Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE: LA Edition– your source for the best shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live band. For the month of February we will be featuring LA shows!
Draag is a shoegaze band from Sylmar, California who create stream-of-consciousness film noir landscape music that is performed at eardrum melting volumes. Starting as the solo project of Adrian Acosta (originally a mariachi singer), the lineup was filled out by seasoned underground musicians Jessica Huang, Nick Kelley, Ray Montes, and Shane Graham, who have influences ranging from no wave to experimental jazz and classical music. Last month they released a music video for their track “Ghost Leak,” and are currently doing a free month-long Monday night residency at The Echo and Echoplex in support of their new EP Clara Luz. The second installment of this residency will be presented by Pretty But Wicked on 2/10 with Orchin, Gold Cage, Sprain, and DJ Bloome at The Echoplex. We chatted with Draag about how they create their live sound, what body of water their music would swim in, and their favorite LA traffic listening.
AF: What are your favorite guitar pedals and/or any other piece of gear that’s important to your live sound?
Orange amps, Sunn amps, Strymon, Earthquaker Devices, Nunez Amplification, Hologram Electronics, Moog, Roland, Korg, Boss, Dave Smith Electronics, Fender, Gibson – without delving too deep into each individual gadget of ours. One secret weapon we can reveal is the Digetech Pds 100 Digital Sampler.
AF: What are your favorite LA bands to play with?
Vinyl Williams, Goon, Ceramiks, The Shaking Hands, Alms, Shaki Tavi, Sam Wilkes, Sprain
AF: What body of water would your music like to swim in?
Tigris and Euphrates
AF: If you were to create a new score any horror, sci-fi fi or cult classic movie that already exists, which would it be?
Rosemary’s Baby, Hereditary, and Street Trash.
AF: What’s your favorite record to listen to while stuck in traffic?
Jessica: My Bloody Valentine B-sides
Ray: Dinosaur Jr. –You’re Living All Over Me
Adrian: J Dilla’s Donuts
Nick: Carpathian Forest – Fuck You All
Shane: Ulrika Spacek’s https://open.spotify.com/album/4P5B6hMF3QavOLvYPfvqRQ?si=IFr-6Yp3TWewGUozk1jfyg
Well, one of the most anticipated weekends this spring for the West Coast garage rock lovers has come and gone. Burgerama 4 last week has certainly exceeded it’s “hype.” Surrounded by a sea of (mostly) Californian sunbathed teens, I, as well as a few thousand others, discovered some great new artists and solidified my obsession for my favorites. As I mentioned a few weeks ago about who I was stoked to see- Burgerama’s lineup this years was a perfect mix between modern-day legends like Roky Erickson, Weezer, and Gang of Four, as well as over a dozen fresh bands like Girl Band, IAN, Palma Violets, Twin Peaks and so so many more. These bands are slowly remolding what it means to be a punk or garage band in 2015.
One band that seemed to steer away from the “Burger-sounding” theme of the weekend was IAN. This Los Angeles/Boston based band had the relatively tough time slot of 2PM on the smallest of three stages on the first of the festival. Competing against popular acts such as the local-favorited Cosmonauts, and Together PANGEA – impressively, IAN had no issue packing out their room. Front woman, Jillian Medford, definitely knew how to grab the attention of the audience between her sassy stage banter and perfectly tuned yelp-type screech in between her guitar riffs. This past week I’ve had the chance to chat a bit with her, and get the full scoop where IAN’s sound came from, as well as her opinion on the festival in general.
AudioFemme: Ok so let’s get some background on IAN- where did ya’ll meet and how did you decide to collaborate?
Jillian: We all met at a house show in Jamaica plain, MA. At Whitehaus. I was playing a show with a different drummer at the time (just me and drums) and Tim, my current drummer came up to me after the show and asked if he could play bass for me! I was totally into it and the day we were all about to get together to play some tunes, my drummer at the time said he couldn’t commit to being in the band and going on tour… So I asked Tim if he would possibly play drums and could tour for two weeks.. Oh and if he had a working van… and he said yes to all of these and it was a match made in heaven. And later sweet Damien was added to the mix!
AF: Wether it be an era, band or specific person, what would you say influences your sound most?
JM: I look up to so many people, and feel that I mostly draw influence subconsciously. I very much adore Karen O., both in the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and solo. My mom is also one of the biggest influences for me, although she doesn’t play an instrument she is such a creative, beautiful, intelligent and encouraging human being. The era I’m feelin’ most would be right now. I am currently and constantly surrounded by such driven people who are always willing to expose new ideas and embrace everyone’s strengths and weaknesses…this keeps me in check and also sometimes unchecked, but that’s probably for the best. You can’t always be a straight line. That would be so boring
AF: I love the raw and organic sound if your self-titled EP on your Bandcamp. Can you tell us a little about that recording process?
JM: YES! So we recorded this EP in two days in August in a very hot, sticky and stinky Allston apartment with Mark Feede (who will be recording our full length). It was pretty insane thinking back to have recorded in just two days, but we were on a tight timeframe and budget! We just wanted to put something out that we could sell on our upcoming tour. Didn’t really realize it would resonate with people as much as it has on the first go round and that has been very special for us! We love to record live and together. Would hate to have to track instruments separately. it’s so rewarding to look at my boys rockin’. That’s the best part is when we can all face each other and just jump around.
AF: It was your first time playing Burgerama this year. Well… what’d you think? Were you as stoked as your crowd seemed to be?
JM: Burgerama was crayyyyzeeee!! We have played the Constellation Room before (where we played at Burgerama) and it’s definitely one of our top favorite places to play! The crowd is always so responsive and the place ALWAYS fills out completely. It’s shocking! And it’s mostly people who haven’t heard of us before, so it gave us a chance to hopefully win them over. I think the Burgerama show was the best show we’ve ever played. The crowd gives you so much you can’t help but lose your shit a bit. I hopped around so much during out set, the next day I was so sore I made Tim give me piggy back rides everywhere!
AF: Any bands that you had never seen or heard of before that you really enjoyed?
JM: I hadn’t seen La Luz before and I am a huge fan! they put on a really rad set! Was really inspiring to watch! Also, a moment for Weezer and remembering when I was seven my babysitter would blast “We Are All On Drugs” on the way home from gymnastics practice… It was good to see Weezer, I know all the words thanks to her ha!
AF: Ian rules. Tell us about some future gigs/plans for ya’ll.
JM: We are now back In Boston for a few months after spending some much needed time in LA. We are out here now recording our album & I have to graduate from college in May, and we are also doing a lil tour round the Midwest/south with our buddies Kal Marks in June! We are trying to jam pack tons of fun stuff into our stay out here before we head back to LA to finish up the record there! Then after that….there’s a bunch goin’ on OH MY! So psyched!
On Valentine’s Day, I rushed from work to catch the early show at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg. Yes, I went alone. On Valentine’s Day. Anyways… Although I don’t usually enjoy this venue, I was excited to see these two Burger bands for the first time. I arrived just as Mozes and The Firstborn took the stage. A four-piece from Holland, they were refreshingly enthusiastic. Mozes was one of those bands that actually wanted to be there and showcase their new album (that was released this past month, by the way). If you frequent shows in Brooklyn like I do, you know what it’s like to watch a band that is completely unamused and somewhere else. Mozes and The First born were the perfect, lighthearted, garage-pop band to kick off the show.
In between sets, the crowd tripled in size. A wave of twenty-somethings shoved their way to the front as Los Angeles-based Together Pangea jumped right into their set. They briefed the audience stating they would be playing eleven songs, and began with “Sick Shit”. With lyrics such as “My dick is soft, these things mean nothing to me,” one would think Together Pangea can’t be taken seriously. Don’t be fooled, they know exactly what they’re doing. As the set progressed, the crowd and band seemed to tease one another. The band called out girls for sitting, and they later retaliated with a pair of pink lace panties. The underwear was then draped on the bassist’s head, and his mic stand. As the stage dives became more frequent, and the crowd more rowdy, the set abruptly ended. The crowd, myself included, was not accepting this, so they returned for an encore. Closed out with two songs: an untitled track which seemed to be a crowd favorite, and Nirvana’s “Breed.” All in all, this was the perfect mental escape from the reality of Valentines Day; Great bands, and a great atmosphere.
Read our review of their newest album, Badillac, here, or if you’re feeling frisky, listen to “Badillac”, here via Soundcloud:
Together PANGEA just released this music video to promote their new album Badillac and kicked off their tour around the US. They created it in the spirit of friendship it would seem. That is: it was created with their friends to be watched by others and their friends.
A sense of community is apparent from the opening scene of an energetic crowd chanting “One more song!”. The music begins mildly and the close shots of people’s faces bathed in colorful light syncs really well. These scenes change quickly into more lively interactions and the color gains some lens flares and blinking disco lights. We see friends partying together – laughing, drinking, dancing – in private, in public, and, of course, at a Together PANGEA show. There’s boob-flashing, shotgunning of beers, a dark shot of a Del Taco, and a dude blowing beautiful smoke as two people make out in the background. It’s a very active video, but in tiny spurts that draw attention to a larger lifestyle, and the California they are attempting to capture. What stuck out to me the most was the sense of affection that bleeds through every clip, whether people are shooting beer into each others’ mouths or making funny faces as they rock out. This isn’t just a showcase of debauchery and silliness. It’s a showcase of togetherness. We see a man and a woman hungrily kissing each other, until a guy steps in, drags the man away, and proceeds to hungrily kiss him. Love is just in the air.
You can infer that it is the music and California itself that brings all these people into this drunken, stumbling, potent fun. As the words “Get wasted / And lose best friends” are sung, we see two people clearly enamored with each other. Crowd-surfing. Panties. A gorgeous view of Los Angeles at night from above. The lively, low-fi music and William Keegan’s nasal, scratchy vocals were made to accompany a video like this one. These are scenes and feelings we can all recognize and, more so associate with this band.
Together Pangea goes on tour February 1st. They’ll be at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on February 14th. Until then, peep the video here:
Up until now, LA three-piece together PANGEA has perfected an undiluted garage rock aesthetic, with two straight albums filled with track after blisteringly high-speed track of violent, maniacally fun and often sort of garish punk-informed rock and roll. It was kind of one-note, but the note was a good one: the group’s aesthetic trafficked in irreverent energy and sexual frustration, and was bolstered by the disparaging deadpan of frontman William Keegan’s vocals, as well as the spininess of the group’s stripped-down instrumentals. This instrumental simplicity and unchecked energy worked in the young band’s favor. Even when the group lacked breadth, their noise turned to full blast for the length of an entire album, it played into together PANGEA’s disheveled, youthful style.
The group’s new album, Badillac, clearly holds this framework as its headquarters, but doesn’t take long to begin wandering outside of together PANGEA’s well-worn stomping grounds. The production is slightly cleaner and more mature-sounding than what we’ve seen in the past from them, the album is thematically a bit more melancholy, but the most noticeable shift is in the weightiness of the instrumental lines. Heavy, hard rock bass lines add heft to Badillac‘s composition, and serve as a gratifying extra kick to the energy of the album.
By halfway through, you may be wondering whether together PANGEA has finally grown up. The answer, “Sick Shit” will tell you, is no: “My dick is soft/these things mean nothing to me,” Keegan whines, before the song launches into a punchy, moshable hook that would be heartbroken if it weren’t so damn snotty.
“No Way Out,” though, is a bleak, pensive little number: much quieter than the kind of sound for which together PANGEA is known. The song still maintains a very simple structure, lush with cello and vocal lines that cycle broodingly over the track like vultures. Though it isn’t my favorite track on the album—the repetition, ultimately, doesn’t bring us anywhere remarkable– “No Way Out” establishes the low point of a dynamic range that helps the highs hit higher.
However, the next and last track on Badillac, “Where The Night Ends,” is much more satisfactory, and manages to apply the entire spectrum of the album’s emotional range to just one song. Simmering and catchy, “Where The Night Ends” matches the intensity of its dark, power-packed riffs with a vocal line that’s first whispered, then screamed. The deconstructed intimacy the group hints at throughout the album is finally, undeniably realized with the hidden track that emerges after a minute of silence following “Where The Night Ends.” Stripped down, distorted vocals and guitar end Badillac on an introspective, and beautifully weary note. At its close, the album zooms out, away from the music’s violent immediacy, and offers a bird’s eye view of the wreckage left in its wake.
Gohereto purchase Badillac, out January 21st, and listen to the title track off the new album below:
Each week Audiofemme gives away a set of tickets to our featured shows in NYC! Scroll down to enter for the following shindigs.