Beginners Cap Off A Killer Line-Up At Out Of Mind Fest Check Out All Of The Galleries with Stevi Daft, Paper Citizen, VAVÁ, Spare Parts For Broken Hearts & Ramonda Hammer
LOS ANGELES, CA- On April 23, 2022, Motion Creative and Gay Asstrology curated and produced its third iteration of Out Of Mind Fest at The Echo. The event was a celebration of the LGBTQ community and featured a killer lineup of amazing musical acts and various local LGBTQ vendors from The Queer Mercado. Before the music started, and to warm up the crowd that was settling into the venue when doors opened at 6pm, Kimber Springs and Lilly Brown kicked things off with a live comedy podcast.
The first person to sing on stage looked really familiar to me … I just figured that Stevi Daft was someone I had seen at a random show over the years. When I started to dig around the internet after the event, I discovered that Stevi reads tarot cards. That was it! She actually did a reading for me at the now-shuttered Hi-Hat a few years ago! I knew she looked familiar! lol.
Well… Stevi not only knows how to read tarot cards, but she can also rock a mic as well. Her sound gives me some real solid classic-rock vibes. A bit of Janis. A bit of Grace Slick. She kind of overflowed with that kind of classic, confident attitude. That confidence captured my attention from the get-go when she performed her song “Never Better”. She got down and dirty with the thumping bassline, whipping her hair to the beat, then staring into the audience as she assured us that she was “never better”. An impressive first impression.
The next act really caught me by surprise. Paper Citizen is an LA-based band founded by Claire Gohst. Originally from Singapore, moved to Boston to American study before relocating to Los Angeles. Good thing for Los Angeles… this one’s a keeper.
On the vocal front, I was very partial to Claire’s soprano voice. There’s a real pristine quality to the tone and timbre of her voice. There’s even a seamless transition when she flips from her chest voice to her head voice. There’s even something calming about her vibrato. Can you fall in love with a voice? I think I just did.
Her music also impressed me. In the “about” section on Paper Citizen’s website, she describes the music as drawing from “pop-rock influences in the early 2000s, with heartfelt lyrics, organic sounds and lush arrangements that carry its hauntingly beautiful melodies.” I can’t argue with that. If I were to fathom a couple of guesses, maybe those early 2000s pop-rock influences include The Shins maybe? Black Keys? Teddy Geiger even?
Whatever her influences, I can confidently say that Clair and Paper Citizen have influenced me to give them a follow to and to keep an eye out for what comes next for them.
I remember the first time I saw VAVÁ perform live. It was at the now-shuttered Bootleg Theater, and I was gobsmacked by her and her music. She’s a storyteller whose soul-searching stories are adorned with the mellifluous notes of her ever-improving mastery of the guitar.
While I love her recorded music, there’s a real, palpable vulnerability in her music when she performs her music live. Your heart will break- in a good way- when it is just her and her guitar and you hear her pour her soul out for the world to see/hear. In fact, I’m amazed at how VAVÁ is able to keep it together herself when she performs those songs live. When she performed “The Other Side”, my eyes may have gotten a tad misty, and I have may have caught my breath a couple of times.
For the final two songs of her set, VAVÁ had vocalist and collaborator, Jackie Lipson join her on stage to perform songs that they had co-written during the pandemic. Jackie’s harmonies perfectly complimented VAVÁ’s melody, verified by the smattering of “yeahs” that came from the crowd when that first harmony hit.
Two bands that I have been championing since I started working for Blurred Culture were up next. The first to take the stage was Spare Parts for Broken Hearts. Their six-song set consisted of “Dirty Milk”, “Big Win”, “Cold Wave”, a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” (which they playfully titled “Wicked Vein” on their setlist), “Pleasure Chest” and, my personal favorite, “Ever”.
Sarah, Jonny, and their new (to me) drummer, Forrest Akin, brought that heavy good-good into The Echo. While Sarah may have been all smiles between songs, glowing about how good it was to be performing at The Echo for the first time since the pandemic, the music rocked as hard and dirty as ever. They even gave “Wicked Game” the “heavy” treatment with Sarah growly out the chorus,
I’m eagerly waiting for more new jams from SP4BH’s, and I’ll be at the edge of my seat until I get it all in my grubby hands. Until then, headbanging at their gigs will have to do.
The second band I’ve been a die-hard forever for is Ramonda Hammer, and they took the stage next. Ramonda Hammer kept that hard-rocking rolling with their 8 song which included “Destroyers”, “Hoax”, “Better View”, “Who’s The Narcissist?”, “The Man Who Sold The World”, “Big Hands”, “Everlasting Love” and “All For What”.
There’s nothing that gave me more of a sense of things getting back to normal than watching Andy (bass) and Justin (guitar) lose their minds as they jammed out to each song they performed in a dark, sweaty club. I had caught Ramonda Hammer performing at an outdoor gig once the pandemic restrictions had been lifted in 2021, but there was something about this performance, on this stage, and seeing those two rock the f*** out at The Echo that made things feel truly “normal”.
Like Spare Parts For Broken Hearts, I’m waiting for new music from this crew as well. The headbanging at their shows will just have to keep on keeping on. I’m totally cool with that.
This was the first time for me catching the band Beginners and their performance was overflowing with energy. Considering that this was Beginners’ first live show since the pandemic, I guess we should have all anticipated how kinetic the performance would be. Fronted by Samantha Barbera, their punk influenced electronic pop would serve as the perfect apertif to the Gay Asstrology dance party that would would follow.
There was so much joy on that stage, you could feel it. Literally. When Samantha wasn’t banging out choreographed numbers on the LED illuminated floor toms … or running across the stage to dance with her bandmates… or trying to shoot funney money into the audience … she was in the audeince, dancing through the crowd, and soaking in the communal love of having live music back at venues.
Their music was new to me, but I enjoyed every beat of it. If you couldn’t get down, groove and pump your first with Beginners in this room, I don’t know what to say other than you probably just don’t have much fun in life. Hopefully, Covid and it’s progeny won’t shut live music down anymore. We need more good vibes. We need more opportunities to lose our collective minds in a dark rooms with loud music and just jam out/headbang/dance wildly with friends.
Thanks for the good times, Out Of Mind Fest.
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