El Rey Theater
Los Angeles, CA
We saw Danish group The Raveonettes in what was our second show at The El Rey Theater in about a ten-day span. This was another band I had been wanting to see for a very long time — readers who have seen my “Best of” lists will know that their records consistently make it into consideration, and often appear on the lists themselves. But they never came to my neck of the woods (i.e., central Virginia or Louisiana) — so now that I’m in a city where one of the two members (Sharin Foo) now lives, I was more than a little enthusiastic for the show.
If you don’t know The Raveonettes sound, it’s 50′s-60′s song structures overloaded with fuzzy distortion (especially on guitars and vocals), guy-girl harmonies, and lyrics that push the grittier end of the spectrum. Fans of The Jesus and Mary Chain should find a lot to like here. The band member responsible for writing the songs, Sune Rose Wagner, has mentioned Twin Peaks as a kind of inspiration for the atmosphere in the band’s songs. On their early records, they added the gimmick of only playing in one key (B-flat minor for the 2002 EP Whip It On; B-flat major for their first full-length album, 2003′s Chain Gang of Love). Thankfully, they soon gave up that trick. While those early releases were good, I personally thought the band hit its stride with Lust Lust Lust and really started kicking ass with the follow-up In and Out of Control (which if I were redoing my annual list for 2009, would be in the top 3, up from #10).
In any event, what I was expecting from the show was not exactly what we got. Now first of all, I have to admit that in my heart of hearts, I was hoping that since the show was in Los Angeles, Ronnie Spector might show up to reprise her part in the song she recorded with The Raveonettes for their album Pretty in Black, “Ode to L.A.” That was pure fantasy, I know, and of course it didn’t happen. But I also thought that given the rich instrumentation on their songs, the band would show up with several touring members (like Menomena did). Instead, they only brought a drummer, and relied on quite a bit of canned audio to fill out their songs. This wasn’t an enormous problem — I still really enjoyed the show — but there were certain moments where things just didn’t work. The trouble was clearest during the song “Observations,” off the brand-new album Observator. The band themselves have talked about the importance of adding piano parts to the new record, and this song is probably where that addition is most prominent — but there was no keyboard on stage. Again, it’s not typically a big issue (for me, at least) to have some canned piano, but there is a part of this particular song where there is no other instrumentation or vocals, so the band just stood there while the piano played on. It just seemed awkward to me, at least more so than when Wagner and Foo were playing different guitar parts while one could also hear a very prominent bass line — they had something to do, anyway!
One other note: some of the least between-song banter I’ve ever heard from a band, and in fact they seemed to be a little down. I have no idea whether this is normal. Foo said that the band was being “very Danish tonight” — perhaps fatigue from being near the end of the tour? Again, a great show, really delighted to have seen them…just maybe not exactly what I was expecting.
2. She Owns the Streets
3. Dead Sound
5. Curse the Night
6. The Enemy
7. Gone Forever
10. Young and Cold
11. Love in a Trashcan
12. Medley: Attack of the Ghost Riders/My Tornado/Bowels of the Beast/Aly, Walk with Me
14. Sinking with the Sun
15. Cops on Our Tail
Download: The Raveonettes – Los Angeles – 10/8/2012 – 322 MB
Sample: Gone Forever (Live)