The Belly Up is definitely one of my favorite venues – great sound, décor and vibes and with a sense of intimacy that is often lost at other, bigger venues. There were just two acts on the lineup for the evening. This can be great because sometimes you want to focus on the acts you came for (and get back home at a reasonable time on those weeknights with work in the morning).
The opener was DWNTWN, a Los Angeles based synth pop band. They played a set of catchy songs that made me tap my feet throughout their set. Had there been another band before them, they definitely could have got the crowd dancing a little bit more with dreamy indie electro songs like “See My Eyes and “Till Tomorrow” but attendees were still warming up for the evening.
I was excited to see El Ten Eleven because they embody some of my favorite elements in music in the form of memorable melodies, dancey beats, technical musicianship, occasional use of odd time signatures, and elements of electronica (via live looping). For these reasons, their performance has been one of my recent favorites and had me bouncing, tapping along and rocking out. Even though the group is made up of the duo as seen above, their sound is very full and that is because of their precision use of live looping. Guitarist/bassist Kristian Dunn utilizes a double neck instrument, switching off between playing, recording and looping the guitar or bass – adding and removing layers throughout the course of the song via his large set of pedals and effects. Sometimes he plays both simultaneously (!), through his use of tapping – a technique that is very prominent and unique to their instrumental post-rock sound. Drummer Tim Fogarty has an impeccable sense of rhythm, keeping up with and enhancing the complexities of their material. Besides his acoustic kit, Tim uses a few electronic pads and drums which add to the dynamics, especially when using big “808” sounding kick drum for song breakdowns. The backdrop lighting was extremely fitting to their performance, minimalist in nature but with maximum results.
Besides the band’s obvious talent, they are also genuine and humble, admitting that the idea of an encore is pointless and arrogant. Instead they thanked the crowd and finished up the set with two more songs – the last one being a crowd (and personal) favorite “My Only Swerving.” I like the fact that El Ten Eleven is an instrumental band, as it truly allows the listener to be guided on a musical journey of which I will gladly embark on again.
Check out their animated music video for “Yellow Bridges” for a visual journey as well. It was created & directed by Cyriak, a visual artist I’ve done a spotlight on in an earlier post.
El Ten Eleven’s music would fit well in a Mood Core program like Perimeter, with its inclusion of eclectic indie sounds.
– Submitted by Jesse Nathason, Music Design