Last night was the annual Indie 103.1 holiday show – “Wreck the Halls,” with Black Kids, Bloc Party, The Pretenders and CSS – held at the new Club Nokia in downtown L.A. This was the first time I had been to Club Nokia – very nice (esp. air conditioning!) – it was smaller than I expected, but that contributed to the intimacy.
The show was supposed to have The Pretenders as the headliners, but they put them on third instead of fourth, seemingly to ensure that most of the audience was going to stay. It was probably a smart move, since a majority of the people in attendance were there to see Bloc Party and CSS.
We got there nice and early – about an hour before Black Kids went on – and consequently we were about one to two people away from the front. The crowd was interesting, mostly young people but also a lot of older Pretenders fans. There was also a group of three girls sporting mustaches, in an apparent homage to bassist Adriano Cintra from CSS.
Black Kids kicked off the show and played most everything off of their debut album, Partie Traumatic, including their radio hits “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” and “Hurricane Jane.” The band was infectiously energetic (as they should be for five young Florida kids!), and they really sound great live. I’m 99% positive we were standing next to the parents of Reggie and Ali Youngblood for most of the night.
Next was Bloc Party, who I was happy to hear played a lot of material from not only their most recent album Intimacy, but also from their first (and my favorite), Silent Alarm. I had read that bassist Gordon Moakes had taken a break from the band during their summer tour after his wife gave birth to their first child, but he was there last night. Drummer Matt Tong (who, although he began fully clothed, ended up in just some board shorts and aqua-colored hi-top Converse) threw his drumsticks into the audience at the end of their set, very nearly hitting me in the head.
As we were waiting for The Pretenders to take the stage, there was quite a bit of drama going on to our right. An older woman (probable Pretenders fan) had forced her way to the front, taking the spot of a girl who had been there since the doors opened. When the girl tried to reclaim her spot, the woman started shoving her and yelling at her. When it seemed that the girl had had enough, she LOUDLY insulted her back, mostly with expletives, but also with a priceless line about her being a “monkey-looking sea hag.” Anyway, a security guy came and escorted the old woman out and she started crying, but not before completely screaming in his face too. Many people applauded as she was taken out. You have to love live shows.
After that, The Pretenders began with a few songs off of their new album, Break Up the Concrete, but mainly they kept the crowd happy with their classics like “Back on the Chain Gang” and “Brass in Pocket.” I remember an interview with Chrissie Hynde where she said she truly hates the song “Brass in Pocket,” but she’ll always perform it because the fans like it so much. Well, if she really does hate it as much as she says, it didn’t show in her performance.
Closing the show was the much-anticipated CSS. The girls with the mustaches started chanting “CSS sucks” before they took the stage, much to the horror of a couple of girls standing next to us. They must not have heard CSS’ first album, or at least not the first track indeed called “CSS Suxxx.” We heard one of the girls say, “Oh my god, for a minute there I thought they were saying ‘CSS sucks!’” Oh well, they were totally moded.
Although quite a few of the older audience members left after The Pretenders ended, everyone left in the crowd was really into CSS’ performance that it didn’t really make difference. Lead singer Luísa Hanaê Matsushita, who goes by the stage name Lovefoxxx, came out in a full African-print bodysuit, orange long-haired wig and a feathered headdress. It wasn’t until I saw guitarist Luiza Sá on stage that I realized we had seen her walking away from the venue (looking a bit confused) as we were walking to it before the concert started.
CSS performed quite a few songs off their new album Donkey, namely “Jager Yoga,” “Rat is Dead,” and “Let’s Reggae All Night.” They also played the “best of” their self-titled album Cansei de Ser Sexy, with “Meeting Paris Hilton,” “Off the Hook,” “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above,” and closed the show with a totally intense version of “Alala,” my personal favorite. Lovefoxxx did give props to the mustache girls, too. I don’t think anyone could have complained about a single part of their set.
As a whole, the show was really great – though I did hear some complaints that The Pretenders shouldn’t have been put together with everyone else, which I can see, since their appeal isn’t quite the same as everyone else’s. But in any case all of the bands individually would have put on great shows and it was just an added bonus that they were all together.