Up-and-coming Los Angeles band Pacific Radio held their CD release party (for album Pretty, But Killing Me) Monday night at the Silverlake Lounge. As I arrived, the joyous sound of ska horn harmonies could be heard blasting out of the tiny concert space. Inside, I found Bah Ram You half-way into their set, playing the type of ska-punk that permeated rock radio and Warped Tour shows in the late-90’s. Though their sound was not as tight nor their songs as polished as their forbears, I’d be lying if it didn’t warm my heart to see that genre of music still kicking and inspiring new bands, and Bah Ram You definitely showed they know the importance of fun spirit and catchy choruses.
And both of those qualities are something Pacific Radio bring in spades. The band is a no-gimmicks rock n’ roll group, blending Weezer‘s knack for big hooks and self-effacing humor with Velvet Revolver‘s grit and dirt attitude and musical muscle. Opener “Smile” perfectly showcases this description; it rolls with a dark, thumping rhythm and guitar riffs until blasting off into exuberant chorus. They then kicked it into high gear with the speed-infused “Weekend”, which doubled-over with energetic guitar solos and the lead singer’s boozy drawl.
While I feel it’s unfortunately still a few years before rock will makes a come-back in mainstream pop music, I’d like to believe there’s a world where a music director at KISS FM goes rogue and decides to put songs like “Kitchen Table” or “Tight Jeans” into heavy rotation, and wakes up the dormant rock-loving gene in the masses, as both these songs are incredible ear-worms, and based on the audience reactions last night, they’re rollicking enough to get girls jumping and manly enough to get guys moving.
PR kept the banter humorous and short, with occasional jokes about the lead singer’s “guns”, the drummer hiding in the back, and the undeniable awesomeness of their bassist (who is one of very few people who have earned the right to have a mullet). At one point the singer wandered into the audience for a bit of hopping around, and to lay out on the floor for a verse. In description, some of these moments could sound cliche, but the band owned them all.
And of course, the set highlight was “Katie” (which we previously touted here back in December). The song is truly a hit, whether the world hears it or not. It had one long-haired tough guy nearly freaking out on the floor, and the rest of the crowd jumping and singing. The track succeeds in hooking you musically, lyrically and emotionally in one massive wallop.
If there’s any criticism to be made, it’s that they should have saved one of their best songs for last, though their setlist may have been dependent on how much time they were left with.
I unfortunately did not get to see Moon Field Live, and was unable to stay long enough to see The Mormons close out the night, but Pacific Radio‘s show was lively enough to satisfy my rock fix for the evening. Check them out if you’re a sucker for any form of rock n’ roll.
Listen to the Pretty, But Killing Me here: