From the Westsouth: Wednesday the 13th
Wednesday the 13th
Nothing unlucky about this day.
Well, now that this day is two weeks ago, I really truly honestly can’t remember anything unlucky about it. Why? Let me go search my memory vaults.
I don’t think I slept well the morning of June 13th. And, yes, I say morning, because who actually goes to bed before midnight? My sleep was fitful because I was nervous. And, yes, even I get nervous. I was nervous because that day, on my radio show, I was having a live band in to perform and interview. Something I’d never ever done before because it seemed complicated and difficult to set up. But, once upon a time, my sister went to a Said The Whale concert, and a band called Song Preservation Society played before them. After the concert, when she went to their merch table, she signed up for the mailing list and got a free cd, which she then gave to me. What a great sister, right? And I like their music, and they’re small and local, so I emailed and asked if they would be so kind as to send an album to KSPC. They responded positively, and asked what the opportunities for in-studio performances were. Well, umm, you could come into my show? And that’s what they agreed to do. Meanwhile, I scrambled to read as much about them as possible and write insightful interview questions with the advice of some of my close friends. Especially Kyle. The kid’s practically a pro what with his interviewing Matt Bishop of Hey Marseilles and Tony Ruland of The Lonely Forest.
I showed up to my radio show about 45 minutes early to prep, calm myself, and pull music for the time in my show that wouldn’t be occupied by Song Preservation Society (from here on out, I’m calling them SPS). They weren’t supposed to show up till 415 to set up and such, and then they were going to go on air after 5. But, of course, that didn’t stop them from showing up at 355. You know, 5 minutes before my show started. When I actually saw them enter the KSPC lobby door, I had half a mind to just run into the on-air studio and not introduce myself before starting the show (honest admission), because I was like, “these people are in a band! they make beautiful music! they’re older than I am! I don’t know how to talk to them like regular people!” (p.s. I don’t know why I’m revealing my internal insecurities to you, but it’s happening.) But they came anyway. Ethan Glazer, Trevor Bahnson, and Daniel Wright. The three beautiful voices and guitars comprising Song Preservation Society. (And Ethan’s girlfriend, Kaylin). When I said that I was Shannon, they all seemed pretty genuinely excited to meet me, and then paused with all their instruments and such. I quickly explained that my show was actually about to start in a couple minutes, and the DJ before me was going to come out and help them set up all their stuff. I then dashed into the studio, hurriedly put some music on, and announced my show. During a couple long songs, I dashed out to see how set up was going, and if they wanted to interview before or after playing music. They went with before. So I tentatively requested 445. They looked super involved with sound checking, and seemed entangled with wires only minutes before, but somehow made it into the studio in time. The studio, you know, where I was sitting on a step stool so that they could have 3 chairs all squished together around one mic. When they got in, the song I was playing was almost over, so I turned to them and asked, “do you guys wanna go in 20 seconds?” To which Ethan replied, “you wanna fight?” I laughed, and immediately felt more at ease. These guys were going to make this easy for me. When their website says they’re known for their “charismatic live performances,” it wasn’t lying. So I launched into a 20 minute interview. Read my transcription here: kspc.org. As they were leaving, I noted each band member’s attire. The unnamed leader, Ethan, was wearing a plaid button down shirt with plaid shorts. not in a matching way. oh, and he was wearing tall dinosaur socks. He had a bit of a playful spark about him. (oh, please, Ethan read this and just laugh at me.) Trevor, who seemed laid back, but amused, wore tall black socks, sensible shoes, and a light blue shirt to match his eyes. (oh, please, Trevor read this and just laugh at me.) Daniel, who is the least recognizable from internet pictures and their album cover, was sporting a great beard and a thoughtful demeanor. maybe it was just the fact that he stroked his beard. (oh, please, Dan read this and just laugh at me.)
They left my studio, and moved back to their instruments, where they assured me they’d rather be than talking. They played for about 50 minutes. Technically, the whole thing wasn’t supposed to be over an hour, but I really really didn’t care. At one point, they looked through the window at me and were like, time for one or two more..? and I just mouthed, “more! more!” because that is seriously what I wanted.
Their live performance is amazing. and so emotionally charged. Once again, a live performance that will forever change my listening of an album. It just adds so many more layers of emotional depth and strain. SPS played songs from their first album, as well as beautiful new ones, even throwing in a country-twang number near the end. That was pretty hilarious. They all took on such great accents on their singing voices. “Just Like A Dream,” one of my favorites of Song Preservation Society, was just so incredibly gorgeous live, I wanted to melt. Each time they finished a song, even though they couldn’t hear through the studio glass, I clapped.
After everything was over and done, I gave them lemon bars because, let’s be honest, they definitely deserved them, they gave me hugs (I received 3 from each band member. 9 hugs a day? I could work with that.), and invited me to their show at Hotel Café on Friday. I wa actually very seriously considering going, but I looked it up after and realized it was 21 and over. GAH. SO SAD. I honestly think SPS thought I was a lot older than I actually am, which made me laugh, but unfortunately, I could not go to their show. One of the band members may or may not have advised me to get a fake ID. After we left the studio, the band went and laid down in our grassy quad, and as I was walking toward them, I shouted out, “look like a band!” and then took a picture on my phone.
Oh, gosh. They’re just so great. Check them out at songpreservationsociety.com. (p.s. that site was plugged so much on my show.)
I was legitimately on a high after that. My friend Michael, who had come for SPS’s performance, and I then were off into LA to go to the Troubadour to see Phantom Planet, for one of their first shows in 4 years. Two nights only. Our night, the first one, was far from over at this point.
As I lined up, I noted the crowd. Mostly people older than I, maybe late 30s. But then there seemed to be a gap until college age kids, like me. Interesting. We filed into the Troubadour, and before anyone started playing, the ambient music was Ra Ra Riot. Seriously, just playing through The Rhumb Line. I danced around and sang along. It was beautiful. Already the night was even more awesome, and no bands had come out.
Finally, Haim, a band of 3 sisters, took the stage and performed rollicking songs. No, seriously, that’s probably the most rock and roll live concert I’ve ever experienced, and I enjoyed it SO much. I had listened to a couple of songs off their website (there’s a free download, I believe), and didn’t really like it that much. But live? SO entertaining. The oldest sister, Este plays bass and makes the best faces.
After playing one especially awesome song, she said, “I’m getting pregnant tonight. … Probably by the bro in the tank here. What? Don’t tell me you’re gay. Really? No. Since middle school, 7 of my boyfriends have told me I’m the reason they knew they were gay.” An awkward silence followed until the lead singer, middle sister Danielle said, “I feel weird playing our last song on that note…” The whole band was in a state of disbelief over opening for Phantom Planet, since they’d all been obsessed with the band and dreamed of even just meeting them when they were younger. The youngest sister, Alana, plays guitars and drums, and shouted out, “Get excited for Phantom Planet! If I were in the crowd, I would probably get naked and cry.”
Phantom Planet lead singer, Alex Greenwald, did join them onstage for a sing-a-long of the anthem, “The Galleria,” which practically everyone in the crowd knew. not me. but still, I could feel the awesome, hilarious vibes. Cool side note that I just discovered: Haim was Vogue’s band of the week back in February. That’s pretty awesome. Props.
Then, we waited.
Then, the screams started.
Then, Phantom Planet started playing.
Ok, backing up a little bit. Want to know how I first discovered Phantom Planet? Gossip Girl. No lie. Their song, “Do the Panic” was on an episode back in the beginning when I still watched it because it was still good. I really liked the song, looked it up, and bought the album, Raise the Dead, released in 2008.That’s their 4th, and last, full length album. I didn’t buy their biggest original album, The Guest, released in 2001, till a few days before their concert. But I really do enjoy it now! iTunes talks a lot about The Guest being harder, their 2nd album Phantom Planet being poppy-er, and then Raise the Dead being the perfect blend of the two, and not isolating any fans while bringing new ones to the table. I was one of those new ones. And, oh, how I listened to that album on repeat. I know so many of the words. Oh, and for the record, the reason you might know Phantom Planet is because they sing “California.” You know, the opening track to that once super popular tv show “The O.C.”? I honestly didn’t know they sang that song until at least a year after I bought Raise the Dead. It just sounds so different! I love how harsh Alex Greenwald’s vocals are, but how still the music is totally hook-filled pop. And “California” is just so much more chill.
Back to the show.
Phantom Planet came out. And started playing their first show in 4 years. Also nostalgic, because they played their FIRST FIRST show EVER at the Troubadour in 1994. Let us note that their first album came out in 1998. Let us also note how young all the band members STILL are. Lead singer, Alex, is 32. NOW. He was born in 1979. That means, for his first show, he was 15. FIFTEEN. Can you believe that?!? Wikipedia tells me that most of the band’s friends couldn’t attend that show because, “they were still in high school.” The band came out with their first album when the kid was 19. Pretty darn impressive. I was expecting them to be older. But they looked like they could be a band in their prime time right now. Except when you could tell they were harking back to their youth when they all came out wearing Phatnom Planet shirts for the encore and just seemed kinda giddy. haha. <3.
Alex Greenwald slowly removed layers of clothing, to screams from the audience, even though he told us it was “nothing to get excited about.”
Between rocking out, he said, “I’m really sweaty. But more than I am sweaty, you guys are awesome. Science fact.” He just had this great nerd-y, outcast, deeply emotional and sincere vibe. I felt like I was in a 90s movie. Maybe because he really really looks like the guy from the movie, “Expiration Date,” who’s really nerdy and precious. haha. I don’t really know, but it was wonderful. So wonderful that the girl next to Michael was rocking out hard core enough that he would’ve bet money that he was going to get punched before the concert was over. Her friend gave a little apologetic look/shrug, but I was in full support of that girl. rocking out without a care to probably her favorite band? As it should be. I had my fair share of rocking out when they played songs from Raise the Dead, interestingly enough, they didn’t play “Do the Panic.” But I was ok with it. I got to hear “Dropped” and “Leader” (introduced with references to cults like Jonestown in order to hint at the song) and “Ship Lost at Sea” (introduced with “This song is about dissonance. Seeking a harmony.” AHHHHH. SUCH A GREAT QUOTE.) There was a hearty sing-a-long of “California,” and Alex crowd surfed at one point. It was legitimately a blast. I had such a good time, and just came out smiling a smile that didn’t fade from my face quickly. There were just so many good vibes! mmmm. music. <3
LOVE. Love is so right. Thank you, topiary seller next to The Troubadour.