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Brandon Schott @ Bordello, 9/22/07

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Brandon Schott’s CD release party at Bordello in downtown Los Angeles last Saturday night was like something out of Moulin Rouge! Backed by a string quartet and 11 other musicians, Schott—a singer and multi-instrumentalist—performed his new CD, Golden State, in its entirety and threw in a few surprises as well.

And did I mention there were belly dancers?

Myth has it that Bordello was a five-story bordello in the early 1900s. Its red décor and ubiquitous chandeliers give it a vibe unlike any other venue in LA. Plus the entertainment (at least that night) included a few belly dancers between sets. You don't see that every day.

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Prior to Schott taking the stage, Moving Picture Show performed an energetic set that began with them banging a marching drum as they made their way through the sea of people. I’d never heard them before, but found them to be instantly likeable. When I tried to mentally compare them to other bands, I found myself at a loss because they did a good job of creating their own sound—but if I had to name one, I’d probably go with The Killers. Not only did I enjoy their sound, but they had a theatricality about them that felt comfortable rather than put-on.

After another belly dancing interlude, Schott took the stage. Other LA singers and multi-instrumentalists in their own right joined him on the stage as he led the packed venue on a journey through his new album. The band included Tim Schoenhals (bass, acoustic guitar, piano, omnichord), Craig Ferguson (pedal steel, guitar and mandolin), Dave Stalker (drums), Steve Barton (guitar), Andrew Duncan (trumpet), Greg Jamrok (acoustic guitar and bass), a choir composed of John Hoskinson, Duane Dolieslager, Steven Wilson, Kevin Kratzke and Brady Harris, and a string quartet featuring Hiro Goto (violin), James Tan (violin), Chris Woods (viola) and Adrienne Woods (cello).

Prior to this event, I had downloaded Golden State from iTunes. As its name implies, it’s an album inspired by California and—more specifically—Los Angeles. I found it to be the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday or a drive up the I-5. During the concert, I found myself singing along with songs like “Beachwood,” “Everyone Knows It But You” and “Golden State,” not realizing until that night that I already knew all the words. Golden State is an album that sneaks up on you.

Another favorite of the evening was the instrumental “…Harper?” a short but sweet lullaby Schott dedicated to his children (who were at home, of course). But the best moment of the night took place when he performed a favorite song from his first album, Release. In preparation for “Paper Wings,” everyone in attendance had been given a kazoo upon entering Bordello. During the chorus, hundreds of people formed to become one giant kazoo choir.

'Twas a golden night.

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