Together Pangea Party It Up In Highland Park With Small Wigs, Fat Tony & French Vanilla THOUGHTS+PHOTOS: Together Pangea @ HP Ebell Club 5/17/18
HIGHLAND PARK, CA- Together PANGEA is a band that has become synonomous with the Los Angeles garage rock scene. From their explosive release in 2011 with Living Dummy to their follow up Badillac in 2014, they have asserted themselves as one of the dominant rock bands in Southern California. It’s a band that I’ve been following since the night they opened up for FIDLAR in 2012 in a tiny 300 capacity venue in Santa Ana (back then they were still called “Pangea”) and they have never disappointed me; both live and in the studio. This time around it seems that together PANGEA wanted to shy away from their frenzied party punk sound with their latest release Bull and Roosters, which came out in late 2017. While their “sound” may be vastly different on this record, it doesn’t deviate from the raw energy that fans have come to expect.
Following the official tour for Bull and Roosters, the band announced a string of shows with fellow LA rockers, No Parents. Kicking off this mini tour was a hometown show in Highland Park with French Vanilla , Fat Tony, and Small Wigs (Members of FIDLAR) with a DJ set from Zoe of No Parents in between bands. As this wasn’t an album release show or even necessarily part of a tour supporting new music, I went in expecting this show to have more of a “party” vibe and I think I hit the nail on the head. I arrived as soon as doors opened and I could already see Zoe up in the DJ booth spinning 2000’s rock classics before the first band, French Vanilla, took the stage.
First off; French Vanilla is just as much performance art as it is a rock band. The bio on their Spotify page labels the band as art-punk that knows how to rock a dance floor and that most certainly held true. The sun was still out when French Vanilla started playing but the room was already grooving and having a good time. It’s rare that an opening band gets me dancing this early in the evening but French Vanilla are hard to deny. Sally Spitz (vocals) dominates the stage with her dancing and lyrics that carry both political and femme messages. Daniel Trautfield shreds on the sax while still keeping up with Spitz in his stage presence while Ali Day grooves along on bass. I picked up a bit of a B-52’s energy and I was vibing heavily with it. Especially with their closer, “Carrie”
Following French Vanilla was Fat Tony, an act that was a bit unorthodox for a rock show, but was fun nonetheless. Fat Tony wasn’t the first hip hop artist i’ve seen at a rock show, but he was the first one to do covers during his performance. He peppered in a few songs by Ramones during his set which was met with a positive, yet goofy, reception from the crowd. During “Blitzkrieg Bop”, Tony pulled a member of the audience onto the stage with him to sing along and dance.
After Fat Tony played his set, Small Wigs were up next. The band consists of Mikki Itzigsohn (bass, vocals), Matt Zuk (guitar), and the brothers Max (drums) and Elvis Kuehn, who are also a part of the LA rock band FIDLAR. The side project was formed as a way for Elvis to take a break from his main band, as he stated in a previous interview. It’s even in the name. Sometimes you just have try a new wig on even if it happens to be a smaller one.
The crowd was back into rock mode as Small Wigs tore it up on stage. Their set was filled with both headbangers that had Max and Matt coming down on their instruments with such explosive force but also had songs such as “Hangdog” which had a more dance friendly tempo to it. As soon as the drums picked up here the pit broke out sending the crowd out into every direction. The energy in the room didn’t slow down until their final song “New Wig”.
Before together PANGEA took the stage, the crowd had slowly starting inching their way towards the front once Small Wigs had finished their set. The slightly spacious elbow room me and my friends had while we were up front was quickly squished away as we were packed up like sardines against the stage.
The band opened up with “Better Find Out”, one of the singles off the latest album and right away the crowd behind me surged forward with such force that us in the front row couldn’t do much but sing along and hang on for dear life. As if allowing us to catch our breaths, the band took a second to properly say hello before breaking out into “Looked In Too”, a song with even more speed and ferocity than the opener.
I had managed to dodge a few stage divers but I became careless with my footing while trying to get a decent shot amidst the chaos and wasn’t able to withstand the weight of the crowd surfer than had landed on my face. I caught him and stumbled back a few steps before the mosh pit took us both down. How all my camera gear managed to come out of that without a scratch is beyond me, but I certainly don’t have any regrets.
While it was great to see the band rip through tracks from their entire discography, including “Blood, Blood, Blood”, a song from a 2010 release that rarely appears in live sets, I was disappointed that the setlist didn’t include the songs off the latest record that deviated the most from the sound veteran fans are used to. I was looking forward to hearing “Stare At The Sun” or “Friend Of Nothing” which dial the attitude back a bit and feature more pop friendly guitars. But like I said before, this show wasn’t really meant to showcase their latest release. together PANGEA just rounded up some of LA’s finest in punk rock and threw a kickass party