Last Night: The Horrors at Detroit Bar

Last Night: The Horrors, Japanese Motors at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa; September 30, 2009.

Better Than: Well, I don't think Creed were ever nominated for a Mercury Music Prize…

Best Free Snacks: The Popchips given away outside the venue. They were giving them away at Street Scene, too. I have never actually seen them for sale.

It's been a good year for the Horrors. Their sophomore release, Primary Colours, has received nearly unanimous critical acclaim, shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize, and the UK band toured with the Kills and opened for Nine Inch Nails at their New York City “Wave Goodbye” shows.

Now on their own headlining tour, they're simply left to bask in the glory of their many recent successes–which is essentially what took place last night at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa. Though it was a lot more entertaining than that might sound.

Ripping through every song on Primary Colours during the main part of their set, frontman Faris Badwan perfectly represented his band's “too cool for school” aesthetic by keeping pretty much completely to himself. He didn't chit chat with the crowd, introduce the band or crack any jokes–before the encore, the most life he showed was punctuating lines like the “get away” on “Who Can Say” with a few batting hand movements.

But that was OK. The Horrors are a band that's proud to wear their influences on their sleeves–as interviews like Ned Raggett's in last week's Weekly attest–and a band clearly reared on shoegaze acts like Spaceman 3 the post-punk of the Fall simply wouldn't be found gabbing about how “great it is to be playing in Costa Mesa, California.”

The sharp division of their setlist (new album at first, Strange Houses in the encore) was conspicuous, and represented the transformation of their sound between the two albums was relevant to the band as well as rock critics. They just simply wouldn't mix. Not that the encore suffered for it, with Badwan coming to life on the harder tracks like “Count in Fives,” and even a mini-mosh pit erupting in the first few rows of the crowd. (It was kind of weird.)

Costa Mesa's Japanese Motors opened, doing numbers from their self-titled Vice debut like “Single Fins N Safety Pins.” They're opening up for the Horrors on several dates this tour, including the next two in LA and Pomona.

Despite playing in their hometown, it was evident that the crowd shelled out their $15 for the Horrors. Not that it deterred Japanese Motors any, sounding just as confident in their “west coast Strokes” sound as ever.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias:
More of an anti-bias, really. The Horrors hadn't really completely won me over before last night, and now they…sort of have.

Random Detail: Sacrificing form for function, Horrors lead singer Faris Badwan ditched his leather jacket a few songs in. It was pretty hot in there–not sure why he wore it on stage at all, other than looking cool. And he did. So it all works out!

By the Way: The Horrors play tonight at the El Rey, and Friday at the Glass House in Pomona.

The Horrors set list:
“Mirror's Image”
“Three Decades”
“Primary Colors”
“Do You Remember”
“New Ice Age”
“Scarlet Fields”
“I Only Think of You”
“I Can't Control Myself”
“Who Can Say”
“Sea Within a Sea”

“Count in Fives”
“Sheena is a Parasite”

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