By Sarah Bennett
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Heard Mentality: The best of the music, arts & culture blog for the week of Aug. 17-23
For whatever reason, it seems that most of the local bands I write about have only been around for one or two years, and the only “old” bands I come across are the really, really old ones—y’know, the Vandalses or TSOLs of the world. There has to be a middle ground: bands hitting their prime like Dylan in the ’70s or NBC sitcoms in the ’90s (for the purpose of this example, we’ll disavow knowledge of Caroline In the City).
I saw two such midcareer local bands Aug. 19 at Chain Reaction in Anaheim: Hellogoodbye (now based in Long Beach) and Limbeck. They’re both bands I heard a lot about in the early-to-mid-2000s (even from afar), but nothing about either recently. The lack of buzz isn’t shocking—Limbeck haven’t released a full-length record since 2007, and Hellogoodbye have only put out one album, 2006’s Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!
Yet given the sold-out crowd gathered at Chain that night, their fans haven’t abandoned them, even if the place’s typical high-school-aged crowd made me wonder, “How old were these kids when these bands first got big?” Hellogoodbye are working on a new record, and Limbeck’s music—once closely associated with emo, now tending toward alt-country—continues to evolve. It might be easy to write these bands off (after posting on our Twitter that I was watching Limbeck, a reader replied, “wow, 1997 called”—Limbeck formed in 1999, but point taken), but they’ve still got an audience, and still have the potential to capture attention with whatever’s next—as long as that “next” actually happens.
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Here’s another thing I never see in Orange County: live music in South County. Sure, there’s the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest, but I don’t consider it to be all that, uh, southern. Certainly not compared to the epic odyssey I took to Blue Laguna on Aug. 17, to see local bands Oliver Jane and Dash Jacket.
Blue Laguna is a restaurant/bar off PCH that recently started to program DJ nights and live music, in hopes of creating a nightlife destination in Laguna Beach, something that me-type people wouldn’t have previously thought possible. On Mondays, they’ve enlisted the booking power of KUCI to help bring in bands for what are intended to be acoustic sets (punky duo Dash Jacket plugged in and played loud). Blue Laguna marketing director Stefanee Freedman has high hopes for the place but is realistic about a couple of limitations: It’s attached to a Holiday Inn, so they can’t get too loud too late, and it’s small. Like, there were probably about 20 people watching Oliver Jane, and it was nearing “accidentally touching the butt of the dude in front of me” levels of cramped.
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Best wishes go out to Fullerton’s Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, who have had their considerable momentum (Palace and Stage, their second SideOneDummy release, came out in May) slowed after scrapping an East Coast tour. The reason: Bassist Brad Babinsk had an outbreak of mono and shingles. In my extensive research for this column, I Google-image-searched “shingles” and now want to soak in a tub of Epsom salts for the next three days.