When I walked into Le Ritz a little past 9:30, Moving Units was already on stage. I was a little confused as to why the headliner was performing first. Turns out they were not really performing. THEY WERE DOING SOUNDCHECK. At 9:30! The band roughly explained on stage why they were so late, but I couldn’t make out what Blake Miller was saying. It was nice of them to explain at least.
At 10 PM, finally, I was happy. L.A.’s Soviet was AMAZING. Inspired by Talk Talk, Brian Eno, and The Cars, Soviet has clearly been a personal fave of mine for a while. He played tracks like “Onto Something” and “Overrated” from his latest record Ghosts. The crowd ate it up. I just wish the two tallest people in the room didn’t decide to stand in front of the stage for the entire set. While the sound checks seemed stressful, the sound was pretty damn good. Keith Ruggiero’s vocals were crisp and clear.
After a very quick transfer over, we had Viktor Fiction on stage. I gave him a listen a few times before the show and he is totally in my realm. He dressed the part with 80s sunglasses, and moved around on stage like he was a one man DEVO. Not the most original, but if you dig New Order, or Echo and the Bunnymen, you will enjoy this dude. He was backed up by a great band – his drummer was wild, and Keith Ruggiero of Soviet helped him on synths. He performed his only track available on YouTube “Love and Addiction” off of Selected Transmissions as well as many others. Make more YouTube videos, Viktor!
The night was going pretty smoothly at this point. However my blood began to start boiling when the next act, co-headliner, Venus began setting up. I was beginning to wonder if there was a stage manager. I am a huge fan of promoter, Blue Skies Turn Black and I have not had many unsettling experiences with organization or timing with their shows but…where were you stage manager? That said, the band took nearly twenty minutes to set up.
I will quote Henry Rollins right now:
“Listen to the stage manager and get on stage when they tell you to. No one has time for your rock star bullshit. None of the techs backstage care if you’re David Bowie or the milkman.”
From the looks of things there was no stage manager, so I can understand why things were a bit of a mess. But had their been one – this band could maybe be guided on professionalism and quicker, more efficient set up. When they began performing, it was like watching a band play their first show. Maybe it was? They were a little disoriented, tried way too hard to “be different,” and did not feed off the crowd, except when one person yelled something inappropriate to them and the guitarist (who I do not know the name of because it does not state anywhere online who does what in the band), kindly asked this person not to be disrespectful. Guys – when someone yells things, or if the crowd is not digging you – leave it. Just keep going. Never show weakness. Keep working at what you’re doing.
As far as their sound goes, it made no sense. I can see where they’re going with it, but it ended up sounding like cheesy elevator music twisted with a chick who has an incredible voice who should be fronting an entirely different genre. I can hear her working better with a folk band or even a stoner rock band. I loved this woman’s voice. Their keys girl had a better-suited voice for the sound they were going for. When she sang I asked myself WHY she wasn’t singing the entire way through. Now, if I were to compare this band to anyone, the closest thing I can think of would be hints of Angelo Badalementi (Twin Peaks) with Julee Cruise vocals. They have that soft mesmerizing sound, with a touch of 80s retro. If you are curious and want to listen, click here. What concerns me is WHY these guys were co-headlining. Soviet and Viktor Fiction have a bigger following, they were much more professional on stage, and clearly have way more experience. Connections? Who knows. But if I were them, I would have not taken this gig til they were more ready for it.
Last but not least, it was hitting midnight and Moving Units were set to play at this time. I am a little torn. I bought their Joy Division cover record, and their bassist Mike Delgado was so nice and seemed appreciative of it, but then these guys were taking their sweet time getting ready to perform. So not only were they late, they were hanging around the bar and chilling when it was their time to hit the stage. Primadonnas? Or genuine humility? I couldn’t decide. That said, they played every song off their cover album, including “Disorder” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and they made up for it.
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by Gabii H-Blanco
*edited by Kate Erickson