Taleen Kali Is Looking Good at 100 (Shows) h/t @NoteFromVivace For The Clever Title
LOS ANGELES, CA- You think you know the meaning of the word “hustle”? You probably haven’t met Taleen Kali yet. Formerly a member of the riotgaze band TÜLIPS, she stepped out with her solo project last summer and has been hustling ever since to the tune of 100 shows performed. Think about that. 100 shows in about 550 days. That’s like 3 shows every 2 weeks. That’s on top of whatever day job you’ve got. That’s on top organizing with your band logistics (transport, gear… whether your bandmates will actually be available for those gigs) and rehearsals for each those shows. 100 show in about a year and a half. Now, that’s some hustle.
But that’s what Taleen has been able to accomplish and Blurred Culture was able to finally catch a performance, her 100th, at the House of Machines, and there to celebrate in the occasion were fans, friends (I spied a couple of The Paranoyds in the house), The Groans, New American and The Knitts.
Kicking off the evening of music was the punk trio The Groans. They are a 3 piece queer punk/punk whose music has been described “[p]ersonal/political punk […] with super poignant and inspiring songs”, and having streamed their 2019 LP Earth Dweller a handful of times, I wholeheartedly agree. I would also add that their music is especially self-empowering/affirming like good punk music is supposed to do. They’ve kind of got an IDLES vibe about them when they intensely shout positive lyrics like “A paycheck does not determine my worth” (“Earth Dweller”), “Oh it just begun, but now I can see that I’m all the strength that I need” (“Colors”).
The Groans’ lead singer, Annie Padilla, was a treat to watch perform. This petite, young woman has a fierceness that consumes her when she’s singing. That intensity glazes over her eyes and can make even the most butch male a little nervous. It’s a testament to how fully invested she in the subject matter that she’s singing about. It’s 100% believable, 100% authentic and 100% badass.
Queer Punk has got some new ambassadors, and I have a feeling that they’ll be stirring the pot up something special in the future.
The next band up was quite a departure from The Groans queer punk, but the blues/jam band sonics of New American certainly did not disappoint.
New American are Alex Mendez (Drums), Jonny Strang (Guitar/ Vocals), Chris Pleasant (Lead Guitar) and Karim Bedran (Bass Guitar) and they are based out of Downey CA and these guys sure can jam. I love how they seemed to meld various musical styles into a style all their own. There’s definitely a strong blues element throughout their music, especially in the vocal melody, but it’s when they incorporate speckles of funk and other musical flavors into their compositions that their songs really reel you in. That funky opening bassline of “The Garden”? Fuggedaboutit. That had me at, “Hello.”
This band has been releasing music since 2013, but this was the first time I’d heard of them. Hopefully, I’ll keep hearing about them into the new year.
The Knitts is another band that I had heard a lot about but hadn’t yet seen live until tonight. In fact, I remember when their 2017 album Retreat was released, and I reacclimated myself with their music before the show. Damn… that was a solid album. The Knitts’ Retreat is a raw garage punk/punk revival that’s familiar yet also a breath of fresh air. Kinda like what The Strokes brought to music’s table with Is This It back in 2001.
Their House Of Machines gig was just as exciting as their music. Their lead singer, Justin Volkens, has a cool, calm swag about him as he sings his lyrics with a confident self-assurance. Their bassist, Jaime “Jimmy” Luque, seemed to be possessed as the thumped out basslines. With their fans in the audience, mostly female I gathered- who all seemed to slide up to the front- they played to the crowd and kept the energy level high and positive.
Having played a handful of gigs throughout 2019, I can only assume that they are in the process of writing and/or recording new music to be released in 2020. Here’s hoping that there are more gigs to follow.
Taleen closed out the evening with a rocking 8 song set of her repertoire. With this being her 100th show, the performance was polished and prepped, and each of her bandmates seems to share the same communal musical mind on stage. The only “breaks” occurred when she expressed her deepest gratitude for all those in attendance for sharing the occasion with her, and also to acknowledge her cousin’s birthday by having her come up to the stage to play guitar on a song, who was accompanied by a friend wearing a Santa Cap to spread some of the holiday cheer.
What made this performance particularly enjoyable was the palpable joy that Taleen had throughout the evening. Sure … it could have been the cheer of the holiday season … sure, it was expected that there was going to be a sense of anticipation and excitement in achieving such a personally significant milestone …but when that joy and can actually be felt in a room … that’s the magic pixie dust that makes the occasion and performances like this a little something extra.
Hopefully, Taleen has a new benchmark in mind. Another hundred shows? Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to see her perform again before number 200 comes around
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