Saturday, March 31
Pete Yorn plays KCRW music, the sort of relatively mellow, brainy tuneage that goes well with your morning cappuccino whilst you're perusing the latest Utne Reader. He's got a great, buzzed-about album, Music for the Morning After; a singer/songwriter's adroit grasp of the Everyman in his lyrics; a voice that's this grand, pronouncing thing, with a sophisticated glint that brings the pipes of Grant Lee Phillips to mind; and he composed the score of Me, Myself and Irene, that Jim Carrey cinematic abortion. But we don't hold that last one against him—we've done much worse for money.
Normally Yorn's got a band with him, but this was an intimate, solo, acoustic affair in Long Beach indie record shop Fingerprints, which pretty much dictated that the gig had to be relatively quiet, lest the volume disturb the snooty, anal, music-hating Belmont Shore neighbors. Yorn confessed he hadn't done the solo thing in a while, but the gangly, unkempt, tousle-haired 26-year-old came off splendidly, stepping up with a guitar that could've really used a new pick guard—there were plenty of ugly, old, strumming skid marks carved into the body. So we planted our asses atop the store's used jazz CD section as Yorn spewed his warm, intimate, personal tunes about love and life, like his movie tune "Strange Condition" and "Life on a Chain" (which on the album sounds kinda like ELO set to a country backbeat —really!) and "For Nancy" (which touched us with the all-too-knowing line "So take your lessons hard and stay with him/And when your car crash comes don't be misled/Convince yourself that everything is all right/'Cos it already is" —ha!) and other random musings such as "Is there something wrong with me?/I'll show you things you've never seen," which he delivered in a way that was both vulnerable and threatening.
Yorn created a prelude to "Nancy" by crooning the opening lines to Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark," all warbled, creeped-out, beaten-up and spooky —"ain't nothin' but tired," indeed. The boy's got a flair for melody and happy little licks, which juxtaposed with his dour, I'm-gonna-grow-my-hair-long-enough-to-hide-my-eyes look quite nicely, as did the darker hues that seemed to color his words more and more with each syllable as his set neared the end.
We liked his stuff, not only because he played for free but also because we snagged a cool, artsy-looking, commemorative Pete Yorn poster when we bought the CD after his set—yes, we mean rock critics really do buy music every now and then.
Caroline Movement/Flood the Void/Turntable
DiPiazza's Restaurant & Lounge
Saturday, March 31
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First, let's rant about the bands: Turntable were okay, but nothing special. We felt a stray, pleasant, Crazy Horse lick on occasion, and this trio's best song was "Catch a Fly," which—minus the momentum-killing, progressive-rock middle portion —was a good chugga-chugga rock & roll tune. Most of their set, though, was kinda mixed and didn't jell for us.
Flood the Void rattled off sludgy, droning, vapid riffs that made our eyes glaze over, particularly when their guitarist performed lame-o gimmicks like playing behind his back and with his teeth.
Caroline Movement were best, like an alternative-country five piece but with the kind of easy-flowing pop hooks that would rival the best of Squeeze, or like the more radio-friendly Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or Wilco tunes (we especially enjoyed pieces like "It's Over," "Black and Blue," and a bunch of other breakup-as-seen-through-the-bottom-of-a-shot-glass songs of theirs).
That said, it's amazing we were able to pay attention to anything going on onstage, thanks to the large party of drunken mooks who set up a Mason-Dixon Line of tables between most of the crowd and the stage and proceeded to carry on as if people were paying cover charges to watch them. What we had here was a case study in unruly crowd behavior: a biker guy with perhaps the most tragic mullet we've ever witnessed on a willing participant frequently stumbled between the men's room and his table, and—when he was sitting down—didn't care how loud his "They're really awful!" estimations of the bands were (perhaps no one knew any Molly Hatchet tunes, bro!); some oaf in a yellow ball cap got up during a quiet Turntable ballad and screamed, "YOU SUCK!"—middle finger raised—at their singer, who shot back an evil look that said, "I'm really going to miss this guitar, yet that pain will be much tempered by the knowledge that the guitar will soon be embedded in your anus for the rest of your natural life." Most of the other males were so gone that they didn't notice how many people—like us, for example—were making uproarious fun of them between sets. Really, some people should know when to leave early.