As I mentioned last week, I went to the Capitol Hill Block Party on Friday, but my weary bones failed to make a reappearance. Maybe it was age. Maybe it was not wanting to stand inside a dark, hot Neumo’s on a beautiful day. Maybe it was my lack of tattoos. (Capsule Review: I loved the Fresh & Onlys set, but wish is was outside. Thurston Moore played the longest note of the day. I think he and his band held a single note for at least a minute and a half. People went wild for Fucked Up while they played the same song for 45 minutes. It was all I could do to stay for all of Yuck which was not all their fault. I was beaten by the Block Part.) By Sunday I had recharged enough to head down to a venue that shall remain nameless for a DIY show. A couple LA bands (Dunes and Cold Showers) along with a couple Seattle bands (Stephanie and Mountainns) played what amounted to a loft show next to a freeway that bookmakers and seismologists say will collapse the next time the earth quakes.
I think this may have been a quasi secret show as both Dunes and Cold Showers played at the Block Party earlier in the day, but as discussed earlier there wasn’t a chance in hell that I was going to make a second appearance at. In this world there are two kinds of concert goers. There is the type that go for the spectacle and bragging rights of it and there are those that go for the music. It’s pretty safe to say that everyone in the loft Sunday night were there for the music. Why else would you choose to be someone’s sweat box of a living room with 30 other people who may or may not have showered that day? I arrived in time to see Stephanie. I own their GGNZLA EP, but I don’t remember them sounding like Boy era U2 if it had been produced by Martin Hannett (yeah, I know Hannett produced 11 O’Clock Tick Tock). Their singer has a big melodramatic voice while the rest of the band have obviously studied their Joy Division and New Order records.
Both Dunes and Cold Showers are progeny of the defunct Mika Miko. Cold Showers who are the newer band, have just a single single which is out on the Mexican Summer label. Speaking of Mexican Summers, the venue was as hot as a Mexican summer and I’m talking about one on the coast. Heat aside, Cold Showers features former Mika Miko bassist Jessie Clavin and she is their secret weapon; Shredding on guitar full time and doing part time vocal duties. They have a dark sound that pulls in influences from their hometown like X and Gun Club and mixes them with the likes of Bauhaus and Joy Division. The majority of the vocals are handled by bassist Jonathan Weinberg who has a deadpan barritone. The ringing guitars, Weinberg’s deadpan vocals juxtaposed with Clavin’s gritty angelic ones made for a killer sound. It may have been someone’s living room but they still easily made the music soar. Dunes Drummer Kate Hall joined them for their final song bringing a two drum attack as well as reuniting 1/2 Mika Miko on stage, or living room rather.
On record Dunes evoke the ethereal playfulness of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Their songs rely on shimmering guitars and echoed vocals to create their empyrean sound. Maybe it was the DIY space, or maybe they just can’t quite pull off the task of equalling their records, but the trio of drums and two guitars (no bass) didn’t quite reach the celestial sounding heights of their records. Former Talbot Tagora guitarist/singer Mark Greshowak took the vocal reigns for one song momentarily making Dunes sound slightly like his old band. Otherwise Stephanie Chan handled the singing of which she is more than capable of doing, only her voice just didn’t strike me as much as it does on the records. Dunes were just OK live. Maybe it was the heat or the venue. They were too rough around the edges whereas I wanted them to explore more of their subtle and pristine side which I think is the best part of them.