The Big Pink at Non Plus Ultra | Photo by Derrick K. Lee

I get a lot of unsolicited suggestions from strangers about bands or recording artists that I should be checking out. As is often the case, I’m usually left pondering why I wasted the past half hour giving the suggestion the benefit of the doubt for every subpar recording I pressed play on. Thankfully, I have a few friends whose taste in music is above reproach.

A few months ago, one such friend excitedly messaged me that a band she absolutely loved had regrouped and was starting to play gigs in town. That band  was The Big Pink. The band’s founding member, Milo Cordell, left the band to run a small record label, while the band’s frontman, Robbie Furze, recruited his wife, Mary Charteris, to add additional vocals and keyboards. Earlier this year, the band released a four song EP titled Empire Underground; a beautifully lush sampling of the dark, rock sounds that carefully balances fuzzy guitars and electronic, synth elements. Needless to say, my interest in the band was piqued.

My friend kept urging me to see them live, but for one reason or another, life wouldn’t make it happen. I missed out on all of their residency gigs at The Echo … I missed out on The Kills shows at The Mayan and OC Observatory where they were the opening act … Thankfully, my friend put me on to a late, Thursday night gig at the intimate, seemingly make-shift, venue Non Plus Ultra. Though I’m typically not inclined to drive out for an hour to catch a late night set on a weekday, I made an exception in this instant.

Close to midnight, the band took the stage amidst a cloud of machine generated fog. The dancing spotlights and digital projections gave the room a eerie, spiritual atmosphere as the spectators gathered around the performance area or found a seat on the upstairs walkway, dangling their feet from the path.

As soon as the music started, bodies began to sway to the undulating rhythms of the melodies washed in the fuzzy guitar riffs that Robbie played. It was a sensual experience, heightened by the playful, marital exchanges between Robbie and Mary when the two intimately shared a single microphone to sing harmonies on certain songs. If ever there was an example of the passion of a relationship physically and sonically manifested through music, the moments of that evening surely qualify as Exhibit “A”.

The band’s performance was polished, professional and sonically on point. They played songs from their latest EP, a couple of songs from their older repertoire and, if my memory serves me right, a new song that I assumed would be on their forthcoming full length album which is currently in the works (expected to be released in October). In light of Prince’s then recent passing, the band closed their set with a cover “Purple Rain”.

If there was one thing that I had to take away from that evening’s performance, it was that I had experienced a superbly intimate performance in uniquely intimate venue. It was a live-music experience that not only made me appreciate making the hour long drive to the venue to catch the midnight performance, but also made me ache to see them perform again. I, for one, can’t wait until their new album is finished. In the meantime, I’m crossing my fingers that they schedule some more gigs in L.A. leading up to its release. October can’t come soon enough.

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