Concert Review + Photography: Dark Dark Dark & Y La Bamba at The Satellite (Los Angeles)

Dark Dark Dark

Dark Dark Dark (Minneapolis, MN), Y La Bamba (Portland, OR), Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? (New Orleans, LA)
April 28th, 2011
The Satellite in Los Angeles, California

It was a cool spring night in Silver Lake on April 28. An eclectic crowd of all shapes and sizes continued to slowly roll in as the evening began. By the time Dark Dark Dark was up on stage, Satellite was comfortably full. The crowd was a little thin still when Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? started their set. However, one girl in the crowd was swinging and swaying with unwavering affection for Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? They create a carousel of sound using accordion, trumpet, French horn, maracas and a toy piano among other instruments. Their lyrics are clear, eerie and incredibly emotive as delivered by Walt McClements.

Rarely have I seen someone rock an accordion as hard as Walt does. He possesses somewhat of a cartoon-like voice with a hint of Leonard Graves Phillips, lead singer of The Dickies. Big Ship’s philosophical circus folk style is wild, untamed and absolutely fascinating. The song Lonesome Leash had a thumping beat that made my toes tap uncontrollably with a little bit of a hip hop vibe to it. The accordion solo was entirely necessary when you can play as good as Walt can. And James K, who plays trumpet and toy piano, looks like a model who just happened to walk out of a truck stop with his turquoise flannel, cut off pants and trucker hat.

The divine orchestration lends itself to the roots of classic New Orleans jazz with intriguing experimental twists and turns throughout each song. Their album Of Resolution and Resolve is available here.

The lovely Latin songbird Luz Elena Mendoza sauntered up to the stage dressed all in black with a little fedora hat. Her aura is exotic and mysterious, yet strangely inviting and friendly at the same time. Y La Bamba went on just before Dark Dark Dark that night.

The five guys in the band deliver layers of harmony that surround Luz’s leading vocals with a luscious wall of sound. Ben Meyercord, bass player, served up playful commentary between songs, inviting the crowd to come closer to the stage. “Don’t be shy, we don’t bite,” said Meyercord.

Eric Schrepel, Scott Magee and Mike Kitson traded places on percussion, accordion and several other instruments like kids in a game of double-dutch throughout the set. The samba folk flavor is thick with heavy percussions layered throughout every song. As Luz belted out alluring lyrics in Spanish, her radiant Mexican heritage permeated the crowd. Guitar player Paul Cameron enriched the balance of sultry and sweet with his velvety vocals.

The last song that Y La Bamba played got everyone in Satellite up on their feet and dancing. Even Luz danced a little jig up on stage during Viuda Encabronada. Everyone was completely captivated by the explosive and fiery energy emanating off of Y La Bamba. Their most recent album, Lupon, is available on iTunes.

Dark Dark Dark provoked interpretive dance moves in their diverse group of fans. Every tone, pitch and note holds it’s own intense meaning. Although the lyrics are vague enough to be universal, but still hold a margin of specificity that is truly penetrating. Nona Marie Invie’s voice seeps gently under your skin and courses through your veins. She sings about someone, but we don’t know who it is. “I wanted to tell you, but I lied oh I lied,” and we have all done it. It’s as if she strips bare on stage to tell us her secrets, only omitting the details. Nona Marie speaks soft and sweetly to the crowd, while she trades off the piano and accordion between songs.

Marshall LaCount sang a couple of songs as well providing a beautiful contrast, while switching off between banjo, piano and clarinet. His passion poured out thick like molasses when he sang with his eyes shut. Brett Bullion delivered the drums and percussion with impeccable clarity. Walt McClements, singer for Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?, played accordion, piano and trumpet as well as back up vocals for DDD.

DDD scratches the surface of all your hopes, fears and insecurities with raw honesty. Nona Marie’s voice peels away the dust, dirt and grime to reveal the truth and it was tangible at Satellite that night. Dark Dark Dark’s latest release, Wild Go, is available on iTunes.

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