West Coast Pop! w/ Bend Sinister, The Racoons & Rococode @ Red Room -- 02/19/11

The West Coast Pop concert series kicked off in fine fashion last night at the Red Room, where it will be running every Saturday for the next 13 weeks. Future acts include 41st & Home, Kyprios, The Dudes, Treelines, and the show I am most looking forward to thus far: We Are The City with Aidan Knight and Analog Bell Service. There will also be more shows announced soon (like, next week soon).

As for the first show... I am not going to lie, I am still disappointed that Young Galaxy had to drop out, but Bend Sinister is always a good time, and the other band I really wanted to see was still on the bill.

That band? Rococode. I had seen this new project from Laura Smith and Andrew Braun in December at the Biltmore (and acoustic at Sitka) and was really impressed, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing them again. Despite being a brand new band, they are not unfamiliar with playing together, which helped them sound incredibly tight. Braun and Smith shared vocals -- and for at least one song, keys -- for some insanely catchy power-pop songs, and even though the crowd was a bit thin due to an early start, they soon drew everyone's attention and filled the dance floor area. I have no doubt they won over more than a few fans, and I especially can't wait until they have some recorded material out; one of their songs, "Empire", was still stuck in my head all morning.

Next up was The Racoons who, after a bit of a false start, got right into it. They were a bit harder rocking, and at times reminded me a little of The Constantines, in both sound and especially vocals. Their songs were good, if lacking a little in variety, and they had a pretty good stage presence as well. I did have some issues with the sound, though. The other two sets sounded fine, but for some reason, the bass was really overpowering; especially at the start of the set. That aside, I did enjoy their set; I wasn't overwhelmed by it, but I liked it well enough and would be interested in seeing them again.

And rounding out the night was Bend Sinister. They are always incredibly fun to watch live, and last night was no exception. Even being the first show with the new bass player, they were firing on all cylinders, with intense energy from the whole band, especially Dan Moxon. Sprinkled throughout their set were some new songs, as they teased a new release at some point. They were definitely "Bend Sinister songs", lively and enthusiastic, and one of which was introduced as "an ode to Hall & Oats". Among the older songs, "CT" and "Dr. Lee" were both highlights, being incredibly frantic, and the pairing of "Don't Let Us Bring You Down" leading into "Things Will Get Better" was pretty great.
At the end, they broke out a Billy Joel cover (I think "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)") before an intense ending with another new song (I think) and, refreshingly, just left the stage, all done with no encore. I think I've ranted before about how I think the encore break is a waste of time, now that everyone expects it, so it's always nice to see a band just use their full time without it.

In all, a damn good launch to what is sure to be an excellent concert series.