A HOMECOMING PARTY, LA’S FEELS CELEBRATE RELEASE OF NEW EP
LOS ANGELES, CA- After the heart-wrenching departure of guitarist/vocalist Shannan Lay from the Los Angeles band FEELS in November 2019, the band stepped back into the studio with their newest member Cole Berliner of Kamikaze Palm Tree to record their latest ep Subversive Reaction in March of 2020. The 3 song ep touches on themes such as climate change, the true meaning of “connection” and a sense of impending doom that was first present in their 2019 sophomore release Post Earth. As much as those tracks and their lyrics were relevant at the time of their creation, the impact they leave on the listener had taken on a more literal sense by the time the record was released.
Fast-forwarding to the summer of 2021, as we’re stepping out of quarantine and back into what we used to call “normal”, live music is making its comeback and FEELS wasn’t about to be left out. With support from friends Vaguess (a last-second addition when one opener had to drop out) and Oog Bogo, the band held their first show in over 16 months at The Echo, a venue I was very excited to get back to. Immediately upon entering the building, I noticed the renovations the venue had done. There was a new mural covering a large portion of the wall on the right, new standing tables had been placed in the center of the room (which would later be pushed aside by the eager folks looking to dance at a show again), the lighting had been upgraded and a new lounging area had been installed near the back. One of my favorite venues in LA had gotten a slight facelift and it was only furthering my excitement for the evening.
Familiar faces donning masks began trickling in as the night went on and that familiar feeling of connection amongst fellow music lovers began creeping in. Hanging in the patio, catching up with old friends, we hear the in-between set music die down followed by cheering, signaling that FEELS had finally returned to the stage.
I must admit, I’ve been a fan of the band since 2016 and have always had great admiration for what Shannon Lay had brought to the mix. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from newest member Cole Berliner as I hadn’t heard his other project, Kamikaze Palm Tree, but I’m happy to report that he’s not only filling the gaping hole that Shannon left behind but is also adding an almost “Sonic Youth” like flavor to the blend that’s injecting new vigor into their music. Of the three songs on the new EP, my personal favorite might have to be “Trash Island”, a song whose lyrics paint a cartoonish exaggeration of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the massive patch of garbage floating in the North Pacific Ocean that has grown to nearly 1.6 million square kilometers (or over twice the size of Texas), and speaks about society’s current obsession with plastic both literally and figuratively.
Mixed in with the other tracks off of the new ep were the mainstays of FEELS shows. “Unicorn” was brought in early during the set to get the blood pumping and promptly sent the crowd behind me into a pit. “Post Earth” hugged us warmly with its headbanging inducing riffs and drums. “Tell me” had everyone swaying along to its groovy bassline and vocals before it quickly grew to a crescendo of crunchy guitars, crashing drums, and energy that sent goosebumps running up my arms and down my back while simultaneously slapping the goofiest smile onto my face.
While in some aspect, this night at The Echo felt just like that, another fun night at The Echo; but on this particular evening, it was more than that. I’ve been to ep/album release shows and I’ve been to end-of-tour shows in the band’s hometown … but this gig had something else in the air. We had gotten through a global pandemic. We had shut ourselves in for more than a year and deprived ourselves of the sense of physical community that live music provides. It left me wondering if FEELS had written the lyrics of this EP knowing what the future had in store for us. Before leaving and saying bye to some friends, I picked up one of the special, limited art pressings of the new vinyl. The message on the back of the sleeve reads: “Recorded on the eve of the 2020 global pandemic, it heaves with sentiments of isolation and frustration that find themselves increasingly omnipresent today. In a system that promotes divisiveness, we yearn for connection in the face of impending doom. We grab life by the horns. In a plastic world, disposable is eternal. Know that you are not alone, and engage in a truly subversive reaction.”
Subversive Reaction was released on July 22nd, 2021 via art publishers Deemed Printable