The Spell, Mr. Elevator & The Brain Hotel and Ambush Freqs
Dec. 31, 2011
You know you went to a good show when you're 100 percent sober on New Year's Eve, your date flakes on you a few hours before leaving, no girls even come close to kissing you at midnight and you still have a really great time. That's exactly what happened to me Saturday at the Blue Cafe, which made me the happiest sober dude in all of Long Beach.
Ambush Freqs kicked off the evening. Unfortunately, most of the crowd hadn't yet arrived when the twosome of singer Dirty Birdie and DJ Mr. Biggz was playing, which really was a shame because the people who were in attendance were cutting up the dance floor. I imagine more people would have meant more dancing because Ambush Freqs busted out some sweet beats to get your feet moving. As I sat in a darkened corner all alone (because that's what journalists working on New Year's Eve who can't drink because it's foggy outside and they live too far to away to risk getting pulled over do), the phrase "lo-fi Lady Gaga" kept popping into my head. Before anyone freqs out (get it? freqs out? Sometimes I'm clever) and says I'm being mean in saying that, keep this in mind: I like lo-fi music. I also like Lady Gaga, so I mean this as a compliment and not in any sort of negative way.
I suppose I could pontificate about Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, but I won't because it's much easier to write, "they rule." Yeah, that sounds very Beavis and Butt-head, but I'm not joking. This bass-organ-drum trio fucking slayed. Imagine all the best parts of trippy '60s garage run through some sort of Black Sabbath/Black Flag filter and you've got Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel. The songs were long in that awesome way that makes you never want to stop bobbing your head and -- no joke -- the musicianship was top notch. I'm pretty sure this is heady music if you catch my drift, but I was stone sober and loved them, so I think it's safe to say that Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, like Wu-Tang, is for the children.
Headliners the Spell ran through about a 20-minute set before the obligatory countdown. Unlike other countdowns I've seen, the Spell played right through that shit and just counted down mid-song. I thought that was not only ballsy, but pretty awesome, too. The funny part was watching singer Josh Brown ask the crowd after every song, "Who's got the countdown?" Everyone busted out their phones and one even showed hers to Brown, who replied, "We're waiting for the app to download." Other than the countdown, the Spell also added four songs from their previous band On Blast to the mix. When the Spell first formed about a year ago, they might throw in one old song, but the longer they've gone on, that seems to have disappeared. Last night, however, we were given a new, slower version of "Optimistic," "Wanna Lose Control," "Bad Girl" and "One of Those Days." As if that wasn't enough, guitarist/keyboardist Andy Kiddoo kept wishing everyone a happy 2008.
New Year's is all about being around friends, so I suppose I'll end this here review by saying I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Paul at the show. Neither of us could remember how long it had been since we saw each other, but admitted it had been too long. Turns out, Paul started grad school in 2011 just like I did, so we had a lot of "damn, this is a lot of work" barbs to trade. I had a great time at the show, but talking to Paul made the night really special, so thanks dude!
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Critical bias: New Year's Eve is amateur night.
The crowd: Lots of attractive females, none of whom seemed interested in kissing me at midnight.
Overheard in the crowd: "You want some acid?"
Random notebook dump: That Dirty Birdie sure knows how to own a dance floor.