Live music happens at all hours of the day in Los Angeles. Here are two shows that happened over the weekend, one a concert and one a festival, that we think are worth remembering.
Interpol’s emotional return to ‘Bright Lights’ and 9/11-era anxiety
By August Brown
It’s hard to believe that the New York indie boom of the early 2000s already feels like classic rock. But, well, we’re as far away from 2001 as the mid-’80s were from the Summer of Love.
We have oral histories, reissues and reunions aplenty documenting a time when the Lower East Side wasn’t just a never-ending grid of condos and bank branches. One when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, the Strokes and Interpol made the most exciting rock music since the grunge era.
On Saturday, at the newly renovated Los Angeles State Historic Park, Interpol became the first band to explicitly revisit that era with a front-to-back, full-album live set of the band’s moody and nervy 2002 album “Turn on the Bright Lights.” The record was a near-flawless vision at the time — retro enough in its Joy Division references, modern enough in its post-9/11 malaise — and it made Interpol an instant superstar. The group has had ups and down since — an underrated second LP, a major-label brass-ring grab and a late-career return to its indie brooding.
But Saturday’s show was an eerie, emotional return to a time when New York was reeling but its bands were better than they had been since the Ramones.
Ween fans rule Music Tastes Good festival on a day with pointed messages from Slaves and Protomartyr
By Randall Roberts
Wearing a dark suit jacket and mismatched pants, holding a cigarette in one hand and a cup of beer in the other, lead barker and could-be middle-manager Joe Casey of Detroit band Protomartyr wasn’t about to let the Pacific breeze soften his message on the first day of the Music Tastes Good food and music festival in Long Beach.
As seagulls shot past a drone humming overhead, Protomartyr, performing in support of its excellent new record, “Relatives in Descent,” triggered hardened post-punk frequencies that seemed to penetrate the wind like bullets through feathers. Casey sang of “vomit and rage spewing forth in the drive-thru,” of “fussing and fighting eternally” and of “false news beamed right in — male plague!”
With the deadpan misanthropy of “American Splendor” writer Harvey Pekar or Charles Bukowski, Protomartyr’s Casey looked at the modest crowd during this second installment of Music Tastes Good and uttered, “False happiness is piled high” as the band — distorted guitar, looping bass and minimalist, snare-heavy drum patterns — crafted punk tones that echoed with jagged remnants of Joy Division and Interpol.
It was indeed a lovely day for tunes near the ocean, where Long Beach- and Torrance-born punk band Joyce Manor, joke rock iconoclasts Ween, Cameroonian expat Laetitia Tamko (who records as Vagabon), Argentine experimental pop artist and actress Juana Molina and glam-fueled L.A. outfit Diane Coffee performed Saturday.