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Arts and Entertainment

The Love Language and Headlights @ Spaceland 4/12/09

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Photos by Jeremy Oberstein/LAist

Every now and then, when the wind is blowing the right way, the moon is half full, and the planets align you walk into a small club and have your face melted off by the sheer brilliance of some little band you've never heard of. For the twenty of you who wandered into the Spaceland at around ten on Sunday night, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For the rest of you, who were engaged in other activities (eating Easter dinner with your loved ones, having tea with Satan, polishing your bowling trophy collection, whatever) let me just say that you guys should look out for the Love Language next time they come to town. It's worth missing a tea party with Beezelbub.

Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, the Love Language is a garage rock outfit which comprised of six musicians, two keyboardist, two guitarists, a drummer, a bassist, and someone who is designated wild tambourine dancer during any given song. Each tune seemed to be orchestrated so that someone was able to drop their instrument, grab the tambourine, and dance like a mad thing while the others played. This attitude of unbridled joy radiated from the stage and hit the audience like a steamroller.

I was unprepared for the sheer power, passion, and quality of sound from these guys. The only thing I had heard was their single, Lalita, which sounded as though it was recorded in the men's bathroom at Union Station. To be fair, their debut album was recorded in the lead singer's bathroom and attic, so it sounds largely unfinished. However, on stage they produced a sound that can be best described as: imagine if Belle and Sebastianwere from the south...on steroids. They closed the night with the rawest version of Ricky Nelson's Hello, Mary Lou, that I've ever heard. Mark my words big things will be coming from that band.

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It seemed almost cruel to put another act on after the Love Language left the stage. Nobly Headlights got up there and attempted to compete with their upstaging openers. I would like to tell you that they succeeded honorably. Or that it was even close. I regret to inform you that it wasn't.

The sugary pop outfit from Champaign, Illinois were outnumbered and outmatched that night, and everyone knew it. With a paltry four members, guitarist, keyboardist, drummer, and bassist respectifully, Headlights produced the kind of pop that make your teeth set on edge like when you eat too many circus peanuts. Or as my photographer Jeremy put it, "They've got more sap than a Vermont maple tree, and less talent."

The cloying harmonies between the keyboardist, Erin Fein, and guitarist, Tristan Wraight contrasted poorly with their bands rock vibe. They also had a tough time getting going. Each song began painfully slowly and right about the time I began to lose faith in them, they would have an interesting drum solo or guitar lick. There would be a flash of inspiration, and I would think, "Hey, they're going somewhere with this!" Then just as quickly as it arrived, the interest would sink below the surface of their sticky oozing pop like a mastodon in a tar pit.

Perhaps it just wasn't their night. Perhaps the bar had been set too high by the Love Language. Perhaps I was feeling sick from the copious amount of Peeps and Cadbury eggs that had been consumed earlier in the day. Whatever the case. Headlights' sicky sweet sound fell flat.