Troubadour - November 18, 2010
The last time I saw the Freelance Whales, it was right after their much talked about appearance at South by Southwest. They played at The Echo in March, with a couple of other bands that didn’t exactly match up with their sound. Now, after another Los Angeles show in August in the much larger El Rey Theater, they have seemingly found the perfect balance of small vs. large venues and a well suited opener.
I enjoyed the Miniature Tigers album Fortress upon first hearing it, but it’s come to grow on me even more since then. Consequently, I was rather pleased with this line up, getting two great bands for the effort of one trip. Lead singer Charlie Brand was wearing some sort of odd, elfin jacket that fascinated me. It was red … with a hood, looked like it was made out of felt. Brand is kind of a tall guy, so this fact made his childlike jacket even more amusing. He was quite entertaining, at one point wading into the crowd to sing, or announcing that the next song, “Japanese Woman Living in My Closet” was for “All the Japanese women.” While the crowd was clearly waiting for Freelance Whales, they also seemed to enjoy the opening act.
When Judah Dadone walked onto stage to set up his instruments, the crowd went nuts, and there were tons of screaming women. While Dadone is very talented, he’s not a traditional looking heartthrob type by American standards, so it was amusing to watch these women giggling at his mere presence. He seemed to be slightly embarrassed by the whole thing.
For the first time in Los Angeles, the band told us about halfway through, they were going to play their entire album (minus the less-than-a minute connecting tracks). The audience, which was either at capacity or very near it, could not have been more pleased. Everyone was singing along, and no one minded when, during the last song before the encore, "Generator ^ Second Floor", the sound on the banjo was too low, or that Kevin Read’s amp decided its life had been long enough, and they had to start over.
It was a great night, and the bands paired well. Miniature Tigers were a little more rocking, with lots of eclectic sounds and humor; and my friend pointed out that the Freelance Whales made him think of The Peanuts, if they had all grown up and formed a band, just because of how much fun they seemed to have on stage and how they worked together. Both bands worked very well in this intimate setting, but I doubt they’ll stick around in smaller clubs for too much longer.