The Viper Room – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos/Video by Reverend Justito

USELESS KEYS - 01/08/10: Viper Room - West Hollywood, CA

Often times in Los Angeles, music fans blow off opening acts and only show up for the main event. On the second Friday of 2010, I did the exact opposite. Last summer when I walked in on USELESS KEYS’ set closer at The Roxy, I was so impressed I promised myself I would seek them out again. Not one to break a promise, the Los Angeles-based band’s set at the Viper Room fit perfectly into my schedule on a warm winter night.

USELESS KEYS - 01/08/10: Viper Room - West Hollywood, CA
For 25 minutes, the band backed up what I had assumed after hearing that one song last summer. USELESS KEYS have created a massive sound that would make noise/fuzz/shoe gaze rock forefathers like My Bloody Valentine, Failure and Jawbox proud. Huge walls of rich, melodic distortion penetrate your senses via a three-guitar attack which has left my ears ringing a day later (keep in mind I wore earplugs). Leading the invasion of gnarling guitar goodness is lead axe-man Michael Regilio. With four others creating a dense sonic backdrop, Regilio is the type of player who can pinpoint the perfect pockets of time that need to be sent into overdrive and executes with a perfect mix of simplicity and creativity.

Michael Bauer of USELESS KEYS - 01/08/10: Viper Room - West Hollywood, CA
While Regilio leads the charge of guitars, the band naturally focuses around front man/guitarist Michael Bauer. The lengthy lefty hovers over the microphone stand as his soft haunting vocals perfectly compliment the intense wall of sound being created simultaneously. Bauer does a remarkable job of creating melodies that are dark and moody at one moment, only to be light and poppy the next. “Down Threw” is a perfect example of this, with gloomy verses reminiscent of Tripping Daisy and a his and hers chorus between Bauer and Bassist Guylaine Vivarat.

Guylaine Vivarat of USELESS KEYS - 01/08/10: Viper Room - West Hollywood, CA
Vivarat is indeed the secret weapon. When not anchoring the ship with drummer Rory Modica, she is plucking out warm and melodic runs up the high end of her four strings. These brief journeys, much like Regilio’s, find that perfect pocket that sets USELESS KEYS apart from the countless hipster bands whose verse-chorus-verse format becomes stale by the second or third verse.

USELESS KEYS - 01/08/10: Viper Room - West Hollywood, CA
The club began to fill as the group made their magic upon the tiny stage. It didn’t matter if you were a frat boy, hipster, overweight Taco Bell addict in a Mastodon T-shirt or hard working/influential local disc jockey; USELESS KEYS gave you no choice but to be totally drawn in by their hypnotizing noisefuzzspaceshoegazepoprock songs. I know for a fact I was not the only one disappointed when the journey came to a close all too soon with the well crafted “White Noise”. I finished my beer and returned to my car, off to the next best thing on a Friday night, grateful that I was able to start 2010 with a fresh and solid performance. With a FREE month long residency at The Echo every Monday in February, and a debut E.P. on the horizon, 2010 is off to a solid start for USELESS KEYS.

A direct descendant of the outlaw Jesse James and star of a 1983 Kilpatricks Bread radio commercial, Reverend Justito has taken his gift of ADHD and put it to good use by creating one of a kind concert reviews. A bootlegger at heart, the man lives off Whiskey, Taco Bell and the love of San Francisco sports teams.
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Saturday, January 9th, 2010 at 10:21 pm.
Categories: Reviews.

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