THE GEMS + ESPRESSO SHOW REVIEW
The day after a show always leaves me with mixed emotions. I’m still filled with adrenaline and I’m grateful to have gotten to have gotten to see such a good show, but I’m sad it’s over. This particular event held a special place in my heart, because it took place in the venue where I attended my first show, as well as featuring some of the most unique bands that Southern California has to offer.
Espresso is one of L.A.’s most refreshing groups at the moment, bringing funkrock to the D.I.Y. scene. I was expecting them to exclusively play songs off of their newest album, Alvin Bovin’s Big Break, but they surprised me by performing songs off of B.O.B.E as well. When describing their sound, I don’t really know where to start. It’s apparent that they have a heavy punk influence, but have added their own twist with heavy, retro style bass, and brighter sounding electric guitar. They kicked off the show with “Close Enough” and proceeded with favorites like “Twealer” and “Space Ship, Space Dick.” The performance was eccentric in the fact that throughout the set, the crowd’s response to the music ranged from engaging in a mosh pit to slow dancing. The audience took a song or two to warm up, but once they did, it was one of the most accommodating crowds I’ve ever been in; I don’t think I saw anyone fall even once. Although the set was not as long as I had hoped it would be, I enjoyed myself just as much as I could’ve wanted to. Nothing they played sounded like stuff you couldn’t dance to, and by the end of their set, even some of the adults who came to the joint just to have dinner that night stood up to dance. You can tell that the three-piece comes with the sole intention of making sure that everyone has a great time; the guitar player and the bass player even have choreographed dance moves for their song, “Space Ship Space Dick.” The band’s feel-good tunes and obvious experience in performance always give a great vibe and causes time to feel nonexistent. If you’re looking for a good time, Espresso is the perfect group to check out.
Stemming from Long Beach, California, The Gems’ surf punk sound gets everyone up and moving. When they started setting up, I was shocked at how packed the place became; it seemed like people from all over the area had rushed to get there just to hear them play. Their set was composed mainly of songs from their latest EP, Secret Fires. Tracks like “Lampoon’s Lagoon” and “Sandy’s Lasso,” are ridden with excruciatingly heavy bass, as well as synth, a somewhat new addition to their sound, resulting in feeling like you’re on a trip to a whole new dimension. The lead singer does a good job of moving around the entire time, encouraging the audience even further to get as rowdy as they possibly could. The pit was crazy- I didn’t even think you could have that in such a small place, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about live music, it’s that if people want to get into it, they’ll find a way to get into it. That many sweaty bodies in such a small space is the number one indicator that people loved it. The slight western feel on the old-school punk sounding tracks was also a nice addition, reminding me of a few of The Garden’s songs. They eventually closed out the show with “Dream Girl,” their most well known piece. Everyone around me was screaming the words at the top of their lungs.
Our hearts pounding, my friends and I piled out of the venue, grinning from what we’d just experienced. Getting to see such good bands while spending time with those who mean the most to me is a feeling that is truly irreplaceable. The music produced last night put me at ease, and I can honestly say that I am already anticipating the next time these bands come to my town again.