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The Echo is a place for atmosphere. While the enclave often finds itself housing playful local bands adopting a more lighthearted approach, there are some of those nights that remind Angelenos why they go to shows in the first place.
The ethos of the night was set by the lovely, sexually alloyed actress-turned-indie-princess Jena Malone and her band. Malone took the stage with a black bob wig over the top of her mouse brown head, supported by an almost caricatured 60s psych band. Between the music’s slow whispery buildups and sweeping moments and her soulful balladry alternated by a saccharine Jenny Lewis resemblance, Malone had just enough spunk to make herself, and her bandmates, a believable bunch.
“I felt like I invoked what I came here to invoke,” said Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox after the first few songs of the band’s set. He is skeletal, alien-like, and is wearing a dress. He is holding the mic in his mouth, using the grip of his teeth. He is damn serious about the music—pastoral-printed mini dress and all. This no better described than as a sonic fuckfest the drunken crowd can’t argue with. Aural collisions taking place offstage and on, Deerhunter could have stolen the show if it hadn’t been for The Ponys’ preparation…and contrast.
And they were prepared. The practice of showmanship set by stage wigs and dresses disappeared, replaced by a newfound automation with just enough relaxedness to bestow straight-up credibility to the band. The Ponys’ laid backedness changed the entire mood of the room, letting an explosive yet compact sound take the place of histrionics of the sets coming before it.
Turn The Lights Out, The Ponys’ newest release, was basically set to shuffle, and the band threw in some garage classics in the mix for good measure. The band plowed through the psych-jam “Poser Psychotic,” the new-wave borrowed “1209 Seminary,” and the mysterious, cryptic “Harakiri,” giving the audience no time to reflect on a single matter.
At times the crowd was relentlessly following along holding their breath, and at other times letting go and bobbing along to more rambling songs like “Turn the Lights Out” and “Shine.” All the Lights Out material was so dead-on throughout it was impossible to disengage. But the highlight of the show came when an abrupt 2-person mosh pit was instigated during “Let’s Kill Ourselves,” an old Ponys favorite. The crowd did not let them last long. A makeshift dance floor took its place instead for the rest of the night, taking up the first three rows as The Ponys closed off their set with the bouncing, synthy lines of the exuberant “Pickpocket Song.”
O what a night.
Wanna hear some Deerhunter?