USELESS KEYS/Dax Riggs 09/10/10
Spaceland – Silver Lake, CA
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/Concertconfessions.com
My good pal hit me up a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to see Dax Riggs with her. I will admit this off the bat: I had no idea who Dax Riggs was. Turns out the dude was in an epic but short lived New Orleans sludge metal band called Acid Bath. Of course, I had never heard Acid Bath, but with no plans on that particular Friday night I decided it was time for the headbanging hippie to pay the dickhead nation known as Silver Lake a visit. After all, if I was going to enter Spaceland for the very first time, it may as well be with some dude who used to play heavy metal, right?
A few days after I agreed to attend the show, it was announced that one of my favorite local bands USELESS KEYS would be main support. I stressed to my friends the importance of an on-time arrival, as it had been eight long months since I had seen the KROQ Locals Only favorites. The band hit the stage just past 10:30 pm and used their set to perform copious amounts of new material. Sadly, I don’t know all of the new song titles, but I can tell you that there was not a dull moment or bad song in the mix. Kamikaze is much more upbeat than anything on the band’s Is The Painting Changing EP and manages to mix a dash of surf-rock into the bands soulful shoe-gazing sound. Another new song, Sea Bells, features hard pounding waves of distortion crashing into guitarist, Michael Regilio’s, lead licks, sounding more like a theremin then a guitar.
The thing that stood out most about the KEYS’ set was new bassist Davin Givhan. On his own, he manages to equal out the duel guitar attack of Regilio and guitarist/lead singer Michael Bauer. Yet as a rhythm player, Givhan’s ability to lock in with drummer Rory Modica not only gives Regilio/Bauer a greater canvas to paint over, but truly increases the bands already larger than life sound. To say Givhan has taken USELESS KEYS to the next level is an understatement. The man is a beast and truly a perfect fit.
After a hard rocking cover of What Goes On by The Velvet Underground, the four piece closed their set with their signature song — White Noise. Haunting while hard rocking, the finale managed to take hold of just about everyone in the venue. I am going to assume that many inside the quaint club had not heard USELESS KEYS before this particular Friday night, yet are now very much aware of them. These guys truly get better each time I see them and you really owe it to yourself to check them out if they happen to make it to your town.
Something strange happened to me during the headline set by Dax Riggs. I felt more as if I was at the Peach Pit After Dark instead of a show. I ran into old band mates and then an old co-worker. I was introduced as the dude who writes kick-ass music reviews, and was implored to come see some gal’s second show at some coffee shop on the outskirts of Thai town. I got punched in the ribs by a short Mexican chick simply because I moved up 6 inches when one of her pals went to get drinks. I’m shocked I remember the “You have a Phish shirt on so you have to eat this” challenge, not to mention the plethora of free drinks that comes with a night out with friends both old and new. With that said, it was very had to focus on Dax Riggs.
Having lost the friends I showed up with, I say I was able to enjoy the first 5-6 songs from the main floor. Let Me Be Your Cigarette reminded me a lot of Urge Overkill, which was great because that band was great. I noticed the crowd (which was now packed) was enthralled with Riggs, eyes focused on him and only him. Later in the show, a big highlight was his cover of the Elvis classic Heartbreak Hotel. Sadly this, for me, was enjoyed amidst conversation. I finally found my crew of friends who I attended the show with in time for the set’s final encore. With fans getting on stage and dancing for the final song, the energy level in the club was through the roof. A rocking Friday night for all, indeed.