By DONNA BALANCIA
The bands Elle Belle and Dream Machines made a hot night of new music a little cooler with sounds that shook Chinatown on Saturday.
Chinatown, known for its 1980s legacy of the West Coast home of up-and-coming punk rockers, polished off some of its faded gleam during a steamy night that sparkled with talented altermative musical acts. There was no shortage of confetti bombs fired off during the night that lasted til 1 a.m. By that time, the paper shooters were on sale for three for a dollar, down from $5 each at 8 p.m.
There were also musical bargains galore during Chinatown Summer Nights which was curated by Kevin Bronson of Buzz Bands LA and sponsored KCRW and various restaurants and magazines. It’s an an effort to bring a family flavor and a little attention to Chinatown, a section of LA that seems to get the short shrift compared with Downtown LA for its share of the entertainment dollar these days.
But the great music was kicking up against a backdrop of worry by friends and family for loved ones in the valley and in Burbank who were threatened by the La Tuna Fire. The unusually high temperatures didn’t help firefighting efforts and that was on the forefront of attendees’ minds.
Saint Cecelia opened a night of music that gave way to everything from disco surf to electric pop and almost everything in between, with Saint Cecilia, Francisca Valenzuela and The Americans opening a night of fun performances.
Buzz Bands LA
Bronson, who is a busy man with his Buzz Bands site and radio show on KCSN, amidst a zillion other projects, sure knows how to pick ’em, drawing crowds and curious, young and old alike. We hate that trendy term “curated” but Bronson and his keen sense of what’s hot did help make the evening a pleasant mix of musical acts.
Zealyn, known for her stint on American Idol seemed somewhat slightly out of place amidst the alternative rockers on the Chinatown bill. Her appearance was physical and fun if not purely pop. She sure has legions of fans who attended the show, many posing for photos with her after her set.
New Electric Sound
The New Electric Sound showed the crowd how to put on a physical act that highlighted their new music and the talents of this fun band. By the end of the night when they appeared on stage, they had the full attention of the crowd, many of whom knew the musical repertoire and bandmembers personally. We look forward to hearing some of the new material when it’s released.
Elle Belle is a peculiar band — a cross between Todd Rundgren and Sonic Youth — there’s a sense of humor with this group and no shortage of talent. Frontman Chris Pappas has an excellent voice and he’s supported by some talented side musicians including Amin and the gang. The band has been around in different iterations and the group that performed at Chinatown Summer Nights was exactly what the night needed.
Dream Machines is no newcomer to the world of music and they put on a disco-new wave dance party that keeps the crowd rocking. The band has great performing style — they’ve got catchy songs, upbeat style and fun, self-deprecating humor. The vocal range of frontman Harry May Kline is incredibly impressive as he spans several octaves, ably vocalizing from low tones to the upper stratosphere. He covers all the bases. He’s got good company with bandmembers who go along with his antics. Keyboardist Luke Burba gives an outer-spacey feeling with his innovative sounds. Molly on vocals, Travis on drums and Matt on sax keep it all moving.