Monday, May 28, 2018

We Are The West at 701 Santa Monica Blvd., 5-26-18 Concert Review

We Are The West
I was turned onto We Are The West only recently, with the release of the band’s new full-length album, The Golden Shore. But these guys have been making excellent and interesting music for several years, releasing several EPs and putting on a series of concerts at a parking garage in Santa Monica. That is where I saw the band Saturday night. Apparently, they’ve been doing this for six years, every month on the Saturday before the full moon. And if you’re thinking that a concert in a parking garage doesn’t sound all that appealing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. These guys do the place up right, making it feel cozy and warm. There were carpets on the floor where the band performed, and lights. Artwork was hung on the walls. There was even a DJ spinning records before the band went on. And chairs were set up for everyone, helping to give the place a relaxed vibe. And though the crowd was fairly young (I might have been the oldest person in the place), they were all respectful and mellow.

Opening for the band on Saturday was Little Wings, the project of Kyle Field. As he started his set, Kyle called the place a living room. And yes, surprisingly, it had that vibe. I really enjoyed Little Wings’ set. Kyle went in some directions vocally, sort of in the way that Martin Sexton does. Some of his songs were truly pretty, with lyrics that you could connect to. “What can I say about paradise that everybody doesn’t know?” he asked in one song. His set ended at 9:40 p.m.

At 10:07 p.m., We Are The West took the stage, and John immediately quieted the crowd by making some soft, delicate sounds on his bass using the bow – like the creaking of a wooden ship. It was kind of a fascinating way to start the show, mesmerizing and haunting. This was “Siren,” the opening track from the band’s new album. They followed that with “Cauliflower Ears,” from one of the band’s EPs. The crowd was completely silent, attentive. I became a fan of We Are The West’s music when I first heard the new album, but at this show I completely fell in love with this band. Paul and Jason then joined them on piano and drums respectively as they eased into “The Golden Shore.” This song was gorgeous and exciting, music you can wrap yourself in and float away. Paul then switched to the keyboard for “The Hammer.”

Before I saw We Are The West perform, I had wondered how the music from the new album would translate into a live setting. And if I had to guess one song that they wouldn’t even attempt to do in concert, it would have been “More Machine Than Man.” But these guys are adventurous and undaunted, and they followed “The Hammer” with that very song. It was a completely captivating performance. Paul then stepped away for “Hold On,” a sweet and pretty song featured on another of the band’s EPs. Brett introduced “For Me, For You” as a “feel-good number.” (I think I said something similar about the song in my review of the album.) That was followed by “Sea Of Light (Dirty Ditty)” and then “Crops,” both also from The Golden Shore. Paul did some particularly nice stuff on piano during “Crops.”

Brett then announced they were going to play a song that Jason had never heard before. And they started “Don’t Worry About It, Michael,” singing the beginning a cappella. They followed that with “The Watchers,” and then concluded the set with “Good Luck (And All That Stuff),” which had such a delightfully cheerful sound and lifted my spirits tremendously. The audience called for an encore, and Brett said, “Let’s go into the dark.” And indeed, the band led the audience into the dark area of the parking garage for the encore. They performed “From The Bower” unmiked and in the dark, the audience gathered in a semi-circle in front of them. And it was perfect. Honestly, I live for these moments. It was a beautiful ending to an incredible night.

Set List
  1. Siren
  2. Cauliflower Ears
  3. The Golden Shore
  4. The Hammer
  5. More Machine Than Man
  6. Hold On
  7. For Me, For You
  8. Sea Of Light (Dirty Ditty)
  9. Crops
  10. Don’t Worry About It, Michael
  11. The Watchers
  12. Good Luck (And All That Stuff)
  1. From The Bower
Here are a few photos from the night:

Little Wings
Little Wings
We Are The West
We Are The West

The garage is located at 701 Santa Monica Blvd., in Santa Monica, California.

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