Written and photographed by Susanna De Martino
The show is opened by Sam Cohen, a singer whose band is playing its first show together tonight. Despite their lack of experience performing together, the group puts on a tight and cohesive show, performing a series of garage-rock style songs with sprawling, epic electric guitar solos. The music serves as a good backdrop for an audience that is still trickling in and getting ready for the night ahead, if not fully focused on the music at hand.
“I’m on a mission to say no self-deprecating things on stage tonight,” is how Eskimeaux’s Gabrielle Smith begins her set, but she needn’t worry. The crowd is immediately taken with the band’s experimental “flower punk” sound. The group is at its best when the background noise quiets for a moment to let Smith’s ethereal voice take center stage, as it does on “The Thunder Answered Back,” a drum and vocals-driven track which crescendos into an ode to flighty love. “It must feel like fucking hell to be a patchwork of yourself” sings Smith, but coming from her it sounds more like heartbreak than anger.
Once Teen Suicide takes the stage with their particular brand of lo-fi pop punk, it’s clear the crowd is here to see them as much as Alex G. Dancing turns into moshing, and the band responds to the energy in the room with enthusiasm. They cover Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” and the intro to “Friends,” and, to the delight of the audience, play an unrecorded song titled “God.” Their best song of the night, however, is an older one. “Oh My God,” a stirringly melancholy song about infatuation, departs from the group’s usual noise-pop sound in favor of a simple guitar melody overlaid with a duet by the group’s two vocalists. This tour with Alex G is partially in celebration of Teen Suicide’s recent signing with Run For Cover Records, and it’s clear that the band’s fan base is excited for any new material the group has to offer.
Alex G has the uncanny ability to play heavy-hearted music that pumps up an audience. He's not expansive on the stage, doesn't speak beyond the necessary amount, but once he begins playing the emotion is there. Simple, catchy melodies are overlaid with his signature moody lyrics. "Everything we do we do it all wrong," he sings, and it is more of an anthem than a complaint—there are lighters in the air. The electric guitar set, in a relatively large venue like Palisades, is a change of pace for bedroom pop like Alex’s, which sounds more at home in more intimate places. However, like any good performer, he adapts to the situation, playing his music a little more forcefully and cutting many of the characteristic falsettos and breaks that are present on his recorded albums. There’s a certain tenderness to his music that's lost as a result of this, but it certainly gets the audience moving. As a songwriter, Alex revels in the intricacies and ordeals of growing up, and he has certainly documented a large part of the process for himself—he’s hugely prolific, with over eighty recorded tracks and several unreleased ones circulating online. His lyrics are pithily melancholy: “I am not the boy you knew,” he sings, and later “we loved you then/it’s not the same/I don’t like how things change.” Alex G is growing: age-wise, musically, and in popularity. It’s not a painless process, but as long as he’s here to write about it, it’s one that’s worth listening to.
Listen to Alex G's music here: http://sandy.bandcamp.com/
Listen to Teen Suicide's music here: http://teensuicide.bandcamp.com/
Listen to Eskimeaux's music here: http://eskimeaux.bandcamp.com/
Like Sam Cohen on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samcohenmusic/