Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I See Hawks In L.A. at The Hi Hat, 2-21-17 Concert Review

I See Hawks In L.A. performing "Don't Bury Me"
Every morning I tell myself not to read the news, not to respond to any of Donald Trump’s bullshit. But every day I do. But then every evening I make it up to myself by listening to some excellent music. Last night I caught I See Hawks In L.A. at The Hi Hat in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles, and they put on a great show, certainly turning things around for me after a day of engaging Trump supporters in pointless debates. This was the third night of the band’s residency. Each show has a theme. Last week they played on Valentine’s Day, and the theme was love and loneliness. Last night it was geography and death.

I See Hawks In L.A. actually took the stage a couple of minutes early, at 9:58 p.m., after a good opening set by Steps Of Doe. They kicked off the show with “Turn That Airplane Around,” a tune from the band’s self-titled debut album. It was after that first song that Rob Waller announced: “This is our third night of the residency. We had drugs and drug problems on week number one. I know some of you were here for that. We had love and loneliness last week for Valentine’s Day. Those are kind of two sides of the same coin. Tonight it’s geography and death. So, congratulations, you’re here for geography and death. Here we go.” And the band went into the title track from the Grapevine album, which sounded so sweet. I love the harmonies. “I’m feeling fine, but I lose my mind every time I stay.”

After that tune, Rob Waller said: “I feel like we wrote that when I’d only lived in Los Angeles for like four or five years, and it still seemed like I could leave Los Angeles. Now, whatever, ten years after that, twelve years after that, it’s like I don’t think I could ever. Even if I leave, I won’t actually leave Los Angeles, I don’t think. I’ve been here too long. Watch out, it’s what happens.” I know exactly what he means. I’ve been here a hell of a long time at this point myself, and I don’t think I could leave. Los Angeles will do that to you. Maybe other places have that effect too, I don’t know. I tend to doubt Oklahoma, for example, would. And I See Hawks In L.A. then played “Oklahoma’s Going Dry,” the lead-off track from the band’s 2013 release, Mystery Drug. Paul Lacques delivered some great stuff on guitar.

Rob introduced “Mary Austin Sky” by saying, “From one desert to another.” “Mary Austin Sky” is a pretty song from New Kind Of Lonely, which was released in 2012. “That’s a song about our favorite desert landscape painter, Mary-Austin Klein,” Rob mentioned afterward. “Lots of the lyrics are titles of her paintings.” They followed that with a very fun rendition of “Houston Romance,” a song from California Country. Rob called out a couple that had their first date at an I See Hawks In L.A. show at Cole’s in downtown Los Angeles and last night were celebrating their eighth anniversary. Pretty cool.

This band has a lot of great songs, but if I were forced to pick a favorite, it would probably be “If You Lead I Will Follow,” the final track from New Kind Of Lonely (though “Highway Down” might be a very close second). It’s a beautiful song written by Rob Waller and Paul Marshall, and last night they did an excellent rendition of it. So beautiful, so moving, it was for me the highlight of the night. It completely made my day. Then, in introducing “Bohemian Highway,” which is actually the first track from New Kind Of Lonely, Paul Lacques said it was a geography song, “The geography of where a man died.” They followed that with “California Country,” and then “The Spirit Of Death,” another song from New Kind Of Lonely. The lines I always love from that song are, “If you visit my grave, you won't be alone/I'll be dancing on my own gravestone/Bring your pretty women, bring your fruit of the vine/A whole lot of laughing and a little bit of crying.”

Before the final song of the set, Rob Waller announced next week’s theme: “Next week: apocalypse. We’re not kidding around. We have, I think, enough songs for a whole set of apocalyptic songs, somehow.” A woman in the audience then yelled out something about Trump, the idea of the apocalypse inspiring her, I guess. “Fuck him, he’s ruining our country,” she said. Rob said, “That’s right,” and then Paul Lacques responded, “That’s a long discussion, ma’am.” She kept shouting stuff, until the band launched into “Don’t Bury Me,” a fun song to end the set. The show ended at 10:48 p.m.

Set List
  1. Turn That Airplane Around
  2. Grapevine
  3. Oklahoma’s Going Dry
  4. Mary Austin Sky
  5. Houston Romance
  6. If You Lead I Will Follow
  7. Bohemian Highway
  8. California Country
  9. The Spirit Of Death
  10. Don’t Bury Me
 Here are a few photos from the show:

"Turn That Airplane Around"
"Turn That Airplane Around"
"Oklahoma's Going Dry"
"Mary Austin Sky"
"Bohemian Highway"
"California Country"
As I left the venue, stepping out into the night, a guy outside shouted, “It’s been real.” I love that because it implied that just maybe it was no longer real. The Hi Hat is located at 5043 York Blvd. in Los Angeles.

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