VHS or Beta
Roxy, Los Angeles
Feb. 4, 2012
Upon arriving to the world famous Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, I couldn't help but feel a bit overwhelmed by the venue's lush history. Enormous performers and bands such as Bob Marley & the Wailers, Prince, Pearl Jam, Van Morrison, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction have graced the small theatre, making it one of LA's most historic music venues.
Being the crazy music junkie that I am, the second I walked into the Roxy I immediately noticed the black and white photographs of musicians hanging on the wall and instantly gravitated toward them. It wasn't until I started receiving intense stares by security that I realized I was observing the photos as if I were a 10-year-old in a toy store. Being a noob to the Roxy, I completely fell a victim to my surroundings–and it was awesome.
After regaining my composure and taking a look at the people in the crowd (and on stage), I knew it was going to be an interesting night. West “Holy-weird” on a Saturday night is a sight in itself, but to add to the weirdness, the opening act for VHS or Beta was a band named Conquistador, whose front man must have been best friends with Ziggy Stardust's old costume “stylist.” Alexander Antebi was dressed in a tight fitted leopard uni-tard and wore a headpiece that made him look like 10-foot, double-horned unicorn.
Adding to the strangeness of Conquistador's set, the bassist at one point played half of a song on top of Antebi's shoulders and bounced around on stage. He afterwards told the crowd, “Just so you know, we didn't do that in practice.” Even though Conquistador's music isn't exactly my cup of tea, I can say with confidence that I have never witnessed a more eye-opening performance in my life.
About 45 minutes after the opening act had finished, VHS or Beta finally took the stage and lit up the Roxy with an unbelievable amount of energy. Opening with the song “Eyes” off of the band's new album Diamonds and Death, the Kentucky natives had everyone in the crowd fist pumping and dancing as soon as their set began. But it was front man Craig Pfunder's energetic and in-your-face stage presence that set the tone for the rest of the night.
The best part of the set came when the band played the song “Burn It All Down” off of the album Bring On The Comets released in 2008. VHS or Beta played it as a lead in to the last two encore songs, which was a clever way to keep the energy high. The crowd jumped and sang along the loudest during this song, fueling the girls behind me to start doing their own –drunk– rendition of what I think was the “Carrolton” dance (yes, that is a Fresh Prince of BelAir reference).
The indie-rock quartet sounded like a hybrid between LCD Soundsystem and Cut Copy, with hints of the Cure popping out every once in a while; which made for an incredibly groovy set. Between Mark Palgy's killer bass lines and Pfunder's stellar guitar riffs and bold vocals, VHS or Beta played an extremely up beat and fun set. You know your band's got it going on when every song on the set list is a good one! The band's big sound was perfect for a small venue like the Roxy.
The Crowd: Drunk, crazy and down to get their mack on.
Critic's Bias: I went to the show with a friend who saw VHS or Beta in 2008 and is the one who told me to check out their music. I couldn't believe what I was missing out on! I was stoked to see them, to say the least.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Is that the lead singer from the opening band?!”
Random Notebook Dump: Mark Palgy (the bassist for VHS or Beta) was wearing a Joan Jett and the Black Hearts t-shirt, which totally won my heart.
I Found A Reason
Under The Sun
Burn It All Down
Night On Fire