Lamb & Flag, Brea Mall
March 25, 2012
New York hipster band Cults has been super busy these past several months. I first checked them out when they played FYF last September. Last week they toured through Los Angeles playing shows at the Glasshouse and the Music Box at the Fonda. And though they're booked larger-size venues such as the Observatory in April, they're still not too cool to stop by sleepy Brea town's mall to do an intimate in-store performance at Lamb & Flag for a small group of fans. The last time I wrote about the band, I was railing against their decision to use the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide as a springboard for increasing their indie credibility. For those not in the know, the band used video wizardry to "Forrest Gump" themselves into archival footage of the People's Temple accompanied by music from their song "Go Outside."
I still think the video, though beautiful and haunting was still in bad taste. But listening to their dreamy, reverb saturated pop tunes Sunday afternoon, which were accented by beautiful chiming xylophone amidst rows of T-shirts and jeggings (I know what those are now), all was forgiven. The biggest criticism you'll hear about this show (from this curmudgeon) is that at six songs, it was too short.
Singer Madeline Follin charmed with her sweet cooing melodies, bouncing and twisting while surrounded by the scissor-boycotting boys in the band. Despite some feedback issues attributable to the fact that we weren't in an actual music venue, the sound was lush and radio ready. Kudos to keyboardist and sample maestro Gabriel Rodriguez who filled out the arrangements with atmospheric loops of wonky voices and backing vocals. Some might consider this musical gimmickry to be a form of cheating, but the end product is so pleasing it's hard to care what's going into the sausage. The tune "Most Wanted," sported a surreal haunting quality as Follin's reverb surged and her vocals swelled on the chorus.
And though these guys traffic in a simple, vintage-pop formula, they manage to infuse a little edge to balance the sugar, especially on "Never Heal Myself," which sees Follin singing the line "I could never heal myself for you...so fuck you." Meanwhile, soaring keyboards on the song "You Know What I Mean" have an uncanny Animal Collective vibe. And you just can't beat the band's aesthetic-- a diminutive songstress backed by three, grizzly-ass hessians. Irony at its finest.
Meeting with fans after the set
Overheard: "So what's everyone doing after this," asked guitarist Brian Oblivion during the set. "Hot Dog on a Stick?"
Partial Set List:
2. The Curse
3. Heal Myself
4. Go Outside
5. Most Wanted
6. You Know What I mean
The Crowd: Young, mostly high school age. A surprisingly small turnout (considering the fact that the Weekly advanced the event!)
Random Notebook Dump: Hot Dog on a Stick has delicious veggie corn dogs. But you can't beat the pretzel place by Sears for sheer deliciousness.