Go Sailor / all photos by David Greenwald
Familiarity, someone once said, breds contempt. Guy obviously wasn’t an indie-pop fan. The genre, though as wide-ranging as any musical movement, generally boils down to a few key components: electric guitars with a maxed-out treble knob, strummed with an easy pattern (down-down, up-up, down-up, deep breath!); sincere, untrained-crooner vocals that tend to slip off key; rhythm sections with an almost swinging bounce. Slumberland Records has stood behind this music for 20 years; on Sunday night, the label showed off the fruits of its labors at an anniversary show at the Echo that gathered together bands past (Go Sailor) and present (Pants Yell!). All of ’em after the jump.
In true twee fashion, the sets were short (around 20 minutes) but all the more essential for that. I arrived as Summer Cats (one of the label’s latest bands) showcased their pre-My Bloody Valentine proto-shoegaze, a tangent that British indie-pop turned toward in the late ’80s.
I was there, of course, for Go Sailor — one of twee matriarch Rose Melberg’s numerous groups and my favorite of her full-band endeavors. After a decade of a Rose-free Los Angeles, getting to see her on Sunday after last October’s solo shows came like manna from heaven. The band played a tight, joyous set with the best of their 14-song catalog and even a Softies cover, the early Slumberland single “Love Seat.” Be still my heart!
Other acts took the stage — The How, more of an homage to the Who in both sound and name than a twee group, and talented young L.A. musician Devon Williams, whose influences lean more toward Big Star and sometime-tourmate Destroyer — but it was Pants Yell! who brought the house down. In their first-ever L.A. show, the Boston act played a set full of guitar solos, rebellious nerd lyrics and Peter Pan-sized hooks. In a way, they’re what Weezer could’ve been, had Rivers grown up listening to Pavement and Buddy Holly instead of Kiss (and not totally gone off the deep end two albums in).
Throughout the night, the Echo’s floor was crowded with the cardigan-clad bodies of moshing twee fans. Moshing twee fans. People were mouthing Go Sailor lyrics while slamming into each other; I’ve never seen anything like it. Apparently the band sold 73 t-shirts in one go in San Francisco the night before, one sign among many that some 20 years later, Slumberland’s brand of underground pop remains as familiar — and beloved — as ever. Let’s do this every year.
Previously: Live: Rose Melberg at Echo Curio / Vacation Vinyl