Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thursday: Beatnik Jr in LA at (sshh) The Hard Rock Café

Because I like to be perverse, I’ve spent more time in Los Angeles going to gigs than I have immersing myself in film. This is because one of my oldest, and most talented friends, Julian Shah-Tayler lives here, and I have been staying in the large rambling clapboard house in Koreatown in which he and several equally talented & charming musicians hole up. (The only drawback is trying to sleep when they are jamming in their rehearsal room at 4am.)
On Thursday night I needed distracting, (I was missing my suite at the Hotel Bel-Air.) Julian’s idea of diversion was the Hard Rock Café. Yup. That would do it.

Frankly I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go to a Hard Rock Café, whether in Hollywood, Hyderabad or Hong Kong, but I was made to drive to Universal City under duress, with JST promising that Beatnik Jr ‘one of the best upcoming bands in LA’ were playing in the LA final of the Hard Rock's Battle of the Bands competition.

I can’t possibly judge them against other LA bands but I can judge them against New York and, maybe, London bands. And they were excellent, head & shoulders above the level of the majority of bands who thrash about idiotically at similar competitions.

They're a four piece, in the slightly experimental rock mould with, in John Maro, a lead singer who also plays keyboards and transforms from polite & personable face to face to gleeful, possibly manic, exuberance within seconds of hitting the stage.

The last time I saw an unsigned band I enjoyed so much were White Rabbits, who I wrote about here & who, incidentally, have their second album, It's Frightening, out on May 16th

Anyway, Beatnik Jr go onto the national round of video judging against 21 other US bands, before judging is thrown open to the public on-line. The winner gets to play at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park. Or Hyde Park, London, as everyone calls it over here.

(I'm afraid my photos of the other members of Beatnik Jr, in the main, have very enthusiastic audience members covering just about every shot.)