bit of CSNY and A LOT of what acoustic music can be when not relegated to the coffeehouse bourgeoisie. Very nice guys, I’m looking to buy whatever you have to sell and you can hear for yourself here:

http://www.myspace.com/infantreemusic


Second on Thursday was Happy Hollows. I have to say that both Gina and I thought the Hollows started out somewhat bland but by the third song we were both confirmed fans. Guitarist/front woman Sarah Negahdari’s high-pitched and often shriek-ish vocals settled in very nicely after a song or two and shone for what they were: passion-inspired fun that coasted along just beneath her larger-than-life guitar abilities which ranged from the evocatively understated to the screaming sonic cannon ala Sonic Youth and even at one point EXPLODED into a full-out finger tapping assault reminiscent of Marnie Stern or perhaps even Rust in Peace-era Marty Friedman. Complemented nicely by rhythm section Charlie Mahoney, Chris Hernandez not to mention a revolving cast of guest guitarists these guys rocked brazeningly hard and added a healthy dose of indie sonics to the evening. The perfect warm-up for…

The Besnard Lakes. Jesus, if you read the album review I posted of these guys last week you’ll know I was almost tongue-tied over the absolute mastery of their song craft. Well, now I can say that mastery translates 100% live. The band opened with the lush two-part Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent – also the album opener – and I can assure you I had freakin’ tears in my eyes as the immense and aptly-titled oceanic sound washed over me at the foot of  stage right and carried me away to the special synesthetic soundscape The Besnard Lake’s music takes me to in my head. From there the group played most of the newer album, a few tracks I’m assuming are off their previous (second) album The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse (haven’t got that yet) and closed with a track named Thomasina off their first album, Volume 1, that absolutely leveled me. All in all, a great two nights of shows.

I’m simply going to close by directing folks to go to any of these bands sites and listen to them. If you dig, buy tracks or albums or whatever. It is harder than ever for independent bands to make it in the music industry today and we all know what state  popular music is in** right now, so now more than ever we HAVE to support the bands and artists we like if we want them to continue to enrapture us with good, new music.

http://thehappyhollows.blogspot.com/

http://www.thebesnardlakes.com/

And that’s a ‘Cheers’ ladies and gentlemen while I go lose myself in beer and music.

………….

* Damn that Hutch!!!

** Not the worst its ever been, but yeah, still kinda sucks, right?