She Wants Revenge (w/ Nico Vega 05/23/11)

Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

Words/Photos by God Frank

About 5 years ago I was in a bar and saw the music video for These Things by She Wants Revenge. I’m not ashamed to say that I absolutely loved it and after streaming a couple more songs off their self-titled debut album I ran to Best Buy to add the disc to my collection. I’ve been a fan ever since even buying their sophomore release This is Forever without hearing even one track first. Okay, so what if they sound A LOT like Depeche Mode, but I like Depeche Mode! When I found out they were playing a show at the Roxy  I was very excite to get to see them live. I was even more excited to get tickets for free from a local radio station. So with a friend from work in tow I made the Monday trek to the Sunset Strip to see them celebrate the release of their third CD Valleyheart which was released the same day.

Opening for She Wants Revenge was the indie rock trio Nico Vega. When I found out late last week that they were the opening act I checked out a couple of their videos online. My response was pretty much “meh.” Two songs into their set “meh” turned into “bleh!” As the set continued however I started warming up to them. Consisting of only Rich Koehler on guitar, Dan Epand on drums and Aja Volkman on vocals they come off as a pseudo White Stripes with a dedicated singer.

Easily my favorite of the three was Dan Epand who while banging the drums really puts the spaz in spastic, and I mean that in a good way. Pounding out some pretty strong beats the mop haired monster really puts his whole body into it. Looking like a human version of Animal from the Electric Mayhem band on the Muppet Show, he was pretty entertaining to watch and a pretty damned good drummer too. During a song early in the set he got so into it that he literally knocked over a couple pieces of his drum set which had to be put back together before starting the next song. I probably shouldn’t have, but I got a kick out of that.

Rich Koehler was pretty good on guitar but a couple of times he seemed a little out of sync and out of tune. Aja Volkman was very inconsistent and at times was really good only to be pretty bad on the following song. My main issue with her was that all too often she seemed to be screaming the lyrics as opposed to singing them. With a little more experience and restraint however I could see her getting better and the band taking off.

In addition to vocals Aja does have some drumming ability in her as well. A few songs into the (let’s say) 50 minute set she joined Dan behind the drums and they both banged away in what was for me the highlight of their portion of the show. I’ll admit I don’t know any of their music, so I won’t be able to name any individual songs by Nico Vega but I can say I actually kind of enjoyed their uptempo stuff significantly more than the slower songs. I can’t say that I would ever go out of my way to watch them again, but if they were opening for another band that I wanted to see I would make sure to catch their set to see if they get better.

After a short break it was time for the main act to take the stage. As mentioned earlier this was the special release show for their new CD which dropped the same day. In a way that is kinda cool, but in another way it kinda sucks. Obviously the band wants to promote the new release, but very few people in the crowd have actually had the opportunity to hear any of the new songs except for the possibly the first single for which the video has been streaming on their website for a couple of weeks.

The band mitigated this by alternating between a new song and a song from one of the first two CDs. In doing this the show flowed quite well giving the fans such favorites as “These Things” and “True Romance” while also introducing us to the newer jams “Kiss Me” and “Reasons” amongst the others.

After bouncing back and forth between old and new songs for about an hour everyone left the stage for a moment while Adam 12 (Bravin) stood alone on stage playing the solemnly melodic “Disconnect” from their debut album. When the song was done Justin Warfield and the others (I’m assuming Scott Ellis and Thomas Froggatt although that was never confirmed) rejoined Adam on stage and Justin informed the crowd that they wanted to do something special that night and they performed a stripped down almost (but not quite) acoustic version of technically their biggest hit “Tear You Apart.” While the crowd seemed to dig it, I was a little disappointed. It just didn’t sound quite right to me. I did appreciate the effort in changing things up a little bit.

After tear you apart they played the current single from their new CD, a track called “Must Be the One.” It’s a solid track, but I would have released “Up in Flames” first myself, but that’s just me.

Earlier in the night Justin asked how many people in the club were seeing them live for the first time. To my surprise about half of the hands in the club went up. Knowing that half the people there hadn’t seen them before, Justin now addressed the crowd to inform us that they do not do the typical, save your best songs for a planned encore and do a fake walk off the stage. They out it all out there with their main set and play until they are done. I don’t know about anyone else I really appreciated that. I am quite tired of the planned encore that everyone does these days and it was nice knowing that when the show was over, it was over.

So announcing that they only had two songs left they went back to their first album for “Red Flags and Long Nights”. When the song ended Adam began to announce their last song only by saying that it was the song they always end with, but before he could finish Justin interrupted him and the band huddled for an extra unplanned song. I know it was from their first disc, but honestly at the moment I can’t remember the name of the song.

Then it was onto their actual last song, which turned out to be favorite song of theirs. Asking everyone to sing along and dance they brought the house down with “Out of Control.” Even though it’s not their biggest hit from a sales stand point and I don’t even think they ever made a video for it, it was hands down the biggest song of the night with the capacity (maybe even over capacity) crowd singing along and dancing as much as they could in a room that had everyone jam packed like sardines.

Heading out into the cool night air everyone was very satisfied and while I was dreading a long Tuesday at work with very little sleep I didn’t regret the late night in anyway (except for maybe the ridiculous parking ticket I got).

BTW, sorry for the weak pictures, I forgot my camera at home and couldn’t get close enough to stage to get better pictures with my phone.

God Frank
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