LIVE REVIEW: Crystal Antlers + The Lovely Bad Things @ Bootleg Bar 2/7/14
Long Beach natives Crystal Antlers played to a full house at the Bootleg Bar last Friday. The event was intended to be a record release show in celebration of their third album Nothing Is Real. The album was released on the talent-filled label Innovative Leisure (home of Rhye, Hanni El Khatib, Tijuana Panthers, and more) this past October.
La Mirada’s The Lovely Bad Things took full advantage of the large crowd in attendance by playing fiercely energetic punk rock jams. The quartet switched instruments in between songs and tore through an animated set, momentarily evoking a small mosh pit during one song. The small bar filled up as many attempted for a better view and others watched in anticipation as Crystal Antlers set up. The room silenced as the the DJ’s music begin to fade. The crowd respectfully kept their complete attention on the band, keeping conversations to a minimum. The environment almost felt as if we were awaiting for an orchestra to perform a symphony.
Despite all the band lineup changes, Crystal Antlers have endured in their short time as a band. The core trio of Jonny Bell (bass/vocals), Andrew King (guitar), and Kevin Stuart (drums), stuck it out together and it proved to pay off. The proof being in their growth as song writers and their confidence to show little restraint to jam out during their set. The band was joined on stage Friday evening by long time touring member J.P. Bendzinski on organ and London Guzman on saxophone (both of whom play in the awesome band Wild Pack Of Canaries).
Starting their set with “Pray,” the opening track off their most recent release, was a perfect way to begin with its long lullaby-like intro, suddenly bursting into fast paced thumping drums, accompanied by King’s epic guitar riffs, crafting an endless wall of sound. Stuart played with an intensely concentrated fury, a relentless pace that he maintained throughout the whole set. One could only be left to imagine a beaten and battered drum set is what would be loaded into their tour van later that night.
Bell’s voice has continually grown over the course of each album, putting his range on full display this evening. He was able to show the control he now possesses to switch from singing to his signature shouting of lyrics. Guzman added a very jazzy sounding sax solo at the conclusion of the opening song, which Bell acknowledged by introducing Guzman. The group then ensued their set with “Painless Sleep” and “Dust”, in which Bendzinski continued playing a looming organ sound to lead into “A Thousand Eyes”. By this time, the band was in its most comfortable form, letting the songs drift to very high peaks with every member playing to their highest ability, as if they were squaring off against each other. Bell then thanked their openers, adding “Lovely Bad Things, I love you. De Lux, I want to be in your band.”
In between new songs “Licorice Pizza,” “Wrong Side,” and “We’re All Gonna Die,” Bell announced that the band had about 100 t-shirts that they were giving away. Closing the evening with “Prisoner Song,” the band had no need for an encore, as they had left it all on stage. It was an unforgettable night of psychedelic punk rock perfection and to see the sheer brilliance of friends playing their hearts out and enjoying every second of it, was the best part.
Check out a full gallery of Crystal Antlers and The Lovely Bad things tearing up the Bootleg Bar HERE!