Young alumni filled out the wide sideways performance space at Bardot on Monday for another session of Chris Douridas’ SCHOOL NIGHT!
Warships do heart-swooning indie pop without a trace of ego. Imagine “Smooth Operator” if multiplied by Journey and brought down a register. “Flash Flood” opened with a slow-tempo dance beat and I immediately tapped my heels throughout the performance. Lead vocalist, Edson Choi, bobbed his head side-to-side and closed his eyes to block the paparazzi flash of voracious cameramen. Elliot Craig’s atmospheric synth lines were a pedestal for echo-laced pitter-pater guitar riffs, soaring vocal harmonies and memorable DIY pop hooks. Kudos to the sound guy and Choi’s crisp delivery. Every word of the performance was discernible. However, 30% of the voicings were variations of whoa, oooh and ahhhh. And the songs abated none of my lyrical appetite. Repetitions like “I’m a haunted man” and “Do you see the city lights?” offered no nutritional value. Leaving this young quintet at an impasse: do they live harder, hurt more and expose more vulnerability? relegate songwriting duties to new parties? strive for more clever wordplay to elicit humor and contemplation? Or do they refine the pabulum of play-it-safe choruses and refrains for widespread digestion? They’ll have to decide because these exuberant melodies are destined to gallivant upon soapbox after soapbox, as Kevin Bronson put it, “we bob [our] heads accordingly.” It’s harsh. I know. But don’t hate me for wanting to have my Warship and eat it too. They have immense potential.
Here’s footage of their performance of “Sleeper Hold.” I didn’t go to film school.
Stream their new EP at their Bandcamp. Perfect for fans of Band of Horses, Foals, Maritime or Real Estate.
Chief performed as a 3-piece and I only caught their last song. Singer Evan Koga belted a moving ballad backed by folky harmonies from his drummer. Stuff of legend. A seriously languid, and beautifully carefree composition. He wore sunglasses and perched on a stool strumming an acoustic guitar with a clip mic. The set commenced and a mutual friend of theirs lit a cig and took a drag. Then Evan joined in and I thought, Damn, this band doesn’t just sound like The Band, they think they are The Band, smoking inside and all. Then I realized you can smoke in the stage room at Bardot, since there are tarps, not a roof, overhead.
Of course sparse, acoustic work can be dismissed as overdone, oversimplified, trite, expected. But it’s not easy to write and perform sincere, heartfelt folk rock. And personally, a world with too many bands inspired by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sounds like a fantastic alternative to more dubstep remixes. Bands putting too much care and attention into every chord voicing. Every strum. Every story. Chief does it. And I’m for it. Too bad Warship’s enthusiastic crowd petered out before they were done. Must have had an early class the next day. How apropos.
Check out Chief’s page on Domino Records for a couple soulful ditties.
HOLLYWOOD TALK OF FAME
The Internet loves caption contest things so I just made up HOLLYWOOD TALK OF FAME. Here’s the first photo. I took it on the way up to Bardot.
Girl: Okay, so if I give you the canvases and a hundred bucks, you’ll do the paintings right? Like it doesn’t have to be anything spectacular.
Homeless guy: Yeah, sure.
Oh well. Just another night in LA.