Considered a historic Los Angeles monument, the El Rey Theatre is an energetically-charged Art Deco icon that, since its metamorphoses into live show venue in 1994, has hosted the performances of many burgeoning Los Angeles bands.
With its juxtaposed qualities of Southern Californian cultural relevance and warm intimacy, the El Rey acted as the perfect backdrop for the musical prowess of two Los Angeles-based bands.
The first, KROQ favorite and headliner, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Foster the People[/lastfm], reached emphatic international fame almost immediately when they showcased their indie dance-pop for free at The Echo in January of this year. The second, the relatively unknown opening band, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Electric Guest[/lastfm], is already wooing audiences with their electronic-tinged neo-psychedelic soul–even after only a handful of shows to date.
As evidenced by both their first-rate performances at the El Rey last Friday, Foster The People and Electric Guest share more than sonic and geographic similarities; these two bands seem destined to share similar paths of success.
With a shy and unassuming air, when Electric Guest took the stage, the subtle musical magic they were about to create might not have been apparent to a crowd of young, die-hard Foster the People fans.
The creative vision of lead singer, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Asa Taccone[/lastfm], and drummer,[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”] Matthew Compton[/lastfm], the band is comprised of seasoned musicians who, on the night of the show, maintained an organic dreaminess to their tone while staying musically tight. Producer [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Brian Burton [/lastfm](a/k/a [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Danger Mouse[/lastfm] of [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Gnarls Barkley[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Broken Bells[/lastfm] fame) took notice of this talent and is producing Electric Guest’s upcoming album.
However, their potentiality doesn’t exist squarely in just being great musicians. Emotionally speaking, Electric Guest is a very visceral experience. A combination of spirituality-infused storytelling and fluid musical movements of pure soul evoke a sense of sonic sorcery, with songs like “Awake,” “Amber,” and “Under The Gun” burrowing deep into the subconscious.
While this all sounds incredibly intense, Electric Guest managed to diffuse any over-emotionalism with a few melodic, but dance-driven ’60s-esque joints like “This Head I Hold” and “Waves.” Taccone acts as a darkly alluring nucleus to the magnetic energy of Electric Guest. With an onstage energy reminiscent of [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Prince[/lastfm], Taccone’s boyish face never loses a sense of ecstatical passion, vacillating between introspective brooding and illuminating charm.
Renowned for their ability to send hordes of indie kids into dancing frenzies, Foster the People continued this pattern of beat-based shamanic fervor, charging the stage with wild, primal energy.
A sold-out show, the El Rey Theater was brimming with Foster the People’s unique breed of insatiable fan: young, but musically-intelligent indie rockers with their ear on the pulse of a refreshing, experimental sound.
A little over six months gone from their free Echo residency, Foster the People do not have the same endearing self-conscious clamor, but what they have developed in exchange is polished possession.
With eyes alight in almost demonic intensity, lead singer [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Mark Foster[/lastfm] seems to shrewdly control the energy of both his band and the crowd. Playing hit songs like the radio-darling “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Helena Beat,” Foster seems instinctively in tune with his audience, never letting them slip into that disquieting lull which new bands are apt to inspire with their lack of confidence.
Not that Foster the People really would have had a problem with that anyway; their crowd seemed to have come into the venue drenched with unwavering adoration.
The band could have played a mediocre set and still impressed their devoted fans, but undoubtedly, that energy fed into Foster the People’s raw onstage swagger. Indeed, a band of talented musicians would never have a chance to play a bad show with an audience that exalting.
With the lights glittering on the art deco chandeliers of the El Rey, the romantic red curtains drew in ceremoniously, leaving the crowd breathless, beautifully spent, and full of an unaffected happiness that could only be conjured up by a night full of sweet psychedelic grooves, playful beats, and an intrinsic sonic connection to the poetic heart of Los Angeles.