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 monthâ€™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. Sisuâ€™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. Sheâ€™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 â€œWe Broke Freeâ€ 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 â€œLove Underlinedâ€ that starts out with a more erratic rhythm, but came together into a more bouncy melody that served as a perfect segue into â€œBack on the Motorway.â€ From the first line of â€œI went and mess around with her heartâ€ to the last line â€œbut this carriage way canâ€™t take me there,â€ 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 â€œShe Wants.â€ Bassist Gbenga Adelekanâ€™s musicianship stole the spotlight, giving the live rendition a funkier vibe to it paired with Anna Priorâ€™s post-punk style drumming. The infectious pop-melody of â€œHeartbreakerâ€ 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 â€œHolidayâ€ and â€œThe Bay,â€ injecting euphoria to everyone on the dance floor and giving a literal, live meaning to the line â€œit feels so goodâ€ in the latter song. â€œThe Lookâ€ 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 â€œOn Dancefloors,â€ the quartet came back out for a two-song encore. Before playing jazzy number â€œSome Written,â€ 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 â€œRadio Ladio.â€ Everyone was whipping back-and-forth, jumping up-and-down, and expressing their ecstasy when they sang â€œL-A-D-I-O!!!â€ 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 Iâ€™ve had at a show since I can remember. Right from the get-go, Metronomy captured everyoneâ€™s attention and never let go as they took them on one hell of a dance ride. Joseph Mountâ€™s friendliness and charm (like getting everyone to boo New York) and Oscar Cashâ€™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 â€œEverything Goes My Way,â€ where she takes over the vocal duties because she has an amazing and soft voice that contrasts nicely with Mountâ€™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 canâ€™t emphasize enough about their chemistry with one another and their ability to interact with a crowd. If you didnâ€™t get a chance to see them play live in either New York or Los Angeles, thereâ€™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 www.metronomy.co.uk
We Broke Free
Back on the Motorway
You Could Easily Have Me
End of You Too
Thing for Me
On Dance Floors
Photos by Laura Tsu