Detroit Bar - November 13, 2008
Live Review by Joe Cortez
Orange County is a peculiar place for rock and roll. Where is the danger of leaving your car parked in a questionable neighborhood or walking to the venue somewhat fearful for your own life? It's a safe place, maybe too safe - but it's also my home.
The Detroit Bar seemed like the perfect venue for L.A. based rockers The 88 to settle in for the night while in the O.C. It has the vibe of a Los Angeles-based rock club with few of the drawbacks. It's a strange setting, one that resembles the basement floor of a house with the garage serving as a converted dance floor with all the cool kids from your class drinking alcohol and making out in the dark corners. But enough waxing nostalgic about those wonder years; tonight was all about the music.
The 88 might just have about the coolest name in all of rock today. What does it mean? What does it stand for? What does it matter? It's their name and that's all you need to know. It's an attitude, the way in which they carry themselves. It's in the songs they write and licks they play.
A large perimeter had been created around the stage during the opening acts. I found it more than little funny considering the way fans are usually clamoring to get closer to the stage, but no matter. As the main attraction took the stage, the room began to loosen up and inch closer while they tuned. You could feel the anticipation build until they played that first chord and boy was it ever loud.
As a live band, The 88 are a lot of fun and delivered on their namesake right from the get-go. Theirs was a set filled with fantastic hooks and Britpop-inspired harmonies. In fact, it's kind of a miracle that such a band could be born out of the City of Angels when so much posturing and derivation abounds. The 88 are a breath of fresh air and have succeeded where other local bands fail in trying to capture an older sound and make it their own. Perhaps that's why they have long since evolved past the moniker of "local band" to become a fast rising name on the national level.
The 88's songbook is surprisingly diverse enough to look past the white boy rock sound and incorporate some truly funky grooves that managed to get most of the house moving (it is Orange County, after all). I usually try to remain the objective cynic while taking in a show but their sound was so upbeat and catchy that I couldn't help but be overtaken by dance at times. Heartache creeps up and makes an appearance every once in a while only to be quickly thwarted by some kind of romance, a kind of romance that actually makes falling in love seem kind of thrilling again.
If there was one complaint I had about the show, it was that The 88's set was almost too much of a good thing or good time. At times I wished they would ditch the nice guy routine and get a little rough and edgy. Still, The 88's brand of infectious pop rock is undeniable fun. Walking out into the smoke-filled midnight haze, I don't think there was a person at this performance that couldn't say they had a good time - and if that's not a sign of a great band, then I don't know what is.