In Friday's Calendar, two night life stories touch on some very different corners of L.A.'s music culture. First is a long lament at the closing of the Historic Filipinotown late-night staple Dinner House M, a favorite haunt of Echo Park musicians with a bad idea in their heads at 1:30 am. Members of Health, Puro Instinct and the minds behind the infamous Wednesday night Grown party give fond recollections.
Second is a quick survey of a neat secret-show series happening on the rooftop of the Hollywood Tower apartment complex. Bands like Mumford & Sons, TV on the Radio and Foster the People have played sets to no more than a few dozen people on the French-Norman castle rooftop, booked as an amenity for residents and sponsored by the rock station 98.7 FM. Florence & the Machine drops by on June 14, but if you want to go, the only ways in are to win a station contest -- or sign a lease.
-- August Brown
On Sept. 25, the Hollywood Bowl will host one of the largest bills of the season with five acts: TV on the Radio, Arctic Monkeys, Panda Bear, Warpaint and Smith Westerns. Call it a mini-Coachella for fans of au courant rock, except it won't be repeating itself a week later.
All the bands have released fetching albums in the last year or so, or have albums on the near horizon, with TV on the Radio's "Nine Types of Light" praised as a crystalline gem of "brilliant clarity" by Pop & Hiss' Chris Barton. The U.K. football-loving Arctic Monkeys will be releasing the rather bluntly titled "Suck It and See" on Tuesday. Closer to home, Warpaint, the favorites of Chili Pepper John Frusciante, released its Rough Trade debut, "The Fool," last year, garnering praise from England to the foursome's home base in Los Angeles.
Except for TV on the Radio, all the acts are Bowl newbies. Animal Collective's Noah Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear, will radiate the September air with his static-and-synth onslaught from "Tomboy" in what will be his only West Coast performance in support of the album. Despite all members being born in the '90s, Chicago's Smith Westerns raided the '60s for its bright, psychedelic pop-influenced album, "Dye It Blonde."
Tickets go on sale June 18 at hollywoodbowl.com or at the box office.
-- Margaret Wappler
Photo: TV on the Radio, courtesy of the band.
"Hold Your Holy" arrives at the midpoint of the debut album from Malone's solo project, which he has given the moniker Rain Machine. The song uses a gospel-inflected keyboard as a starting point, but its ultimate direction, like many of the 10 songs on the self-titled album, isn't easily mapped. A rhythmic march explodes into a stutter, and guitars dress the verses rather than lead them. Malone dips into a falsetto, but abruptly jumps out of, as if he's caught in a a tug of war with the lustful passion expressed in the lyrics.
"One of those most hackneyed subjects in popular music is wanting to dance with someone you’re attracted to," Malone tells Pop & Hiss. "I don’t think it’s because of any kind of lack of creativity on the part of people who write the songs. I feel like it’s reflecting something that has been integral to the human experience for thousands and thousands and thousands of years.
"Not the romanticized sock-hop version of it," he continues, "but the integration of dance and music is something that kept music as a participatory form ,and kept music integrated into the communities. I’m kind of trying to find my version of that song. I like happy poppy songs. I just don’t always have them in my head."
Those familiar with Malone's resume may not necessarily expect them to be there, either. TV on the Radio's 2008 effort "Dear Science" was one of the best-reviewed albums of the year, but also a bit a paranoid one. There's plenty of melodies on it, but they're shrouded in dense, sometimes foreboding, electronic-laced production.
The mood initially struck by Rain Machine isn't any lighter, but it is a bit more organic, perhaps a bit more primal. The beats on "Give Blood" topple over one another, the sound of jungle rhythms dropped off in a city alleyway, and "Smiling Black Faces" is a four-minute tease, with notes and beats raising the tension by flirting with familiar sounds, but staying just left of them. It's one of the many songs Malone says haven't been easy to replicate live (Rain Machine will be in Los Angeles for two shows this weekend).
"There’s a lot of rhythms happening, and it all happened very loosely and in a messy way," Malone says. "That was actually a song where I was working with an engineer and a mixer, and he really wanted to fix it. It was so rambling and sloppy. At first, I let him try to do what he wanted to do, but it started sucking the life out of it. So we scratched and went back to square one, leaving it as it was.
Malone's day job was also a source of inspiration.
"It's our goal to bring down the sun before we leave the stage," teased TV on the Radio singer Tunde Adebempe at the start of his band's set. With the blazing sun especially brutal Saturday, it was a welcome sentiment.
They achieved their goal as dusk and their warm, indie gospel washed over the main-stage crowd.
Rolling through a whip-smart mix of songs, they leaned heavily on their latest, "Dear Science," shimmying like mid-period Talking Heads through the multi-rhythmic nature of the album, ably assisted by a horn section led by L.A.'s own Double G. Older nuggets like "Young Liar" quieted the crowd even further.
But as always, it was their signature anthem, the techno-flavored "Staring at the Sun," that served as the perfect sunset soundtrack to open the evening's main-stage festivities, particularly the return of M.I.A, the cause of last year's Sahara tent catastrophe.
-- Scott T. Sterling
Photo of TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, left, and Tunde Adebimpe by Chris Pizzello / AP
TV on the Radio’s performance Thursday at the Wiltern had an unexpected physical effect on the band’s fans. With each new blast of punky, soulful, arty music, the revelers near the stage leaned back as if pushed by an unseen gale. So much was happening in this music -- blasting guitar, synthesizer effects, flutes and horns and wind chimes -- that each song arose as if from a series of little storms, all of it hiting the crowd like a deluge.
Everyone seemed thrilled to be soaked with sound, including Tunde Adebimpe, the Brooklyn-based group’s charismatic frontman. Though he’s found minor movie stardom as the groom in Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” Adebimpe remains an off-kilter idol: bespectacled, gangly and prone to yelping. As he lurched around flapping his elbows, his voice jumping from rough declamations to smooth falsetto, Adebimpe was a funnel for the tumult of the music.