Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Great Night Of Music at The Hi Hat, 11-4-16

I See Hawks In L.A. performing "Duty To Our Pod"
The Hi Hat is a relatively new music venue in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles, located just a few doors down from what used to be The Peak Show Compound, where I spent some of the best nights of my life. It has plenty of space, a nice large stage toward the back, and a couple of pool tables in the front. The beer is not overpriced, and the staff is friendly. The bartender told me the venue opened in January, so it is still in its first year. The most important thing, however, is that the sound is good. It’s not too loud, and it’s clear enough that you can make out the song lyrics without trouble. And from what I’ve been told by the musicians, the sound is also excellent on the stage. All of this makes for a great experience.

Last night John Isaac Watters continued his residency at The Hi Hat, with an excellent lineup of bands sharing the bill with him. Uncles kicked off the night at 9 o’clock. Oh, that’s another thing I should mention. Uncles were scheduled to go on at 9, and right at 9 they went on. This is something I appreciate more and more as I get older. Who wants to stand around for an hour waiting for the music to start? “And we’re Uncles,” the band said by way of introduction, and they started their good set of energetic rock and pop tunes. In one of their first few songs they sang, “I dream I’m pulling out my teeth,” a line that stood out, a recurring image in nightmares. I really enjoyed this band’s set, and I definitely want to see them perform again. Jacob Metcalf, a singer/songwriter from Dallas, followed Uncles at 9:45 p.m. with a solo acoustic set of mostly original material, including “Sarah Sells Shoes” and “Traffic” (though he also did Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” introducing it by saying, “Here’s a little Patsy Cline for you”).

John Isaac Watters started his set at 10:36 p.m. (only six minutes later than scheduled), for the first song accompanied by just keys and female backing vocals. “This was the first song I wrote, I think,” he said, and then began “Beauty Came,” a gorgeous song. “Beauty came into my life, but vanished as the sun went down/Had some other place to be/On the other side of town.” “Now we’re going to have a full band situation,” he said, and was joined by musicians on bass, pedal steel and drums, and they went into “Your New House.” The lines that stood out for me were, “I'll tell you softly, I got no reason/To love you like this.” My favorite song from his set, however, was “Are You Nervous Now,” a fantastic song with a great build and some unusual lyrics. Check out these lines: “The cannibal came easy/You weren’t really eating anyone else/You just decided to let them eat yourself.” And this line: “Do you only hear a train wreck when listening alone?” This was the first time I’d heard John Isaac Watters, and I was impressed by his songwriting – his powerful, poetic lyrics. I was also taken by his stage presence; he struck me as a weird, potent cross between Morrissey and Donovan. His set ended at 11:31 p.m.

I See Hawks In L.A. was the one band of the night that I’d seen before, and was the one that I’d come out specifically to see last night. These guys are great, and if you haven’t yet seen them in concert, I highly recommend doing so. They took the stage at 11:46 p.m. and got right into the music, starting their set with “Turn The Airplane Around,” a song from the band’s self-titled debut album, and right away giving the audience that delicious blending of vocals. Rob Waller then mentioned that it was great to play in the neighborhood. “We just kind of rolled down the hill.” After “Ever Since The Grid Went Down,” Rob said, “It’s going down, folks, it’s going down soon.” Then Paul Marshall took over lead vocals on a good country tune. In introducing “Stop Driving Like An Asshole,” Rob said he’d had sort of a rough day, that he’d gotten into a car accident on the 110 during rush hour. “It wasn’t my fault,” he assured the crowd. I thought that was just a funny way of leading into that particular song, but after the show, Rob confirmed that indeed he was in a car accident. That song is a crowd-pleaser, as you might guess, and after it Rob told the audience, “That made me feel so much better.” Paul Lacques, as always, provided some great stuff on lead guitar. He was especially impressive during “Duty To Our Pod,” his guitar work getting appreciative shouts from the crowd. They concluded their set with a fantastic rendition of David Bowie’s “Five Years.” The show ended at 12:31 a.m.

I See Hawks In L.A. Set List
  1. Turn That Airplane Around
  2. Hope Against Hope
  3. White Cross
  4. Ever Since The Grid Went Down
  5. Truth Is You Lied
  6. Stop Driving Like An Asshole
  7. Harvest
  8. Duty To Our Pod
  9. Five Years
Here are some photos from the show:

Jacob Metcalf
John Isaac Watters performing "Beauty Came"
"Your New House"
John Isaac Watters
"Are You Nervous Now?"
I See Hawks In L.A. performing "Turn The Airplane Around"
Victoria Jacobs
Paul Marshall
"Stop Driving Like An Asshole"
"Duty To Our Pod"
 The Hi Hat is located at 5043 York Blvd., Los Angeles.

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