OC Music Awards Showcase 1: Best Live Band, with Jeramiah Red, Paulie Pesh, the Gromble, Strange Birds and James Fletcher
Jan 3, 2011
Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa
Last night saw Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar kick off the first in a series of showcases comprising the OC Music Awards. The five groups, competing for the title of best live band, consisted of Jeremiah Red, Paulie Pesh, The Gromble, Strange Birds and James Fletcher. With a couple exceptions, the performances were solid, and the gold star, in my humble opinion, goes to the Gromble.
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These five boys from Laguna Niguel are fronted by Spencer Askin
Trevin Eck-- a bespectacled and physically unassuming chap whose stock and trade appears to be indie-hued power pop in the vein of Weezer or Pavement. But there were moments when the music surged with waves of distortion and saw Askin either blaring through a trumpet or furiously stomping around stage with his guitar in a manic rage. It bordered on frightening--albeit thrilling--and were reminiscent of the glory days when indie bands like Neutral Milk Hotel reigned. Let it also be said, Askin pounds Heinekens with reckless abandon and shows little impairment.
That said, Jeremiah Red play an energetic brand of rock which frequently sees Dickson's voice slathered with a slapback echo lending the band a Zeppelinesque sound. I hate Led Zeppelin but it can't be denied that Dickson has oodles of charisma and works an audience with a swagger both simmering and brooding. He also looks a little like Mark Wahlberg.
Whatever criticisms can be leveled at Fletcher and company, they were head and shoulders above Paulie Pesh, a 12-peice ensemble outfitted with violin, cello, saxophones a tuba and many more instruments. Their sound can best be described as Arcade Fire derivative. It's likely, the tiny room at Detroit just can't accomadate a band this ambitious. The massive throng of players crammed together on the small stage failed to gel musically and the performance came off stilted. Worst of all were the harmonies between husband and wife vocalists Paulie Pesh and Cristal Peshkepia, which were painfully mismatched and out of key.