July 31, 2010
House of Blues
Here's the thing: I was so ready to write off Dahga Bloom as just another wanna-be exoticized lo-fi psychedelic band after their OC Weekly interview, where they said an African god came to them in their dreams and instructed them to change their name from the Living Suns and change their sound, as well. It was so implausible it seemed like BS.
Nonetheless, the gimmick worked; I went to their MySpace page, listened to a bunch of songs and really liked what I heard. When I realized that their album launch included a lineup that, according to a friend, boasted of OC's “most hipster bands ever,” I realized I couldn't miss it. For better or worse I was going to be able to test my “do not judge a band by what you read about them, only judge them by what you hear” credo.
As soon as the opening notes of “Little Reign” came on, I realized that while the band says silly things to journalists, there music is totally legit. I was watching a band that knew how to be tight and loose at the same time. With six people onstage and a variety of instruments, it could've been pure cacophony on stage. Instead, they played their instruments with precision–there were no sloppy mistakes. They knew how to layer their psychedelic sound yet maintain a melodic (and catchy!) quality in most of their songs. And even though their songs were structurally complex the band knew how to a) emotionally charge their songs and b) improvise within the song without losing their groove.
That kind of cohesion in a band is always amazing to watch. Plus, Dahga Bloom's music was honest–it seemed that they sincerely loved the music they were playing, and loved playing it for their audience. Dahga Bloom's members are all from Orange County, but their sound is reminiscent of Gogol Bordello's chaotic symphonies, highlighted with surf guitar drenched in reverb, plus Man Man's dark overtones.
The show's standouts include the eponymous “Dahga Bloom” and “Bemsha Swing” (also the name of a Thelonious Monk track).
Personal Bias: My initial impulse when watching unknown bands is always to be pretty tough on them.
Crowd: Like my friend said, it was very OC hipster. Like the Detroit Bar x 1000.
Overheard in the Crowd: (While watching the Growlers) “This guitar tone really hurts my ears.”
Random Notebook Dump: The Cosmonauts have the cutest merch! Elephants on cassette!
Dahga Bloom's Set List:
1) Little Reign
2) Black Lung
3) Fallin (Seeds cover)
5) Night Laborer
6) Hold My Head
7) Bemsha Swing