Words and photos by Tobi Lynn. Thanks to Victor and Patrick for the connect!
Tobi is the former host of The Afterschool Special on XMU in DC and the current host of an indie music show that airs M-F from 1 pm to 5 pm EDT on New NormalMusic in LA. Listen to her show here: www.newnormalmusic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @tobitalks.
Email subject line: “Yo!” Email body: “You interested in covering the Mark Ronson/Miike Snow show in LA for a DC music website?” My response: “Um, YES!!!”
That’s how this radio DJ found herself in the midst of her first legit foray into the world of blogging. My name is Tobi and while indie music is my life, I’m accustomed to using a microphone to discuss my likes and dislikes, so I was admittedly a little nervous to enter the blogosphere, which has always seemed a little bit like a secret club on the interweb to me. But I embraced the challenge, grabbed my moleskine and digital camera and headed to the beautifully historic Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.
It was a Friday night, so the crowd was definitely ready for some music mayhem, and that’s exactly what they got when Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. took the stage. It was like an explosion of red, white and black 80’s inspired awesomeness! Mark Ronson sported a bleach blonde coiffure and his electric blue tie added a splash of “pop” color, while the rest of the Business Intl. wore dapper gray suits.
The band covered Radiohead’s “Just” for their second song and thanks to the vocal stylings of Alex Greenwald from Phantom Planet, it was a crowd pleaser. The party really kicked into high gear when Spank Rock (subbing in for Q-Tip) started dancing and flirting his way across the stage between female vocalists MNDR and Rose Elinor Dougall. The chemistry between the members of the Business Intl. was infectious and SO.MUCH.FUN!
The real highlight for me was experiencing “Bang Bang Bang” in a live setting. I loved this song before the show, but seeing it up close and personal was nothing short of spectacular! And now I will officially go on the record to say that Amanda Warner (aka ½ of MNDR) is a BADASS and I totally want to be her best friend. She has a powerful stage presence that is absolutely mesmerizing.
The love fest continued with the song “Stop Me” from the album “Version.” At this point, I have to briefly digress and say that I am one of biggest fans of The Smiths (ever) and under no circumstance do I like to hear their music being covered. Well, I guess the adorable moppy haired Greenwald is the exception, because the sincerity of his rendition convinced me to temporarily suspend my “rule” – at least for one night.
For the song “Valerie,” also from the album “Version,” Mark brought out Marsha Ambrosius to sing Amy Winehouse’s part. He described her as one of his “favorite fucking singers” and she definitely delivered the goods! This song was one of the few times during the night that Mark came out from behind his wall of keyboards and drum pads to dance front and center whilst jumping around and playing guitar. It ruled.
The set closed with all the fun and frolic that is “The Bike Song.” Spank Rock skipped around on stage and playfully brought this song to life with the help of the dreamy Greenwald. I have to say that I have never wanted to go green more than while Greenwald chanted “ride my bike” over an over. (*insert teenage-girlie-crush here!)
The main event was Miike Snow and I love his self-titled album, so I was excited. My enthusiasm started to wane, however, because of a lengthy wait for them to take the stage and the amount of smoke being pumped into the theatre. It felt like the fog machine was going to asphyxiate us all before we could enjoy the electronic goodness. But alas, through the darkness and smoke, several masked men finally took the stage. It all had a very creepy “Man In The Iron Mask” vibe, but it added to the mystique of the literal “smoke and mirrors” stage set up.
Lead singer Andrew Wyatt played to the crowd sans shoes and was fairly chatty in between songs, explaining that this would be the band’s last show for a while. He then thanked the LA crowd and said it had been a “great ride from their first show at Spaceland to the Wiltern.”
Stand out tracks were “Black & Blue,” “Plastic Jungle” (who’s intro bared a striking resemblance to Goldfrapp’s “Strict Machine” in a live setting, just sayin’) and “Sylvia.”
Overall, the show felt very futuristic in a Daft Punk, Tron: Legacy kind of way, Wyatt hit every high note perfectly and with each menacing puff from the fog machine the crowd fell deeper into a trance – swaying with anticipation of hearing the big “hit” song “Animal.” I mean, the bar was even selling a Red Bull and Vodka drink called the “Animal,” for crying out loud. People wanted to hear THAT song!
But then it happened. About 40 minutes into their set, the power unexpectedly went out and the show was put on hold. Wyatt apologized and assured the crowd that the “best minds were working on the problem.” Nearly 30 minutes after that, the tinkering continued, as the crowd grew restless. Wyatt returned to the stage saying that “this is like when you really like someone and the night comes when you’re gonna make love and you don’t have a condom.” He then thanked everyone for “hanging out” and walked back off stage.
Finally, the band returned and played two songs, one of which was NOT “Animal” and one of which was a cover of MGMT’s “Kids.” For what it’s worth, the latter cover version was pretty awesome. But as fast as they arrived, they were once again gone and although their stage was clad with antlers, still no “Animal” was delivered. The house lights then came on and everyone stood around looking at each other in confusion. When it was clear that the set was truly over, the crowd erupted into “boo’s” and people begrudgingly started leaving in disappointment. As I walked out of the theatre, I saw a girl waving her middle finger in the general direction of the stage and overheard people saying things like, “I’m pissed,” “what a BS ending” and “shit got real awkward at the end.”
While I agree that shit DID get real awkward at the end, I also thought it was unfortunate that technical difficulties and the omission of their “hit” song tainted an otherwise great set of electronic music. So in an attempt to leave things on a positive note, I’ll borrow lyrics from my current favorite jam, “Bang Bang Bang” and say, “When feathers fly, you deny everything, yo!”