By Oscar Medina
Autolux, a rock trio from Los Angeles whose meteoric rise in the music community has been an oddly puzzling one, played to a sold out crowd at The Independent on Thursday. Autolux started as a couple friends who holed up in their rehearsal space, record an EP of fuzzy shoegaze pop that harkens back to '90's' bands like Ride and Sonic Youth, get notice from famous producer T- Bone Burnett and record an album to critical acclaim. It's been over three years since Autolux released Future Perfect, an album that in spite of its overtly retro underpinnings and not immediately noticeable qualities, compel everyone from NIN to The White Stripes to ask them on tour. The sold out show at The Independent implied that many in attendance on Thursday were anticipating new material, and on this Autolux delivered last night. Diminishing returns ? Maybe.
Autolux came out on stage, and delivered a set that was largely taken from their Future Perfect record with five new songs from their next record slated for this year. The one thing that you cannot pass over in talking about Autolux live is female drummer Carla Azar. First off, she is one very hot lady who can wear a low slung silver dress, sing and simultaneously out play any of your favorite rock drummers. Her presence is an obvious asset to the band, not just because she is a girl who can play drums, but because she plays the drums with the graceful precision of a veteran.
The interplay of vocal harmonies between the different members added a nice touch to a band that is very much focused on the instrumental qualities of their sound. The fuzzy rumbling bass lines of Eugene Goreshter and the feedback drone of Greg Edwards combined, are much louder than one would think from a three piece. They played many crowd favorites, including "Here Comes Everybody", "Turnstile Blues" and "Sub- Zero Fun" but it was the new tracks that everyone was excited to hear. They played five new songs that to my ears sounded much like their old material, but was more vocal driven and relied less on the more experimental aspects of their work. It was a competent set that rocked in all the right places, but there was no encore, which did make you leave feeling something was amiss.
Local psych rockers Wooden Shjips who have received some recent notice over their self titled record and some obscure 7's flying around the record sphere, treated the crowd to an infectious kraut- psych assault that threatened to knock out eardrums. The band's set up was a basic one; bass/drums/keys/guitars, but there was nothing basic about how they used their instruments. Drummer Omar Ahsanuddin and bassist Dusty Jermier would lock into a motorik groove that teetered on the edges while guitarist Ripley Johnson and organist Nash Whalen added splashes of paint onto the sonic palette. The band looked the part of the music; long shaggy hair, beards, old boots and '60's' attire that made them look like they walked out of a desert after a vision quest. Much of their set was instrumental and jam-oriented, this can play itself both ways in two different types of people. Speaking with local band The Cemetery Party one of the members called out their set as "too jammy" while the other member in the band said " I really like what they are doing with the long form groove". The Wooden Shjips live are trying to recreate to a certain degree the experimental sets of The Velvet Underground and they succeeded much of the time. However, their set did have some missteps, especially at the beginning and at the end of their set, where there was a certain lull on the part of the players and it felt like they were playing by numbers.
Overall, in spite of both bands competent to even above average sets, they could not convince the crowd to move very much. Rock shows are not operas but from the crowd's response I might as well have been watching Don Giovanni. Which goes to show that music alone does not make for a compelling performance.