Last Night: Beck at Club Nokia November 9, 2008.
Better Than: seeing Beck at the Hollywood Bowl.
Download: "Gamma Ray" from the Beck website [http://www.modernguilt.com/#4]
It was a grand evening for the grand opening of Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. Club Nokia appears to have studied many of the strong attributes of other concert venues before finalizing the design on their newest creation. A semi-circle of seats in the upper deck looked down on the stage strategically placed with excellent sight lines. One could also get a drink at the seemingly Star Wars inspired bar and still have an clear view of the stage. The three tiered general admission floor worked well along with a slew of LCD screens and extra speakers to drown out those chatty folks in the back of the club.
Jenny Lewis earned the distinction of being the first performer on the Club Nokia stage as she offered up tunes from her new solo album Acid Tongue. "The Next Messiah" was one of the highlights from her set as Farmer Dave Scher added some wobbly slide guitar to Jenny's sugar coated vocals. The rest of Jenny's band added some lush background harmonies on "Acid Tongue" as Jenny stood center stage strumming her acoustic guitar. Jenny probably could have sold out Club Nokia by herself.
Beck was an excellent selection to open up Club Nokia, as he is the musical patron saint of Los Angeles. A metallic slide worked out the magical chords to "Loser" as Beck kicked off his set full of hits. I wasn't the least bit queasy for Beck's hip shaking take of "Nausea". Beck grabbed the microphone to spit out the lyrics for "Novacane" as Brian Lebarton (Synthesizers) tweaked the various knobs on his Korg MS-20 for outer space synthesizer sounds.
Three headsets with a microphone was all that Beck and his band needed for their mini electronic set that featured "Hell Yes" and "Black Tambourine". Beck boasted he could make the Staples Center explode with the electronic 808 drum sounds from his wireless sampler. Beck returned to his folk roots with his acoustic guitar for a crowd silencing rendition of "The Golden Age".
Beck had a special surprise for the audience for the encore when he brought out Ryan his interpretive dancer. Ryan cut loose with his robotic moves as the band tackled "Gamma Ray" from Modern Guilt. "Timebomb" was dropped on the audience with explosive force as the crowd in the front of the stage frantically waved their hands. The fuzz drenched guitar line of "E-Pro" was still ringing in my ears as Beck capped off a scintillating set to get Club Nokia off and running to an excellent start.
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Personal Bias: I have attended three secret Beck shows in my lifetime.
Random Detail: One of Beck's kids wandered on the stage during "Nausea".
By The Way: Check the schedule before you head out to Club Nokia because the Lakers and The Who were playing at the Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre making parking tricky.