by: Grant Brennan
"Yeah dude I love Ladytron."
That night, Khang and I, completely unawares as to what we were getting ourselves into, left Orange County for the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. As usual with "rockstars" the band's manager seemed like he didn’t want the band to be bothered. After speaking with him and dispelling fears of a long and laborious interview session, he agreed that we could go on with the interview and got us into the venue with no further questions asked.
There was a feeling of success. But now what? We waited. After watching the band sound check and getting to hear their songs, long before the concert hall was literally packed with people (the concert was completely sold out) we got down to the interview. The band was friendly and didn't seem at all tired from the Desert Sun's relentless gaze.
The show wasn't a long one packed with an assortment of bands. It consisted of only two, Ladytron and their opener Great Northern. Since we were in the concert hall and no one had checked our identification (did we even have any?), Khang and myself decided it better to stay put and remain inside the rest of the night. Great Northern's sound check had to be one of the most boring experiences I've had in the past few months. They were completely amateur at dialing in their sound. When asked to test the vocal mic, the male singer degenerated into a long winded a cappella solo. All together we sat and watched them test their sound for maybe an hour or more. People stood outside nervously wondering what was taking so long.
By the time the doors opened and Great Northern had started playing, people were anxious to see Ladytron. The audience generally supported the opener, whose songs sounded like a melodramatic, emo version of the Beatles. They had the emo hair cuts. The cute girls harmonized, not only by voice but also by piano, funny shakers not used in "traditional" rock bands, dressed in suits minus the jackets. To many they were a good
band, at least that’s what I was able to infer from conversations with the people who were standing outside smoking cigarettes during their set. I agree they were a good opening band but to me they were boring and drawn out, leaving a big hole in atmosphere for the evening to be filled by Ladytron.
By this time I had made some new friends. One who was named after a famous firebombing incident in Germany during WW2 and another who casually made fun of the old ladies who want a front seat at the Nordstrom's fashion show. "It’s like QVC! Only it’s in real life!" A worthy distraction indeed.
The atmosphere turned though once Ladytron took the stage. They had a video projector showing footage of random things like an eroded face or waves crashing. It helped set the mood in a big way and provided the listener with something to focus their attention on idly as they stood on stage and pressed buttons to make noise. The audience loved it and every song was met with a warm round of applause and noise.
Tastefully the band didn't play their hit song "Destroy everything you touch" until near the end of their set. Instead they focused on older songs from all of their older albums. Being a fan of the 604 release I was able to recognize a few tunes that made me quite happy to hear. The set was a crowd pleaser. They knew which of their songs were good and needed to be played. Consequently, they knew what their audience wanted to hear and played all that was to be expected.
On stage though, besides interesting video and a tasteful playlist, the band doesn't move very much. Most attention is focused on the two girls up front and the drummer. The rest of the band stood so far back on the stage you'd think they weren't really a part of the sound only contributing to the music indirectly. The band definitely came on stage to play music and not to dabble in performance art. Good thing they were genuine enough to get away with it.