KCRW’s Masquerade Ball Was Spooky, Sexy and Lit At The Los Angeles Theatre Performances by Santigold, White Denim and Lucent Dossier Highlight KCRW's Annual Masquerade Ball
LOS ANGELES, CA- KCRW really went all out for this year’s event. With three stages of live entertainment, and gorgeous architecture/art installations and to take selfies around, there was plenty to do when you weren’t sipping on a libation and staring in awe at some of the intricate costumes on display.
KCRW’s DJs did a lot of the heavy lifting in the Dime Museum, spinning back to back sets all through the night. The body heat was particularly noticeable as you walked past the room’s entrance. I kinda felt bad for all of the beautiful make up jobs that would wind up on the floor in a pool of sweat.
If you needed to escape the overwhelming heat of the dancers in the Dime Museum, just outside was the “Parlor Of Eccentricities” where where the Lucent Dossier Experience put on a series of performances to leave you mesmerized … however, if you stood too close to certain of the performances, the odds of you sweating through your costume was entirely possible.
While I only had the opportunity to catch a handful of performances at the Parlor Of Eccentricities, the ones that I did catch that were particularly captivating were the acts that involved fire. As the agile players of the performance troupe lithely danced around the stage with balls of fire, it was easy to get lost in the trails of flames flowed from their hands. It was like a scaled down version of a Cirque du Soleil production, but still consisted of enough danger and theatrics to make you hold your breath.
The short bursts of theatrics provided by Lucent Dossier Experience throughout the night gave the evening a special flare … literally … that made the event’s festivities particularly unique.
But the the main focus of this year’s Masquerade Ball was the musical lineup that KCRW was able to put together for the event. While we were unable to stick around for Reggie Watts and John Tejada’s Wajatta performance, we were able to enjoy all of the “main stage” acts that preceded them.
Shannon Shaw has a busy 2018. As Shannon and the Clams, she released their latest album, Onion, in February and had been touring relentlessly with Dan Auerbach (who also produced the album) on his Easy Eye Sound Review throughout the year. But not one to rest on her laurels, she subsequently released a new solo album, Shannon In Nashville, on June 8th.
Shannon In Nashville, in my humble opinion, is a revelation. Where Onion was “rough around the edges rocking”, Shannon In Nashville is lush and sophisticated. Also produced by Dan Auerbach, Shannon In Nashville seeks to match Shannon’s huge voice with an equally large backing band, and the end result is a new musical side of Shannon that reveals her musical dexterity.
Shannon took the stage accompanied by an ensemble of players to recreate the sophisticated sound of Shannon In Nashville. When the trio of background singers were on stage singing in harmony with Shannon, there were up to 9 bandmates playing with Shannon, and that live sound was glorious. A powerful voice like Shannon’s is complimented exquisitely by an equally powerful backing band. I love Shannon and the Clams, but I certainly don’t mind her striking out on her own if she does it in grand fashion like this.
The L.A. based rock band Cherry Glazerr made some noise back in 2014 with their album Haxel Princess, a very solid garage punk effort. But since that album, the band underwent some changes and polished its sound for their third album Apocalipstick.
I really enjoyed Apocalipstick. Some critics have suggested that it could have been more, but I’m in line with those reviews that have focused on its positives calling it Cherry Glazerr’s “fiercest recording yet … [with] self-aware swagger” (Pitchfork). I think the band’s performance here highlighted those positives.
Clementine Creevy, the lone and founding member of the original incarnation of Cherry Glazerr, was dressed as an angel, but she performed like a possessed banshee. She emanated an IDGAF attitude on stage; confident and yet breezy. Her bandmates (Tabor Allen on drums and Devin O’Brien on bass) seemed to share Clementine’s aura and together they rocked the Los Angeles Theatre stage nice and rowdy, getting fans up in the front riled up. While no mosh pit materialized, you could sense that had the set been just a few songs longer, and people weren’t dressed in exquisite costumes, there would have been a nice little circle pit on the floor.
With a new album in the works, Stuffed & Ready, which is scheduled for release in early 2019, keep an eye out for more Cherry Glazerr gigs to be announced soon.
If you want to get a party started, book White Denim to play a set. This Austin, Texas based band with core members James Petralli (vocals, guitars) and Steve Terebecki (bass), bring a musical stew of punk, funk, psychedelia and garage to the stage, and jam like there’s no tomorrow.
Having just released their ninth studio album Performance in August, White Denim’s sound is as polished and clean as ever. While James is perfectly solid on vocals, the focus of White Denim is the unrelenting musicality of each of the players and they way in which they feed off one another in a live setting. Their rhythmic dynamism in particular is second to none.
Though dressed like they were all heading out to a prom in the early 80s, the sonic qualities of their performance, thought rooted in “classic” themes of funk, psych and punk, seemed to come from the future. It was a groove that everyone in the room willingly fell into and had even the most stalwart wall flowers nodding their heads to every downbeat.
Concluding Blurred Culture’s evening at KCRW’s Masquerade Ball (again, we were unable stick around for Wajatta’s performance) was the multi-genre recording artist Santigold performing a DJ set.
I’ve been an admirer of Santigold and her music ever since I got my hands on her gold glitter decorated, self titled, debut studio album. Her sonics have always straddled varying musical genres, but rooted in Afro-Caribbean music. Her latest effort, I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions, pushes the limits of Dancehall and is a fantastically fun listen.
After I heard her recent KCRW Morning Become Eclectic interview where she talks about the music she grew up with and loves, my interest to see and hear her spin records piqued. She spoke lovingly about Joni Mitchell, Sister Nancy, The Misfits, Bauhaus … if you need an easy way into my heart, all you gotta do is exhibit the kind of love for all types of music that Santigold has. Her taste in music explains her adventurous nature in crafting and creating music.
While I can’t recall the exact songs that Santigold spun for her set- I’ll be honest, after my time in the photo pit, I just zoned out and enjoyed the music- I remember how seamless her transitions seemed, from one genre to the next and how Santigold was able to create a fantastic mood that induced dancing and the occasional call and responses; traits that and DJ should aspire for.
With all of the amazing costumes, beautiful location and amazing entertainment, there was no better way to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve than with KCRW at their annual Masquerade Ball. Always in high demand, there’s certainly no doubt that next year’s festivities will be just as, if not grander, than what was offered this year.