Three days of music explodes in Echo Park!
Wire’s DRILL Los Angeles Festival kicked off with a three band night at The Echo (the smaller of the two venues living in the same building) with performances by Alina Bea, Immersion, and Bob Mould. As I’ve said before, I’m somewhat of a fan of The Echo (and its basement counterpart, Echoplex). The sound is almost always on point. The only downside of the upstairs is the lighting and small size of the stage leave a bit to be desired. It’s no surprise that most of the punk rock and smaller indie acts play upstairs while the downstairs houses larger bands and equally larger stage. That said, the intimacy provided by The Echo is its strongest point, and for the evening’s performances, that was a must.
Alina Bea took the stage first and quite honestly blew the crowd away. Most of the people present were clearly Bob Mould and Immersion Fans, but damn if they weren’t won over by Alina’s sheer stage presence and her incredible band. Her energetic performance and ethereal vocals bring to mind Kate Bush, fused with a modern independent pop sound focused on finely crafted soundscapes. Björk also comes to mind, and just as I was having such a thought, the band knocked out a booming cover of “Army of Me.” The set was short, and she deserved a larger stage, but she definitely had the audience in her hands within the first 30 seconds.
Immersion followed with an abstract and hypnotic performance as equally mesmerizing as it could be frustrating. For the most part, the flow was very well balanced, but there were a few moments that made me wonder how the hell so many people were still standing. This is an issue that I take with most “art-electronica,” but, fortunately, Immersion still won me over regardless. I’m one of those people who, in absence of stage performance, likes to close their eyes and let the music meld with my imagination to create cinematic dreamscapes. Colin Newman (Wire) and Malka Spiegel (Minimal Impact) hadn’t released any new music together in 17 years until recently, and they have not only shown up almost every modern synth-wave film composer, but also every instrumental electronic producer in one go.
The headliner of the evening was Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) and while it was prefaced that his set would be solo electric, I wasn’t 100% sure if my immediate summation of that statement would be correct until, sure enough, he came out with his electric guitar and pedal rack. That was it. Oh, and there was that loud as hell amp that said BLACKSTAR across it. Now is the moment where I humbly admit that my knowledge of Bob Mould’s music (outside of academic history) is woefully low. I wasn’t the guy in the center of the audience who was losing his mind all night, singing every word, grinning from ear to ear, but I was incredibly impressed. The last time I heard anyone doing solo material with an electric guitar was Justin Sane’s (Anti-Flag) ill-fated attempt, and from that I pretty much became incredibly biased against the idea of such a performance. Hell if Bob Mould didn’t prove me an idiot for thinking that. He had absolute command of the stage and rocked that guitar so loud and so hard that you could almost hear the missing drums and bass in your head. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have still preferred a full band performance, but his prowess and his power were enough to satisfy this humble heathen.
Set List (via setlist.fm)
- Hoover Dam (Sugar)
- Your Favorite Thing (Sugar)
- The End of Things
- See a Little Light
- I Apologize (Hüsker Dü)
- The War
- The Descent
- You Say You
- Lonely Afternoon
- Sinners and Their Repentances
- Hardly Getting Over It (Hüsker Dü)
- Pray For Rain
- Stand Guard
- Chartered Trips (Hüsker Dü)
- Voices in my Head
- Hold On
- Moving Trucks
- If I can’t Change Your Mind (Sugar)
- In a Free Land (Hüsker Dü)
- Celebrated Summer (Hüsker Dü)
- Daddy’s Favorite
- Black Confetti
Day 2’s festival lineup promises to be just as eclectic and just as exciting, but for Day 01, this festival has clearly set the bar pretty high!
All photos taken at The Echo are © Oliver Brink 2017.