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Live review: Funeral Party at the Bootleg Theater

September 22, 2010 |  4:55 pm

Fp For a very young band playing a very au courant danceable art-punk, the east L.A. quintet Funeral Party is most concerned with some of the oldest virtues of rock music. Drums should be neat and feverish; guitars should play lacerating riffs instead of full chords; and vocals should drip with equal parts venom and desperation. Pretty much every great rock band from the Rolling Stones to LCD Soundsystem could identify with that. And Los Angeles might have another one of its own in Funeral Party.

The band kicked around the margins of the L.A. punk scene for a number of years, especially on the strength of its early bongo-bruising single “Carwars,” before being unexpectedly snapped up by RCA for its forthcoming debut album,  “Golden Age of Knowhere.”

A good dozen tides of local hype have ebbed and flowed by them since, and that's likely to Funeral Party’s  benefit. Because at the third installment of their residency at the Bootleg Theater last night, they proved that in the meantime they’ve grown into a ravenously physical, technically precise and impossibly fun live act.

Opening with the waltz-time title track off their new record, singer Chad Elliott made a good case for being the best male vocalist in local rock right now –- he can shriek like Jagger and flail like MacKaye while still peeling off a dozen good melodic ideas in every tune. “Carwars” hasn’t lost a bit of its kinesis in the interim years, but newer songs showed a clarity likely gleaned from time in a good studio but totally translated onstage. “Youth & Poverty” had a great crest of frothing guitars in the margins tempered with a sad little organ in the bridges, and even the obligatory moody, half-time ballad “Relics to Ruins” never felt somber -– more like the point in an arena show where the fireworks come out.

And while we have to root for any band with an insanely cocky, night-closing single called “New York City Moves to the Sound of L.A.,” the title is more than good-natured needling. It’s announcing a new round of our perpetual bicoastal game of musical chess, one where Funeral Party clearly jacked the grimy bass of the Rapture and caveman leads of the Velvets and proclaimed that Whittier can do it better. Your move, New York. 

-- August Brown

[UPDATE: This post originally misspelled the title of “Golden Age of Knowhere.”]

Photo via Funeral Party.