Last Night: Iglu & Hartly, The Lovemakers, Pop Noir at Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa, March 26, 2009.
Better than: Seeing say, Crazy Town, another LA white boy rap/rock band that Iglu & Hartly have been (unfairly!) compared to.
Number of shirtless dudes on stage: I believe three was the most at any given time.
Iglu & Hartly may very well end up as one of the most maligned bands in modern music history. Despite their increasing mainstream popularity--"In This City" is not just all over KROQ, but modern rock stations across the country--they've been the recipients of some of the most vicious reviews seen since Eddie Murphy expressed his desire to "Party All the Time." Drowned in Sound called their full-length, And Then Boom, "the worst album of the year;" NME called the same record an "abomination." Yeah. Ouch.
But these concerns didn't keep the nearly full crowd at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa on Thursday night at home. Quite the opposite; those there, a much different crowd than typical indie hipsters you might find there at a show like tomorrow's with Sebastien Grianger, were hanging on the Echo Park group's every word, dancing, singing along and doing whatever lead singer Jarvis Anderson asked them to do (throw up peace signs? sure! put girls on their shoulder? alright!). Well, until "In This City" came on about three-quarters of the way through their set. Then most of them took off.
And honestly, it wasn't surprising that people left (to their defense, Iglu & Hartly didn't come on until around midnight, and it was a work night and all that), but it was more surprising that Iglu & Hartly didn't hold on to that track until the very end. It's like an old David Spade "Weekend Update" bit about bands doing their most famous songs as an opener, but not quite as severe.
One thing that's discussed at length with Iglu & Hartly is whether or not they're actually "for real" or just some sort of joke that only the members of the band (and perhaps some especially snooty critics) actually fully grasp. Seeing them live doesn't necessarily provide too many answer; telling us to "make some noise for being alive" and "preserving planet Earth" is one thing, but it just doesn't seem sincere when you say "you guys are the best fucking crowd we've ever had ever." But the fans there certainly didnt' seem to care either way, acquiescining to each one of the band's requests throughout the show, and when several girls got onto the shoulders of their male companions, it definitely was far removed from the more reserved shows that can be found all throughout the county. And that's not so terrible.
Their music certainly is catchy. Dumb, sure, but undeniably catchy--the attention they've gotten from tastemaking blog Popjustice proves that some pretty wise folks agree. When the white guy rapping kicks in, sure, it's a little embarassing, but after an hour or so in concert, it actually sort of becomes endearing. Whether or not that's indicative of the quality of the music or just a mind-numbing, brain cell-killing side effect the songs may have is up to science to decide. The end result is fun, the kind of fun that's probably not well served by too much contemplation.
Oakland's The Lovemakers preceded I&H, and were undoubtedly the night's highlight, bringing the most power from that area since Mark McGwire's 1987 rookie year. Their energy was infectious, with lead singer Lisa Light slinking around the room and "whispering" lyrics to audience members.
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Personal Bias: Iglu & Hartly are from Echo Park, which is kind of my home-away-from-OC. ¡Viva la Gold Room!
Random Detail: At the end of the Lovemakers set, Light cooled herself down by pouring a water bottle over her head; innocent enough, but some of the more vocal and douchebaggy male audience members lecherously expressed their pleasure over what the H20 did to the top-half of her outfit.
By the Way: The next best chance for people-watching at Detroit will most likely by this Saturday, with Smiths cover band Sweet & Tender Hooligans. Should definitely be something.