October 15, 2010

live review: Los Angeles – Culture Collide Fest Roundup


Sure we’re not the first to say it, nor will we be the last, but LA needs a music festival that holds up to SXSW, NXNW, In The City, CMJ, etc. We’re not talking street fests, FYF or Muse Expo, we’re talking like a downtown LA Artwalk of music. just check the Artwalk each month… the crowd is there, the scene is there, the food is there, but only on occasion the right bands are there – but never all at once. Last weekend FILTER Magazine put on the first official Culture Collide Festival at various eastside and downtown LA venues. The festival showcased their choice selection of established and emerging artists from around the world over a period of four days concluding with a free outdoor festival on the last. And so blahblahblahscience has put together an overview of our favorite moments for those who may have missed it:

Electro-pop collective KAMP! (Poland) were a pleasant surprise at the Echoplex. ‘Euro’ blends of synths, live instrumentation, and vox (not short on David Bowie homage) paints a pretty good picture. Not your typical ‘yeah were an 80’s new wave flashback here to prove something’ group, but rather it’s like KAMP! share their take on 1980’s dance parties into the future, the near future. A young band that does what they do well, and worth their notice.


3 piece Kordan (NY), has a pretty good sound on tape. That being said low-fi, electro-pop bands should hit up their producer ASAP. The trio lurped their way through a rough set. We here at b3sci are all for sloppy and simple musicianship, as long as it’s got a soul to it, and there’s a tune there. but not this time, sorry guys… write some tunes and do some rails if you must. Other disappointing acts included City Riot (Australia), and The Boxer Rebellion (UK)… who btw we were pretty stoked for (Union has some good tunes on it).





Black Lips (Atlanta) closed the Echoplex opening night with a set that proved difficult for any to live up to the following days. The band came out sporting t-shirts, button downs, and ever classy K-mart, native american’esque ‘half-zip’ fleeces (circa ’95). These dudes played fucking LOUD. Their songs translated live and they were tight, but when they weren’t it didn’t matter… because of the sheer passion they played with. Not many bands can pull off ‘everybody sings in our band’ with such non-contrived class. The band tore through their set of strat-jangled pop jams with early Beatles/Quarrymen craft and a shameless new born CBGB mentality. Black Lips are a group with seemingly substantial influence on many punk inspired Indie acts of the day, and they showed why they’ll remain relevent.



Other highlights and honorable mentions during the 4 days of Culture Collide include:

Casiokids (Norway) with their take on obscure dance-pop that seems to live somewhere between The Rapture and a toned down Friendly Fires, just add nice pianos and jonsi-ros vox.


White Lies (UK) continue to deliver 5-piece layered synth and guitar based rock done right. The band split their set with tracks from To Lose My Life.. and their forthcoming LP due in January (which a listening party on Monday proved material worth another spin or two in our books).



Phantogram (NY) who continue to deliver great ideas with a mid-90’s Cardigans like sensibility, though their fill-in drummer still didn’t seem to be doing them any favors.


Amusement Parks On Fire (UK) are worth keeping an eye on, with a nice aggressive layered-guitar sound, but they are young and have some growing to do in terms of chemistry and performance.


Cass McCombs (California) was a pleasant listen, debuting some of his new material while Darker My Love bassist Rob Barbato backed as part of the band.

Tokyo Police Club (Canada) once again proved they should be the official college pizza-party band of the decade! Their catchy Pop/Rock with just the right attitude, energy, and touch obscurity is hard to deny. Dudes know how to have a good time. Even Jeff Apruzzese from Passion Pit showed up to rock the bass and join the party on “Your English Is Good”. Conclusion, if i worked for Pizza Hut then my commercials would have/sound-like TPC songs.


Sunday headliners and last minute additions, Jenny and Johnny (Los Angeles) closed the outdoors part of free festival day. Like true Indie Rock royalty, Siverlake Darling, Jenny Lewis and the crew arrived 40 minutes late. They opened with “Committed” closing track and personal favorite from the Im Having Fun Now LP, and closed with “The Next Messiah” off Jenny’s Acid Tongue LP. Still things were testy… there were sound issues, and during one of the band’s 2-3 minutes of nothingness in between songs a fight in the crowd began causing Jenny to intervene. All in all, Jx2 were great live and if all of Im Having Fun Now was as good as “Scissor Runner”, “Big Wave” and “Committed” then we’d have ourselves one of our choice albums of the year.


our final highlight from Culture Collide is Fran Healy (Scotland), front man of late 90’s and early oughts darlings Travis. Rather influential to my musical coming of age, it was incredible to not only shake Fran’s hand that night but to also watch him perform his Shakespeare-like pop/love songs in such an intimate setting. Perhaps the most witty songwriter I have ever seen perform live, Fran owned the over-capacity church of standing room only, and line outside the door. Telling jokes, timeless stories about, and tricking the crowd into believing that major collaborators from his new debut solo effort Wreckorder were there to perform with him (namely Neko Case and Paul McCartney). Having seen Fran perform with Travis several times before, his voice wasn’t in top form, which could have had something to do with the 90 degree non-air/conditioned/stuffy church, or the sound problems, but regardless Fran made his way through a set that included Travis tracks like “Writing To Wreach You”, “Sing”, and “Driftwood” in addition to new solo material like “Buttercups” and standout Wreckorder favorite “Sing Me To Sleep“. His set ended with a standing ovation, and one well deserved for one of the best songwriters of the last 15 years.


In conclusion, FILTER’s first Culture Collide fest proved a succesfull showcasing of emerging global talent. Should be interesting to see how the fest evolves, and is recieved by LA next time around. If you missed it this year be sure to hit it up next.

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