L.A. Music Scene’s House Party Extravaganza: Featuring A Night of The Offbeat Brilliance Of Cheekface Review+Photos: Cheekface, Lilliana Villines and Julez and the Rollerz at L.A. Music Scene's Home Concert 7/29/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- In any community, there are those who simply participate and then there are those who elevate it. Gary Kenny, known to many as @lamusicscene_ on Instagram, is undeniably of the latter category. He embodies the spirit and vibrancy of the local music scene, fostering growth, talent, and innovation through his relentless dedication. As anyone who’s been to one of his home concerts can attest, his passion for local music isn’t just a hobby; it’s a lifeline for up-and-coming artists and a beacon for aficionados of authentic musical experiences.
For many, attending a concert is a periodic event, reserved for weekend excursions or an annual festival. But for Gary, live music is not just an occasional treat; it’s a daily bread. His frequent presence at countless shows is more than just attendance—it’s a testament to his unwavering support for local artists. To the regular concert-goer, the faces on the stage may change, but one thing remains constant: the figure of Gary in the crowd, nodding along to the rhythm, always present, always supporting.
However, it’s his at-home concerts that have become the stuff of legend in the local music community. In a world where music has become increasingly digitized and commercialized, Gary’s initiative stands out as a refreshing return to the roots of live performance. With every iteration, his backyard transforms, bearing witness to more lights, enhanced sound, and most recently, an impressive new stage. These concerts serve as intimate settings where both performers and attendees can revel in the magic of live music, away from the blinding lights and corporate sponsorships of large arenas.
What’s remarkable is that these gatherings aren’t just about music; they’re about community. They offer an avenue for emerging artists to connect directly with their audience, fostering relationships that transcend the typical artist-fan dynamic. For attendees, these events become spaces of discovery, where one might stumble upon their new favorite band or reconnect with a forgotten sound.
Gary’s dedication underscores a crucial truth about music: it’s not just about the notes, chords, or lyrics—it’s about the people behind and in front of them. Local music scenes thrive on the unwavering support of enthusiasts who champion undiscovered talents, creating platforms for them to be heard and appreciated. Without patrons like Gary, many artists might never find their audience, their sound remaining an unheard echo.
His latest at-home concert event featured three very talented act: Lilliana Villines, Julez and the Rollerz, and Cheekface.
Bathed in the dim glow of twilight, the enigmatic Lilliana Villines was the first to command the stage, a symbol of promise for an evening set against the backdrop of a sultry summer’s embrace. Admittedly, until that moment, her name had been a faint murmur in the vast lexicon of contemporary sounds I’d come across. Yet, with the first notes that seeped into the night, it became apparent that this was an oversight soon to be rectified.
Lilliana and her band crafted an ethereal atmosphere, each song cascading like the gentle ebb and flow of a distant ocean tide. There was a lulling charm in her melodies, a siren’s song, drawing everyone into a state of serene entrancement. As the velvety veil of the night descended, her groove seemed to synchronise with the heartbeat of the crowd, creating an almost otherworldly resonance.
Her voice, an exquisite instrument in its own right, floated effortlessly across the crowd. It was as if each note, dipped in honeyed tones, was designed to caress the very souls of those present, enveloping them in a soft, comforting embrace. The synthesis of her sultry timbre and the underlying groove created by her band was nothing short of mesmerising.
In an era saturated with instant-hit wonders and fleeting digital fame, Lilliana Villines emerged as a beacon of genuine artistry, a testament to the timeless allure of music that touches not just the ears but the very essence of one’s being. This night, she wasn’t just another name; she etched an indelible mark on the canvas of contemporary music. An artist to watch, without a doubt.
The rumblings and murmurs surrounding Julez and the Rollerz reached fever pitch in recent months, turning whispers into full-blown anticipation. So when I found myself with a ticket to witness this enigma firsthand, there was a simmering cocktail of excitement and expectation churning within. If the live act bore even a smidge of the dynamism of their latest EP, “Is This Where The Party Is?”, I was certain the night would be monumental. And boy, did they deliver.
The electric atmosphere in the venue bore testament to the fact that the ‘party’ had, indeed, descended right there. Pounding out those signature garage-rock rhythms, the quintet—despite being one member short with the absence of Emi Borjas—proved their mettle. With Joey Ponchetti jumping into the fray as drummer, there was not a beat skipped; rather, the tempo seemed even more frenzied and intoxicating than one could’ve imagined.
Frontwoman Jules Batterman, with her relentless vigour, seemed hell-bent on making the audience lose their inhibitions. Her fervour was magnificently complemented by the robust basslines from Morgyn Payge, the almost eerie synths courtesy of Shea Carothers, and the utterly bewitching guitar riffs laid down by Hannah Hughes.
Their potent fusion of exuberant energy, coupled with Batterman’s uniquely crafty songwriting, was electric. The crowd became a living entity, pulsating to the band’s anthems, headbanging, dancing, and surrendering to the raw force that was battering them from the stage.
When it comes to underground phenomena in the modern music scene, very few can deliver a punch quite like Cheekface. It’s not every day one stumbles upon a band that seamlessly intertwines the quirky sonics of Devo with the rhythmic elegance of Talking Heads. And yet, at a nondescript house party this weekend, that’s precisely the aural treat attendees were served.
From the onset, Cheekface’s signature style was glaringly evident. Their eccentric stage presence, replete with mismatched outfits and off-kilter dance moves, was a spectacle to behold. With every jerky rhythm and every unpredictable chord progression, there was an overarching sense of organized chaos, reminiscent of the golden days of ’80s New Wave.
Lead vocalist Greg Katz’s deadpan deliveries were juxtaposed with the band’s frenetic energy, resulting in a delightful paradox. Each song felt like a journey through a surrealist painting, with moments of stark clarity punctuated by bursts of vibrant confusion. The crowd, initially unsure of how to process this roller-coaster of sounds and visuals, soon found themselves entranced, dancing with wild abandon.
It’s this blend of nostalgia and fresh innovation that makes Cheekface’s sound so alluring. The essence of Devo’s sonic oddities combined with the genius lyrical introspection of Talking Heads created a sonic tapestry that’s both familiar and excitingly new.
In an age where authenticity in music is a rare gem, Cheekface stands out as a beacon of genuine eccentricity. Their performance wasn’t just another house party gig; it was an affirmation that the spirit of quirky alternative rock is alive and kicking.