Friday, February 29, 2008

Reeling in the Rain with MGMT and Yeasayer

by Danny Fasold

It’s one of those piss-poor rainy nights, practically a deluge of January water droplets pelting our bodies as they wrap around the building, and as usual, scarcely anyone has an umbrella. After all, this is Los Angeles. Rain is practically a myth. But not right now. Right now we’re all soaked from our heads to our shoulders and wishing rain truly was a myth. But no matter. We’re almost inside—we’re almost there!
Such is the atmosphere at the Echoplex as I’m waiting in line to see MGMT and Yeasayer, two up-and-coming rock bands from Brooklyn whose buzz has vibrated the blogospheres more and more lately. I’m only faintly familiar with both of them, but hey, it’s a Saturday night in L.A. and music just seems like such a happening escape from the rain right now, so here I am, all umbrella-less and wet and ready to rock.
When my small retinue and I finally make it inside, the opening act of the night—some raucous indie band whose name I never do learn—is finishing up. I like them well enough. As the band clears the stage, we make our way to the bar for refreshments. By the time we’re finishing our beers, Yeasayer is ready to go on and it’s "let the games begin."
I like Yeasayer right off the bat. What makes them so endearing, besides their music, is the fact that they don’t seem to give a flying fuck about what their audience thinks of them. Their game is head-trips. Under their presence, you will be teased, prodded and toyed with. Never is this more apparent than when lead singer Chris Keating—who plays the smug Brooklyn-boy hipster look to a tee—asks the crowd with a shit-eating grin, "So, how many wannabe actors are here tonight?" The crowd’s response? A couple of scores of boos and one guy with a buzz-cut standing just three feet away from me saying (and I kid you not), "That’s me you’re talking about—look at me! You’re not looking at me!"
As far as their music went—well—that part rocked. Something along the lines of Beach Boys meets Kraftwerk meets a whole lotta soul, their songs were every inch as psychedelic and vibrant as music should be. But the real highlight of the set came when Keating hurled a maraca into the audience at the end one of his songs, inadvertently blasting some poor girl square in the head. Minutes later, the sound guy interrupts the band mid-song to alert the band of their folly.
"Is she dead," asks a wide-eyed Keating.
"What?!" shouts somebody from the back.
"No, really," Keating says. "We’re serious. Is she dead?"
"No, man. How the fuck are you going to say something like that?! What’s wrong with you?!"
Moments later, the guys in front of me (which include the aforementioned buzz-cut-sporting wannabe actor) proceed to hurl a mix of insults and water bottles at the band. For a moment, I’m practically expecting a Brian Jonestown kind of scenario to go down, bar brawls and kicked-in teeth and all, but the tension finally eases up after Yeasayer starts playing again, and slowly, the guys in front of me disperse.
Yeasayer shuffle off at the end of their set uttering whole-hearted apologies, their singer wearing the same look on his face that you’d see on some pre-pubescent punk who’s just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and a half hour later, MGMT takes to the stage.
Now here was a whole other beast entirely. Like Yeasayer, MGMT’s game is psychedelia, but their songs are more inclusive, tinged with that bubbly sort of feel-good sunshine rhythm that you can’t help but dance to. And sure enough, everyone does just that. Next to me, the large, oafish looking guy who wouldn’t know a beat from his left foot—even he’s swaying to the disco light come the house-party beats of "Time to Pretend," easily the band’s most radio-friendly gemstone to date.
Songs like "Future Reflections" and "4th Dimensional Transition" pulsate like they were birthed on the dark side of the moon, a sound that’s only lime-lighted by singer/guitarist Andrew Van Wyngarden’s quivering Wayne Coyne-like falsetto. At the end of their set, Wyngarden and his partner-in-crime, Ben Goldwasser (who’s clad in black leotard pants, a wife beater and a rockin’ sweatband—work-out style, baby!) bust out their Karaoke party tricks to their dance-anthem "Kids" while the rest of the band takes a backseat.
"We want to party with you all tonight," says a starry-eyed Wyngarden at the apex of the song.
As my friends and I venture out of the club and back into the rain, I hear a girl near the bar exclaim excitedly to anyone listening, "Those guys are going to be huge!" And though I’m usually a rather contentious guy, especially when it comes to all things music, in this case I happen to agree. We want to party with you too, MGMT.

Funny as Hell interview with the up and coming band Gay Blades

Check out this excellent profile/interview of the totally awesome band Gay Blades! They're not signed yet, but they will be, so go see them at DC9 on March 5th and get yourself some street cred fool!

Check it out on urbancode's blog The DC Show Hopper at

Courtesy of Eyeball Records and the Gay Blades