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Live Review: Radio Free Silverlake presents Signal Hill, In Waves, Xu Xu Fang 07/24/07

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I swore I had never been to Boardner's before, but I realized I was completely wrong as soon I entered the dark bar. I had never explored the depths of the sprawling bar and so I was surprised to discover a small outdoor venue in the back. Amidst the "posh" clubs and red carpets of Hollywood Boulevard, a slew of fantastic LA bands performed with emphatic precision.

Signal Hill opened the show with an impassioned instrumental set. Lush layering of clean plucking driven by busy bass lines and punchy drums comprise Signal Hill's sound. Crowd pleasers like 'This New Year's Absence' exuded unbearable pangs of passion. I haven't felt this moved by an instrumental band since Explosions In The Sky and the mere comparison speaks volumes about their worthiness. Signal Hill performs remarkably poignant instrumental rock that grasps your attention and never ceases to let go.

Next, Echo Park natives In Waves graced the stage. Their set got off to a rocky start due to the sound guy being a total asshole. I tried my best to laugh through the uncomfortable confrontation between singer Jimmy Notorleva and Boardner's sound guy: "Turn down? My volume knob is at like 3!" There was a moment of collective frustration where it seemed as though the bickering had irritated Notorleva to the extent of not playing at all. Thankfully, he shrugged it off and rocked in spite of the incompetent sound guy. The three-piece have been lauded by Kevin Bronson, of the LA Times Buzz Bands Blog, and for good reason. Songs like 'Careful Talk' and 'A Walk' are indicative of the unrestrained allure imbued throughout their dynamic set. In Waves' ambient-laden adventures through heavy reverb wailings remind me of The Stills in their rudimentary stage of evolution.

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Finally, Xu Xu Fang took stage with decorative lights in hand. They continued to wrap the mic stands in order to embark upon the nebulous haze their set comprises. Seemingly subdued and blasé, the front-woman put forth her best Nico impersonation. No seriously. Watching Xu Xu Fang play was like experiencing an acid-driven night out in the 70's. The tambourine was about as pervasive as the murky, psychedelic mood set forth by jams like 'These Days' and 'Good Times'. Or maybe the ambience was set by unnecessary amounts of smoke pillaging on stage. I might be experiencing short-term memory loss due to inhalation. Their set concluded with an extended, extended outro filled with wailing guitar solos, thumping drums and unadulterated rocking out.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the Radio Free Silverlake line-up. I came into the show without any knowledge of the two opening bands, In Waves and Signal Hill, and walked out thoroughly contented. Go see either of them if you get the chance because they'll blow you away. I'd suggest saving Xu Xu Fang for the nights that call for way too much drinking and drugs. Under those disconnected circumstances, one could truly appreciate the experience.

Signal Hill's Setlist:
'This New Year's Absence'
'Dead Vineyard'
'Little Superstar'
'R+D'
'Men Before Us'
'More After We're Gone'

In Waves' Setlist:
'Careful Talk'
'Lion in the Oil'
'A Walk'
'Love As Scarlett'
'Ladders to Fire'
'Already Over'
'A New Silence'

Xu Xu Fang's Setlist:
'Underground'
'Sweeten the Ride'
'Your Way'
'Good Times'
'These Days'

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