Monday, July 29, 2019

Princess Frank and Sunset Junction Band at The Thirsty Crow, 7-28-19 Concert Review

Princess Frank
Yesterday was a day of excellent music. I started my day at The Federal Bar, where I saw Freedy Johnston and Amilia K. Spicer. Then I made my way down to Silver Lake, to The Thirsty Crow, where Princess Frank holds his residency. Sharing the bill with him was Sunset Junction Band, which features Leslie Knauer on lead vocals and guitar. Parking is always a bit challenging in that area, and I ended up farther away than usual. It was a scorcher of a day, so I was soaked with sweat by the time I arrived at the venue. As I walked in, I suddenly recalled that this place has no air conditioning. No matter. There were fans, including one box fan pointed at the band. No one there seemed to mind the heat. And there were misters just outside the door, so you could step out for a moment and cool off. I got a beer (friendly staff there, by the way), and said hello to some people I hadn’t seen in years. Clearly there was some kind of sale on hair dye somewhere nearby, with green and purple being the colors of choice. Wonderful! Those are my favorite colors.

You might know Leslie Knauer from her work in Precious Metal and Kanary. Kanary was how I got turned onto her music. That was the second band I saw after moving to Los Angeles (the first was Kelly’s Lot) more than twenty years ago (holy shit, time is flying). Sunset Junction Band, like Kanary, is a trio (though it wasn’t always). Guitar, bass, drums. The bass is stand-up acoustic, which made me happy. At 4:42 p.m., Leslie called out, “Yes, we’re ready.” She mentioned how the name of the band had changed (they used to be called Naked Hand Dance), but that she was a bit leery of the new name. “It sounds like it could be successful,” she explained. They kicked off their set with a cool cover of The Mavericks’ “Come Unto Me.” That was followed by a somewhat new song, a fun and playful tune that had something of a Bo Diddley rhythm, with drummer Dave Alvarado providing the beat. Sunset Junction Band also did a nice rendition of John Prine’s delightful “In Spite Of Ourselves,” a surprise, with bassist Al TeMan singing the second vocal part. The strangest choice of covers was Klaus Nomi’s “Total Eclipse,” which was a whole lot of fun. A good chunk of the set, however, was made up of songs from the Kanary days, including “Do You Swear,” which featured a powerful vocal performance. Would you expect anything less from Leslie Knauer? “Can’t Stop Crying” is one of my favorite songs from the Kanary days, and it was so good to hear it again. “Something Beautiful” is another of my favorite Kanary songs, one I put on a couple of mix CDs. The version they played yesterday was quite a bit different from those earlier versions, particularly on drums. But I was digging it. After that one, Leslie said: “I love my band. They follow me wherever I go.” They wrapped up their set with “Don’t Be Scared.” Their set ended at 5:28 p.m.

A break between bands gave me a moment to get another beer, and catch up a bit with folks. And then at 6:01 p.m., Princess Frank shouted “Happy Sunday!” Indeed, it was. If you live in Los Angeles, you’ve likely seen Princess Frank at some point. I first met him back in the days of Heartkour, Holland Greco’s project following the end of The Peak Show. For a while now, Princess Frank has been doing a one-man rock band gig. His set yesterday consisted of several original tunes, with a bluesy rock edge and some excellent and often wild vocal work. He also delivered some good covers, including a seriously cool version of “Helter Skelter” that felt at first like a deconstruction of the song, then a rebuilding of it, with only the necessary elements, delivered with passion, unleashed in an exciting way. He also covered The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling,” as well as The Doors’ “Love Me Two Times” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” He concluded his set with a cover of the Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare,” getting some help on vocals from a guy sporting a Misfits T-shirt. Princess Frank joked a few times during his set that every Sunday he is there to harass people, so show up next week for the best harassment you’ll ever experience.

Here are a few photos from the show:

Sunset Junction Band performing "Come Unto Me"
"Forgive Me"
"Forgive Me"
"Don't Be Scared"
Princess Frank
Princess Frank
Princess Frank performing "Where Eagles Dare"

The Thirsty Crow is located at 2939 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, California.

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