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Tour Review: The Naked And Famous, The Chain Gang of 1974, White Arrows

posted October 30, 2011, 5:50 pm by Ben Oliver | Filed Under Editorial, General Interest, Interviews, Live Show Reviews | comment Leave a Comment

Tags: White Arrows, White Arrows, The Chain Gang of 1974, Wayward Fire, The Naked And Famous


Photos by Caleb Dickerson

As a music critic, I take pride in being ahead of the curve when it comes to early adoption. I will let you in on a little secret that I have that most bloggers won’t admit. Sometimes the way that I learn of new bands worth checking out is by keeping my eyes and ears open to who will be opening for bands that I already want to see. Months ago when I realized that The Naked And Famous were passing through town, I was excited to know that The Chain Gang Of 1974 was the opening support slot. That’s when I originally discovered there was another band on the line up, White Arrows. Looking forward to this show for a long time, here is my review along with an interview with both White Arrows and The Chain Gang Of 1974 (TCGO1974).

White Arrows, who we first premiered on a podcast a few months ago, are a 5 piece self-described psycho tropic band from the city of Angels. They refuse to be referred to as hipster core, so maybe a fitting description would be shamanistic pop. Ok, that’s kinda a joke, but I’m not kidding about how rad this new band is! You may not have heard of them yet, despite their already having played Sasquatch music festival. They have also toured this year with Cults, White Denim, and now currently with The Naked and Famous. They have a remarkable and unique back story you may already know. They started as the brain child project of singer and guitar player Mickey Schiff. Born blind, he spent his childhood sharpening his auditory senses and teaching himself music. Suddenly, at age 11, he amazingly gained sight, and his world came alive. He then studied ritualistic shamanism at NYU before returning to L.A. to start White Arrows with his brother and friends, releasing their first self-titled EP last year.

This may just be eclectic electro-psych rock at it’s best. Their set included most, if not all, songs from their EP, including covers of both Bruce Springstein‘s “I’m On Fire” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Save Me A Place”. One article I read said they have the “swagger of a pscyhed-out Stooges or a junk-less Lou Reed”. Their stage setup and presence is minimalist yet unmistakable. Personally, their rendition of my favorite tracks “City Boy” and “Coming Or Going” were highlights for me. I have a feeling this is a band who many will be raving about in the year to come.

I was so excited to finally watch TCGO1974 live! I was turned onto the one piece from Spin’s 35 Must-Hear Acts at SXSW list. We chose TCGO1974 to be on our Top 10 Indie Picks for Lollapalooza 2011. If Kamtin Mohager hadn’t lived in the 1980’s, you get the feeling that he would somehow still love the decade’s sounds. Like Nine Inch Nails and Dashboard Confessional, the shape-shifting singer/multi-instrumentalist is the only member of the increasingly popular outfit, who of course recruits a band while out touring. If you haven’t listened to the Wayward Fire record yet, I’m positive you will be familiar with it soon. It sounds more 80’s than 80’s music does!

Just a few days before this show, Katmin departed ways with Jeff Apruzzese, bass player for indie fave Passion Pit. He would later tell us during our interview that he met Jeff through his roommate, who plays keyboards for Foster The People. The 4 piece were subdued but powerful. The set list began with “Devil Is A Lady“, then one of my favorites, “Matter Of Time“. Before ending their short performance, they also played their popular “Hold On“. While the album is difficult to stop listening to, the live act was a bit lackluster. It seems they perhaps are just going through growing pains, and still trying to work out all of the kinks. Katmin also mentioned in the interview encountering some technical difficulties on previous stops of this tour. Nevertheless, they still sounded good and were entertaining to watch. Once Katmin goes solo or settles on a permanent lineup, he will take his art to the next level.

It was finally time for the main act, and it was obvious who everyone came to see. The Naked And Famous, as noted everywhere already, are a 5 piece from Auckland, New Zealand. I knew they were immensely popular, which is why the event had sold out quite a long time ago. What I wasn’t sure of was how their live sound would come across. My friend once saw them in New York City start a set at midnight, with absolutely no lights in the entire venue, only music playing. They began with “The Ends”, then continued with “A Wolf In Geek’s Clothing”, “Punching In A Dream”, “Speak”, “Bells”, “Frayed” and more. I don’t think anyone would disagree with how stellar of a show they put on. And just to prove how great of a band they are, they waited until the last song of their encore before finally playing their hit single “Young Blood.”: You are probably already familiar with this song from the radio, and even more recently from it being played on MTV and the World Series.

All in all, this is a great bill that made for a great night. I felt fortunate to get a chance to see each of these three groups before they become even more well known than they already are. Members of the audience danced during each performance, and kept dancing more as the night went on. I don’t think any of these great indie bands have even scratched the surface of their potential, we should have plenty of incredible music to look forward to from them.

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