Travel, networking, music and drinks; it’s that special time again in the city of angels.
Last night was the official kick off for A&R Worldwide’s MUSEXPO United Nations of Music & Media 2009 Conference. The conference brings music business conscientious minds together for the fifth year in a row to discuss how the industry can improve. Earning a reputation as one of the world’s most elite and premier music conferences, panels and networking lunches and dinners are provided in The London Hotel West Hollywood and exclusive artist showcases alternate between The Whiskey A Go Go and The Viper Room throughout the evening portion. This event goes on through Wednesday night, April 29th and you can bet that BeatCrave has got you covered every night!
Networking and talking about the future of music is a very noble career in my book, but what this conference truly comes down to, for me, is the artist showcase. Hand picked by the MUSEXPO staff, the selected artists travel from all over the world to perform for executives and local fans. Some artists hold so much talent, it’s hard to believe that they are unsigned. Then there are some artists who are just lucky to be here.
Want to know how last night’s showcase started out? I’ve got the full review for Sunday night below. Check it out!
This year’s MUSEXPO conference is completely different from last year’s. Not only does it seem a little more exclusive in regards to attendees and artist roster, but the event has now returned to its original location, The London Hotel West Hollywood (formerly the Bel Age). Last year, guests stayed at the Hyatt directly across the House of Blues Sunset but this year participants are getting a little more exercise. There is a commute from The London to The Viper Room as well as The Whiskey.
Since last year’s conference was a first time for me, I thought it was absolutely ludicrous for the showcases to be held in such small venues. House of Blues held such a large crowd, that there was barely any room to walk through and the traffic going up to the Foundation room was also very busy. Yet as I began walking back and forth between The Viper Room and The Whiskey, I noticed that the size was just right. Then again, it WAS just Sunday night. So who knows what kind of turnout the rest of the week will have.
Artist Showcase: [Sunday, April 26th]
LAY LOW 8:00 The Viper Room
The first artist to open the event was an Icelandic singer-songwriter named Lay Low. When I first read the name on the schedule, I thought this was some type of folk band. Well, I was partially right and of course, partially wrong. Lay Low actually does have a folk sound to her music, but as a singer-songwriter herself, she has this fragile sincere touch in everything she does. She is probably the furthest thing from her fellow Icelandic, Bjork. Instead of being avant-guard and almost non-human, Lay Low came across simple and honest as her body seemed to give in to her own guitar playing. Smiling underneath her brown bangs that stopped just above her red shoulders which were dressed in a classic red dress, Lay Low looked on to her banjo player and drummer with a modest attitude. Lay Low may be her stage name, but if you say it with a strong emphasis on the L’s, it sounds naturally beautiful just as what she presented on stage. Lay Low is signed to Nettwerk Records here in Los Angeles. One tape of her singing in a barn was all it took for owner, Terry McBride, to fall in love.
OUR LUNAR ACTIVITIES 8:30 The Whiskey
I soon began to realize that The Viper Room was holding the softer acts. Hence, The Whiskey held Our Lunar Activities, a rock band from Isle of Lewis, Scotland. These guys were definitely the first ones to start the stronger vibe for the night. I’m not sure how old these boys were, but they had solid songwriting skills. With two vocalists who had completely different tones (the lead singer having a brighter tone and the other having a dark and fuller tone), they did a great job dueling with their guitars and lyrics. There was one point where the lead vocalist demanded that the sound guy turned up the vocals. Although, this was more of a band that Something Corporate or Jack’s Mannequin fans would be into, I admired their cohesion as a band. They also gave me a couple of laughs. The first time was when they asked if anyone in audience even heard of Isle of Lewis. (A blatant obvious “NO” was yelled back), and the second time was when I noticed the bass player had letter stickers that spelled out “ASS” on his instrument. I wondered, was it “BASS” before? Did the “B” just fall off? Or did he mean to spell out “ASS” on his bass?
BLACK ROOM 9:00 The Viper Room
The next group took me by surprise. There is always one band of the night that has me on the fence and it’s really odd because every time, it’s an Electric Pop Rock group that does it to me. As I walked back into The Viper Room, the curtains were just opening up again. There, smack dab in the middle, stood the tallest, lankiest, guy I’ve ever seen dressed in black from head to toe. It was hard to tell if he was wearing eyeliner, but I finally concluded my eyes were just playing tricks on me. Their music started and from the intro and look of the band (who were all also dressed in black from head to toe), I got a very Depeche Mode vibe. However, when the vocalist finally opened his mouth, it was a lot prettier and more gentle than I thought it would be. He had a great range as his melodies would weave back and forth between his chest and his head voice. Then he began to do these things that reminded me of Brandon Flowers and perhaps…. the lead vocalist of Panic! At the Disco? (Maybe if he had eyeliner on.) Hitting his chest to the beat and staring intensely into one spot of the audience gave the band such a dramatic front, I asked myself if I was watching The Killers in their prime. Towards the middle of their set, I was still undecided on how I felt about this band, but then they did one song instrumental while the vocalist took a step back and jammed out to it in the corner… The lights were finally fully utilized to this instrumental song and as the music soared, I felt like I was at a mini-Coachella performance. I was a fan of that feeling. My conclusion: Black Room is a band that could absolutely grow on me.
DEAD LETTER CIRCUS 9:30 The Whiskey
So if you know my taste by now, you know that my niche is indie pop dripping with distortion. Queensland, Australian band, Dead Letter Circus, is the exact opposite of that. They’re not cute. They don’t lay with a low profile. This alternative, post-grunge, progressive-rock band was definitely heavier than most of what I listen to. Every now and then, I’ll listen to The Mars Volta, Deftones, and At The Drive-In, but most of the time my I’ll stay on the softer side with Incubus. So when I saw Dead Letter Circus last night, I was completely taken aback with how much I was loving their sound. They should be playing stadiums with a talented vocalist and an insane drummer like that. This drummer! This fucking drummer was completely out of this world. Although, the band’s sound is a very successful collaboration, the drummer was the one I was most awed with. It’s been a long time since one band member has captured my attention for an entire set list, but this drummer was completely insane. I recommend you go to their MySpace right now, and listen to his drumming, because as I – a simple indie pop lover – walked out the Whiskey right after their set, I had already decided that this hardcore band was my favorite act of the night.
PURPLE MELON 10:00 The Viper Room
As I entered The Viper Room once again, I still had a high from Dead Letter’s Circus so the next band was almost hilarious. I don’t mean hilarious as in bad or no talent, because Purple Melon is actually quite impressive. I just couldn’t stop myself from giggling as soon as they started their set. I felt like I was pushed into a time warp by surprise. In front of me, was this shaggy haired, baby-faced, boy who was wearing multi-printed floral patterns with a pair of bell bottoms… Then as I scanned the rest of the stage, I noticed all the band members had shaggy mops for haircuts and wait a minute… is that Sanjaya from American Idol? Without a doubt, I did a double take when I saw thier bass player. Black shaggy mop (House of Sanjaya…), white opened shirt with obvious bell bottoms… it was a little too much! Coming from something as aggressive as Dead Letter Circus to this deliciously psychedelic British band was one of the most amusing 180′s I had ever experienced. However, getting back to the music! These guys are from Britain but they are here in LA finishing up their album with appropriate producer, Paul Stancey, who has worked with Black Crowes and Oasis. Their sound is definitely a throwback to the classic rock and hippie loving era, but it’s nothing less than solid. The harmonies were all there in both the vocals and guitars, the bass lines were tight, and their drummer was so into it that he broke through a snare. As he showed his broken snare to the audience and ripped it just a bit more to show his massive strength, one older and wiser executive yelled, “What the fuck are you doing, kid?” Fortunately, there was an extra snare lying around and they continued their set. From the audience’s unanimous reaction, Purple Melon was by far everyone’s favorite act of the night.
BIGELF 10:30 The Whiskey
Now, if I did a 180 at The Viper Room, I came back full circle with Bigelf at The Whiskey. This venue was definitely not playing it safe tonight. Bigelf, the newest band to be signed to Linda Perry’s label, Custard Records, was the most unique band of the night, and by unique, I REALLY mean unique. On stage, there appeared to be 4 Jesuses (Jesi?) on stage, that is if Jesus were on meth. Lead vocalist: Jesus in a kimono (and eyeliner.) Bass player (on the left instead, actually): Jesus in dreads. Guitarist: Jesus. Drummer: Jesus. Now I don’t mean to be sacrilegious, because I’m actually fan of Jesus, but this had to be the craziest set yet! With an opening line like “I feel faint” above eerie organ chords, I knew this was going to be some performance and boy, was I right. Out of nowhere, shoots these green laser lines. Everyone… Jesuses with a laser show. Oh Linda Perry, you WOULD sign a band like this. Bigelf definitely had their own style and their own sound. Check their MySpace out if you are intrigued… (How can you resist now?)
TIGARAH 11:00 The Viper Room
Walking around West Hollywood prior to the event last night, I had seen a cute Asian girl decked out in the latest and brightest fashions. Being a fellow Asian, myself, I sometimes am disgusted with how simple I dress. I made a note to myself to be more fashionable. Well, it turns out this high-fashioned Asian girl was actually the closing act for the night. Tigarah is her name and don’t you forget it, because she’s a “starah.” Hailing all the way from Tokyo, Japan, this petite girl dressed in a green jumper with a white t-shirt just covering a pink metallic bathing suit top was just about the cutest thing that’s graced the Viper Room stage. With her teased curly hair, just barely covering her huge pink earrings, she took off her yellow jacket after the first song and revealed this tiny figure that was standing in black floral print tights and high heeled wedges that matched. Having her emcee and drummer build up an intro for her, she did not walk onto the stage with a shyness most Asian girls are known for. Instead, she exuded so much confidence and sass through her spoken word and dance moves, I’m pretty sure every guy in the room was instantly in love with her. In fact, I know they were. Guys were whispering like little girls as they pointed and bopped their heads to her beats and lyrics. Spoken word, rapping, what? Yes, everyone. This little girl from Tokyo has got some mad game. She’s releasing an EP back in Tokyo this summer, but she’ll also be back in LA soon to hit the US with her love for mad Brazilian/Japanese beats all sung and rapped in three languages.
My three favorite acts of the night? Easy: 1) Dead Letter Circus 2) Purple Melon 3) Tigarah
What are yours? I will be back tomorrow with coverage of tonight’s showcase. STAY TUNED!
***LIVE PHOTO GALLERY COMING SOON!!!!
To get more info, you can go to the official MUSEXPO website.