On The List :: Long Winters, Say Hi, and Thailand @ Spaceland [7.19.08]

Greetings from sunny San Francisco and only a few days removed from LA. This past Saturday we had the pleasure of catching The Long Winters, Say Hi (formerly Say Hi To Your Mom) and Thailand at Spaceland in LA. That's a lot of proper nouns. It was a night of reconnection. Kids from work, kids from high school, kids from college, all running into us at some kind of coincidental speed. The relationships were the context but the music was the story. Each band managing to up the ante from the one before it.

Thailand is an up-and-comer from LA. They don't have a drummer and use processed beats out of a drum machine. Usually, this is a nightmare. Thailand survives but late in their set could have used a slightly less repetitive aesthetic. Two songs of iPod beats is fine. Eight songs in, we're a little worn out. They've got some good songs and could use a little more stage presence. In fact, this is a band that might be tailor-made for some sweet ad licensing or television and movie placement.  Keep your eyes open.

Say Hi took the stage next and began to rip through their brand of guitar/keyboard rock. This is a band that personifies synth-rock and halfway through their set, they rip through "Sweet Sweet Heartkiller." It's the kind of song that buzzes it's way into your brain. It is perfectly unforgettable. Their lead-singer is bouncing around and doesn't look a thing like you'd think. He looks much more like Dave Attell than I'm prepared to discuss. They close with "Northwestern Girls" and it lifts us up and takes us somewhere else. But that's an over-think. The band works and that's all there is to it. 

Last and after a speedy set-change, The Long Winters took over Spaceland. Halfway through the set, lead-singer, John Roderick looks into the stage lights and gets all meta. He says, "for all of you bloggers here to cover the show, I'm going to give you your first line. 'The Long Winters are one of the best indie-rock bands in America' ... If we've learned one thing in this business, it's that you just have to feed it to them." He smiles. He's kidding. For all his insightfulness and careful consideration of himself as an artist, The Long Winters are a band that cares about you. 

Next, Roderick plays a song that some idiot kid requested. It's the kid's 21st birthday. The kid looks pumped. Roderick asks if anyone has a guitar pick. A kid who knows the words in the front row has one. He hands it to the stage and at the end of the set, Roderick returns it. It is a small gesture, to be sure but one that isn't (and cannot be) forgotten. The band plays "the hits" running through "Stupid," "The Commander Thinks Aloud," "Blue Diamonds," "Cinnamon," to name a few, and closes with "Pushover." It's simple. This is a great band. Maybe even one of the best, John. 


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