Check Yo Ponytail 2 | The Audio Perv
Posts Tagged ‘Check Yo Ponytail 2’
12 Oct

By Ace Ubas

For Check Yo Ponytail 2’s latest show on Tuesday night at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, they brought together acts ranging from darkwave (Cold Showers) and psychedelic rock (Violens) to ear-blistering (or damaging) shoegaze garage rock (headliners DIIV). While the show itself didn’t draw a crowd big enough to meet Echoplex standards, the only thing that mattered was that the acts put on a show good enough for the crowd to enjoy with each playing a diverse style of music.

It was difficult to get into the Los Angeles-based band Cold Showers because initially, they sound like another chip off the old Joy Division block. It’s hard for bands to play in the vein of the gothic post-punk/synth-wave style without sounding like a bad rip-off of the forefathers. But with a keen focus on their performance, the band (which features highly impressive drummer Jessie Clavin of Bleached/ex-Mika Miko fame) actually stands out on their own. Yes, the influences are blatantly obvious, but they manage to put their own spin to it. Their sweeping guitar melodies are reminiscent of Twin Shadow’s retro take of the 80s, playfully intertwining with the stout rhythm section. Clavin’s tight drumming held the songs together and gave them a stronger pop while Jonathan Weinberg’s impressive baritone borders between Editors’ Tom Smith, Cold Cave’s Wes Eisold and the late Ian Curtis (albeit loosely) – and that’s saying something. Cold Showers put on solid performance that warrants their upcoming debut Love and Regret a listen.

New York’s Violens took the stage after and brought their psychedelic pop to the forefront. While their album True was a bit underwhelming, their live set proved to be otherwise. As expected, their set was carried by the dueling guitars of Jorge Elbrecht and Myles Matheny who seemed to feed off each other after every song. Their guitars harmonized really well and didn’t drown out one another. There were moments on multiple songs where they harmonized the lyrics by singing different lines at the same time. While at times it would emphasize the jangled, reverb-heavy guitar work, it mostly came off as muddied and inaudible that got drowned out in the mix. The highlights came during songs “Totally True” and “When to Let Go,” exemplifying the band at their best: early 80s dream-pop with distinguishable guitars and infectious melodies ala Lush.

By the time New York City’s DIIV took the stage, it was just past midnight which prompted vocalist/guitarist Zachary Cole Smith to joke “I know you all have school tomorrow so we’re going to play a little fast and get this over with.” Coming from him, it’s a bit ironic that he says that because on stage, he looks about the size of a high school student in an oversized sweater. But with his guitar he definitely plays a lot larger than his size suggests. Smith might be best known for his work in the lo-fi garage rock band Beach Fossils, but with DIIV, he has a musical outlet can potentially surpass the former.

DIIV (which also consists of guitarist Andrew Bailey, bassist Devin Perez, and drummer Colby Hewitt) began their set that paralleled the sequencing of their debut album Oshin. Opening with the instrumental intro “(Druun)” and following with “Past Lives” and “Human,” they made it clear what their live M.O. is all about: fucking loud and fucking fast. Those two traits were exemplified best on “Air Conditioning.” The first half of the former is carried by a heavy, undulating bass and krautrock-esque percussion. But they extended the song a couple of minutes longer that morphed into as a psychedelic jam session. Smith ended up adding a couple of new lines to the song and showing off his ferociousness by screaming some notes, as if the music couldn’t get any louder (not a complaint, mind you). While guitars primarily serve as the foundation of DIIV’s songs, “Doused” is the lone exception with a striking bass groove that stays prominent throughout the duration of the song. Knowing that the bass could still be heard added much-needed depth to their set.

What made DIIV one of my favorite new acts this year is how they can maximize the brevity and repetitiveness of the lyrics by surrounding it impressive musicianship such as on “How Long Have You Known.” The minimal and catchy lyrics are enough to get your attention and swim around in your head for awhile, but it’s the blistering and crisp guitar-work that gets you to simply rock the hell out.

“This is our slowest song” stated Smith before diving into “Wait.” On record, yes it’s their slowest song, but definitely not live. Judging by the mosh pit and crowd surfing going on throughout their set, it’s best that DIIV doesn’t have a slow song. Although one guy that performed a crowd dive could’ve worked on his form as Smith judgingly quipped, “pathetic stage dive.”

What I thought would be a shoegaze/dream-pop-esque set turned into basically a psychedelic punk rock show, which was not a bad thing at all; it’s one hell of a surprise. The only other surprise was that their headlining set ran under 40 minutes. But what can you do when you’ve already gone through your catalog? Even one of the members admitted that “we actually don’t even have any more songs.” But at least they tossed in a raucous cover of Nirvana’s (a band that inspired their namesake) “Bambi Suicide” to fill-out their set.

Any time a band such as DIIV steps on the gas with their music in a live setting in contrast to their album and not hit any bumps along the way is an impressive feat. OK, that’s not entirely true since the blaringly loud guitars did tend to drown out the vocals a couple of times. But even in a sea of reverb and delay, the melodies still floated to the surface without losing a breath. If you ask me, I wouldn’t be surprised if DIIV swims further than Beach Fossils in the near future (OK I’m done with the water-related puns, I promise).

04 Aug

By Ace Ubas

Check Yo Ponytail 2 is a monthly music event/party hosted by Franki Chan, Danny Johnson and Zane Landreth at the Echoplex. This month, the trio looked across the pond and brought over British electro-pop sensations Metronomy to headline this month’s installment, along with local acts Sisu and Nite Jewel.

The last time Metromony played in Los Angeles was in 2009. Since then, they have gone through some changes such as adding a live drummer in ex-Lightspeed Champion member Anna Prior and replacing original bassist Gabriel Stebbing with Gbenga Adelekan. Their latest album, The English Riviera (released via Because Music), received tons of critical acclaim, resulting in a Mercury Prize nomination. Last Saturday night marked only their second show in the States this year (they played New York last Thursday night) as well as their return to L.A. to a sold-out crowd.

Opening band Sisu was definitely a band that I was totally unfamiliar with. I noticed something familiar about the quartet, until I figured out that their vocalist/guitarist, Sandra Vu, is actually the drummer for noise-pop outfit Dum Dum Girls. Sisu’s music follows the pattern of this resurging goth/synth-pop sound (ala Austra, Zola Jesus), but the emphasis on heavier riffs and distortion from the guitar makes it a bit more shoegaze.

Under the moniker Nite Jewel, DIY musician Ramona Gonzalez has made her mark across the LA music scene. She’s played practically every venue in Los Angeles, from the Smell to the Music Box. Those that have seen her live know that she usually plays solo. However, when she came out with a full band, most of the crowd was pleasantly surprised. Her 80s-inspired pop tunes produced lush, ethereal melodies that surely put the anxious crowd at ease.

By the time midnight rolled around, Metronomy hit the stage to a roaring ovation as they jumped right into “We Broke Free” from their latest album. The slow-jam of an opener settled everyone down with a funky bass, swirling synths, and a guitar solo. They followed it up with “Love Underlined” that starts out with a more erratic rhythm, but came together into a more bouncy melody that served as a perfect segue into “Back on the Motorway.” From the first line of “I went and mess around with her heart” to the last line “but this carriage way can’t take me there,” the crowd sang along word-for-word as Oscar Cash ended the song with mean saxophone solo.

The mood got a bit darker and sexier with “She Wants.” Bassist Gbenga Adelekan’s musicianship stole the spotlight, giving the live rendition a funkier vibe to it paired with Anna Prior’s post-punk style drumming. The infectious pop-melody of “Heartbreaker” spread throughout the venue as the crowd threw-up their salutes in unison with the band during the whistle-blowing interlude of the song.

Metronomy sent everyone back into the disco era with synth-lead songs “Holiday” and “The Bay,” injecting euphoria to everyone on the dance floor and giving a literal, live meaning to the line “it feels so good” in the latter song. “The Look” was easily their most hypnotic song of their set, with its repetitive structure, catchy synth chords, and the echoing falsettos of Cash and Adelekan.

After ending their set with the appropriately-titled song “On Dancefloors,” the quartet came back out for a two-song encore. Before playing jazzy number “Some Written,” Mount took the time to introduce the rest of his band as they emerged from the back. If there had to be one highlight of the night, it was easily the fan-favorite “Radio Ladio.” Everyone was whipping back-and-forth, jumping up-and-down, and expressing their ecstasy when they sang “L-A-D-I-O!!!” And as they sang those letters, everyone with a heartbeat was instantly showered in foam, making the night even more memorable.

This night was easily the most fun I’ve had at a show since I can remember. Right from the get-go, Metronomy captured everyone’s attention and never let go as they took them on one hell of a dance ride. Joseph Mount’s friendliness and charm (like getting everyone to boo New York) and Oscar Cash’s subtle but groovy dancing really makes this band hard to hate. The decision of adding a live drummer in talented Anna Prior was a remarkable one. She adds so much to their live sound, making it more fresh, lively, and dynamic. I just wished they played “Everything Goes My Way,” where she takes over the vocal duties because she has an amazing and soft voice that contrasts nicely with Mount’s vocals. And Gbenga Adelekan brings enormous amounts of energy with his virtuosity on his bass and natural aptitude to get the crowd to participate in handclaps and sing-alongs.

I really can’t emphasize enough about their chemistry with one another and their ability to interact with a crowd. If you didn’t get a chance to see them play live in either New York or Los Angeles, there’s no need to worry about as they will be back in the States touring this October in support of The English Riviera.

Check out the tour dates at

Set List:

We Broke Free
Love Underlined
Back on the Motorway
She Wants
Heart Breaker
The Bay
You Could Easily Have Me
End of You Too
Thing for Me
The Look
On Dance Floors


Some Written
Radio Ladio

Photos by Laura Tsu