She Wants Revenge Reprise Their Role as Dark Kings of LA Rock

She Wants Revenge
The Fonda Theater

Remember when dark music was having a moment (again)? The early 2000s was a tempestuous treasure trove, a time when dark ditties and synth-ful seduction were actually on the radio. We had Interpol, The Killers, The Bravery, etc. and in Los Angeles, we had hometown boys She Wants Revenge. The duo’s arresting self-titled debut turned a decade old this year, and last night their performance of it at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood felt downright redemptive. SWR had—and considering that they sold out two nights there, obviously still have—a passionate following, but they also dealt with haters at their height who dismissed them as ’80s redux. Sure, some of their songs had a Joy Division-y vibe. That’s why we dug them so much! Last night these songs held up and with time past, felt more their own than ever.

We should disclose here that we know the players—Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin—through friends and via covering them over the years. We’ve never been an apologist where this band is concerned, but we also never got why their sound evoking great “goth” hits was a problem for some. The guys, who both have DJ and production backrounds, grew up as we did, in the new wave era, when KROQ -who fittingly present their string of local shows- made new romanticism and dance rock the music of the time in L.A. and beyond. It seeped into all of our souls. When a band can conjure that awkward, doomy yet hopeful angst and conjure it well, they deserve attention. And the thing is, this type of music isn’t actually about nostalgia. It will always be relevant to new generations because we all go through the same darkness in our lives. We’ve all lusted after someone we can’t have, we’ve all felt hopeless and then hopeful about love and life, and admit or not, we’ve all wanted to tear someone fucking apart (literally, sexually, figuratively).

Though the band went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2012, the highly publicized placement of “Tear You Apart” on American Horror Story- Hotel appears to the catalyst for this reunion. Warfield even mentioned Lady Gaga, who requested the track play during her bloody opening sequence on the show, on stage. But he also mentioned the fans who wanted them back and the friendship he has with Bravin as reasons for SWR’s return. Will it be a permanent one? He hinted as such, and the release of a new track, “Never,” suggests as much.

Playing as a four piece, the band exuded the kind of laid back precision that comes with time and distance from their material, and each track shone, vocally and rhythmically (standouts: the opening track, “Red Flags and Long Nights,” “Disconnect,” “These Things,” and the AHS revitalized hit which put them on the charts again recently). Judging from the intensity of the crowd, which seemed filled with as many new fans as old, this dark dance genre is sorely missed on the radio and live stage. Last night, Revenge showed there’s no good reason why they shouldn’t fill the void.

Set List:
Red Flags & Long Nights
The Things
I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love
Out of Control
Broken Promises For Broken Hearts
Someone Must Get Hurt
Tear You Apart
She Loves me, She Loves Me Not
Black Liner Run
Take The World
True Romance

She Wants Revenge play tonight at The Observatory, 8 p.m. $25. All ages.  For full details, click here.

One Reply to “She Wants Revenge Reprise Their Role as Dark Kings of LA Rock”

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