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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Roky Erickson and the Night Beats - El Rey Theater, 3/1/12

Roky Erickson and the Night Beats
I went and saw Roky Erickson and the Night Beats at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on 3/1/12. The show was on a Thursday night but was still sold out. The marquee said the show started at 8:00 pm but it didn’t begin until 10:00. They kept people waiting outside until after 8:30 and then it was a hour and a half wait until the warm up band hit the stage.

One warm up act was Roky’s backing band; this was an unknown band. They also acted as Roky’s son, Jegar’s, backing band. Roky walked through the crowd and went up to the balcony to see his son’s set. He was wearing a cool, white, sport coat. Him and Dana set upstairs and watched Jegar’s set.

Jegar’s set wasn’t really “horror rock” but more “angst rock”. The songs seemed to follow the lines of love lost, or opportunities lost, due to the acts of nefarious people. I heard some negative comments among the audience but… NONE of these kids of genius performers ever approach their parents. The kids have an impossible bar to try and attain and be compared against. The only kid of a genius musician (that I can think of) who carved out his own audience and sound was Hank William Jr. So it’s a tough thing.

After Roky's band with Jegar there was another, unnecessary, set by some other band called the Night Beats from Seattle. They were a power trio and played a kind of punk, Sixties beat, music in fuzzed out guitar. Bring on Roky! Enough of this shit!

Roky hit the stage around midnight and opened with Bo Diddley’s a Headhunter. This was the same song that he opened with in 2008 while with the Black Angels. This had more of a truncated intro that brought Roky out quickly. Roky seemed alert and in good spirits. He didn’t need a notebook to remember the lyrics. He immediately strapped on his guitar and played it for most of the set.

The band seemed well rehearsed and professional. I had heard reports that they were a second rate band but I didn’t see that. They were no Black Angels but who is? It became immediately apparent that the “sound” of this new Roky band was created by Roky hammering out the guts of the song on rhythm and the “hotshot” lead guitarist waling out on the lead. The rest: keyboards, additional guitarist, drums, bass all created a cacophony of sound behind it. They were twitching around, grimacing and bopping their heads but we could have just been left with the drummer and achieved the same effect.

What was cool was seeing Roky with another young band that, obviously, worshiped him. This mix works well for the old Campaigner. And it’s not some group that wants to turn his music into folk rock and a singer who tries to out sing Roky; like that group he did his album with. And it’s not a bunch of old farts who play competent backing music but without any imagination. This new Roky band are a young band.

Roky sounded GREAT and blew through some of his best songs. Highlights were Bermuda, Two Headed Dog, Bloody Hammer and (for me) John Lawman. I managed to shoot 2/3 of the show on HD video (using a video camera) before some Security fuck made me turn it off. I was right down front too; no need to use the zoom.

The only kind of bummer was that a group of kids pushed their way down onto the dance floor and began moshing around violently. They were on acid because they kept flashing their little tongues at each other with two hits of blotter on them. I guess they thought that it would work better if they kept it pasted on their tongue. They didn’t give a shit about anybody and (basically) disrupted the experience. One leapt up onto the stage and tried to hug Roky who withdrew. He then took a flying leap off of the stage into the audience who moved aside and let him hit the floor. Roky went to the edge of the stage and peered out with a troubled look on this face. One kid kept bumping into this guy’s wife who then threw is ass on the floor and threatened to fuck him up. Security came and quelled it.

Near the end, Roky’s voice gave completely out and he was reduced to hoarse squeaking. His son, Jegar, stepped in and helped him sing the two ‘Elevators songs (Splash 1 and Roller Coaster) and the encore (You’re Gonna Miss Me.). It was OK! Roky had given his all.

Below is some vid from the show. My vid is being processed right now. I didn't shoot any of this:

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