February 11, 2010 | 7:23am
Over the years, we've developed a growing affection for Gypsy Lounge, and couldn't have picked a better spot in Orange County to continue promoting our debut LP, At Night You Love Me, and to start debuting new material (including covers).
The first night of our residency was planned around playing with bands that we're most familiar and cool with. That description certainly fits with Foreign Press, who are a five piece made up of close friends, some of which who have played with us in previous incarnations of our band, and who are taking it upon themselves to perform and record many of Richard Bivens' songs that would've otherwise been shelved. Whenever we see Foreign Press play, we're always amazed at what they've been able to do with some of these songs, and last Thursday was no exception. Highlights were the jazz/punk/lounge groove of "Jesus Loved the Hell out of Me", and the spirited soulful rocking of "White Flight".
Next up was Hotel St. George from San Diego. HSG's singer, Matt Binder, has been a friend of the band since 2007 and we've been in touch about swapping shows and critiquing new recordings since. Compared to Foreign Press, HSG's brand of rock was definitely a bit louder and dense compared to the more vocal-driven sound Foreign Press sports via Juanita Mankuleiyo, but the levels still sounded great and they had the crowd engaged from start to finish. A highlight was "That's Why I Drink Every Night", a driving rock song with a great chorus you can't hear enough of, and when you're hanging out at a bar like Gypsy Lounge on your second or third drink, it makes all the more sense.
Earlier in the week, we planned to let one band member choose what cover(s) to play and write the set list for each night. Tonight was (guitarist/vocalist) Anthony Chu's night, and he decided to lead off with the insistent, Strokes-ish rock/jangle of "No Winners," helping us kick things off with good energy. "Cruel to be Kind" was a mid-set highlight that allowed us to harmonize a bit more than normal which was a blast, but it was the new song, "Facts & Figures" that added some buzz to the show. It has been a while since we've arranged a new original song and we were all extra excited for its live debut so we did let some people in the audience know it was coming. Chu's call to play it last was a good one, driving up the suspense, but with all the hype surrounding "F&F,",we were just happy it wound up delivering. It's pretty much all we heard people talking about after the show, and it left us thinking that maybe we need to debut new material a little more often.
The After Hours played last. Their sound isn't metal, hardcore, or hard rock, but there are elements of all three in their music. This was a big departure from the other bands, but it turned out to work as they were super appreciative to play, they brought their own crowd and they kept their set tight with hard-edge songs that featured distinct bass, guitar, & keyboard riffs and an intruiging on-stage persona of lead singer Matt Meza. Gypsy Lounge must have liked what they heard because they got rebooked immediately after the show.
All in all, it was pretty much the perfect way to get the residency started. We can't wait for round two with Arrows, Chasing Kings, and The Monthlies today at 8:30!