THE EELS COMPETE WITH GAME OF THRONES AT THE THEATER AT ACE HOTEL The Grit & Gravel Of Mark Everett Imbues The Ace With The Sublime
LOS ANGELES, CA- Since 1995, The Eels have fashioned some of the most eclectic, emotional, poetic, gutsy, and entertaining alt-indie rock this side of anyone’s emotional melt down and their music has personally gotten me through some hard times.
Lead singer Mark Everett, known by his stage name “E”, has written textured and expressive lyrics for nearly every type of emotional state – from giddy and playful to down-right down-in-the-dumps and it’s this pantheon of message and style that makes The Eels iconic among fellow musicians and fans alike.
The Theater at Ace Hotel is an elaborate Spanish Gothic style concert hall located in Downtown Los Angeles and its historic 1920s mise en scene is a perfect setting for a band that has amassed around 30 albums including appearances on the soundtracks for films including American Beauty, Yes Man, Shrek 2, and The Ice Harvest. It makes sense since much of their sounds can go from graphic and loose to pristine and cinematic. Anyone who has listened to the demure and haunting album The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett is at least someone acquainted with the diverse palette of The Eels.
The lights dim and Bill Conti’s famous “Gonna Fly Now” [a.k.a The Rocky Theme] introduces the band. They take the stage with E blowing an air horn, and as much I am excited to hear their original tracks, The Eels open with “Out in the Street” by The Who followed by Prince’s “Raspberry Beret”. Based on my minimal experience seeing them live, I pick up on how much surprise is just as important to them as performing the songs they’re known for – and I like it.
The one thing I don’t like is how empty the theater is. It’s not barren by any stretch of the imagination, but I am surprised at the number of empty seats. When I saw them last year at The Fonda, it was packed. This isn’t lost on E who jokes with the crowd about how it’s Mother’s Day and they’re competing with one of the final episodes of a certain HBO show known for its dragons and White Walkers.
After introducing the band, he quips, “It’s a room full of badasses who don’t give a fuck about Mother’s Day or Game of Thrones!” Then the band plays to the room as if it were Madison Square Garden.
Dressed in a buttoned up denim jacket, fedora, sun glasses, and a chain wallet, E rips into “Dog Faced Boy” followed by “Fly Swatter”. There’s enough grit and gravel in his voice which is one of the reasons I’m drawn to this particular sound. It’s a combination of sublime sadness and enthusiastic hopefulness.
Of course, the tone goes from impulsive and raw to wonderfully depressing when E performs a gut-wrenching rendition of “I’m Going to Stop Pretending That I Didn’t Break Your Heart” off of the 2005 record Blinking Lights and Other Revelations.
If anything, The Eels music is confessional and brave. It’s about coming clean – sometimes admitting anger, sometimes admitting confusion, and always admitting when one has done wrong and hopefully learned from it.
If you didn’t get a chance to see The Eels perform state side, their tour continues in Europe with dates in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria, France, and The UK. See their tour schedule at: www.eelstheband.com