Live Review: Creature Canyon at Venice West, Los Angeles

Live Review: Creature Canyon at Venice West, Los Angeles

An experience to remember

Before the pandemic, there was already a notion that going to live concerts was a relatively dying trend, given the near-endless rise in free and abundantly available recorded music. At the same time, artists had been financially squeezed by the millions of pennies paid to them by services like Spotify, and by the small profits a band can make playing a live show.

As important as hard things like revenue and audience reach are, it’s the unparalleled live to attend a concert with a solid band, side by side with other fans who share the experience with you, this is the original purpose of why many musicians play music to begin with. Shows like these remind music lovers why live music will continue to endure, even in the face of a pandemic.

Backed by a row of blue lights draped over the brick wall in the background, three bands – The Sevs, Strange Case and Creature Canyon – took the stage at Venice West on Thursday night June 30. The stage was relatively small and groups of four to five people could barely squeeze together.

It’s not always easy for up-and-coming bands to gather an audience in the music-saturated LA environment, but more than a few people with no direct connection to the band members decided to show up after hearing Creature’s songs. Canyon online or via radio. Although the ratings didn’t peak until the headliner arrived, the Sevs and Strange Case were nonetheless solid backing bands.

The first two acts demonstrated contrast in everything from musical styles and audience interaction, to choice of dress. The first act of the evening, the Sevs, took the stage dressed relatively formally and made the fairly common artistic choice to focus more on performing for themselves than for the audience. From the first note, their music featured a roaring low end that was hard to distinguish as an intentional choice of the band or a feature of The Venice West’s acoustics, sound system and venue mixing.

The band’s greatest strength was their instrumental tightness, which an audience can sometimes take for granted. The Sev’s original songs demonstrated the instrumental ability of each band member, with an impressive variety of drum fills and basslines in particular. Another interesting musical dynamic was that the bass and drums seemed to keep highlighting those fills and basslines as Dawson Henry sang, while Dax Taylor’s lead guitar riffs were more sparse. Naturally, the band’s and the audience’s focus was on the band’s instrumental abilities, whereas other bands might choose to downplay those elements in exchange for focusing on the vocals or the original song.

Compared to studio versions of top tracks like “Renaissance Man”, the live performance was just as tight, with the only major difference being the louder volume of low-end instruments like bass and drums. Naturally, the vocals weren’t as clear in the live performance as they were in the studio version, which again could just be the result of the mixing.

Strange Case, meanwhile, seemed to make a deliberate choice to create a loose, laid-back rapport with the audience. Stepping out in an array of colorful t-shirts and baggy pants, the band immediately seemed to be having fun on stage. Between the jokes about the strength of the alcohol being served and a group of clearly devoted fans jumping to just about every song, the number of audience interactions was far higher than at many concerts.

Strange Case’s sound largely centers around the lead guitar’s wah-wah pedal that drapes the rest of the instrumentation. The highlights of Strange Case came when the bassist and lead guitarist came in unexpectedly with harmonies that, as a friend pointed out to me, created some sonic “space” and balanced out the end volume. lower bass and drums.

Fittingly, the set ended with the guitarist lying on the stage to complete the final song.

About an hour into the show, the headliner arrived. From the moment Creature Canyon started their first song, you could feel a mixture of confidence that comes with experience, while maintaining a warm rapport with the audience. By this point, the hall had filled with dozens of people just a few feet from the stage.

Musically, the band’s secret weapon is the blend of unique guitar and keyboard/organ sounds, bass and drum stability, and a powerful vocalist. All of this combines to create a disco vibe. Many Creature Canyon songs feature disco/funk guitar riffs with a clean, crisp tone, combined with an assortment of keyboard player effects that seem to make the music, and even the room, feel bigger. The bass and drums were a great demonstration of how less can be more, and not a single note or fill was played for anything other than the good of the collective sound. For many groups, this restraint is not easy to find. For example, the “Heartbreakers” behind Tom Petty were integral to the band’s success and they did so largely by knowing when to step forward and when to step back. Finally, the lead singer was not only technically talented, but led the band’s mix of charisma with confidence and helped walk the line between connecting with the audience and maintaining some meaningful distance.

A crowd favorite was “Hot Streak”, first released in 2018, which was a bit slower and groovier than most sets. The song showcased lead singer Austin Steele’s range and vocal control with all the intricacies such a rhythmic melody demands. As the set drew to a close, another memorable moment came when Steele grabbed his microphone from its stand and jumped straight into the audience.

Shows like these remind fans why live music is so important: the experience itself. Of course, there are better ways for the band to spend their time if they only cared about making money or expanding the fan base – just spend every waking hour promoting online. to thousands of strangers and spend less time performing live. Instead, what they did allowed for a deeper live experience for a smaller group. After almost two and a half years of being cooped up inside and for many just trying to survive, it was good to feel alive again.


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