Highly Suspect

Highly Suspect (10:00 PM)

Slothrust (9:00 PM)

Sat, September 24, 2016

8:00 pm

$20.00

Sold Out

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Highly Suspect - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
Highly Suspect
It happened in Brooklyn. In 2011, the members of Highly Suspect arrived in the borough from their native Cape Cod, MA. The next four years became a whirlwind of sex, drugs, and more rock ‘n’ roll than most people could ever handle. Then again, Johnny Stevens [vocals, guitar] and twin brothers Rich [bass, vocals] and Ryan Meyer [drums] aren’t “most people.” Those chemically-soaked nights, hazier mornings, broken relationships, and cathartic realizations leave residue across Highly Suspect’s full-length debut album, Mister Asylum [300 Entertainment], and it’s inebriating in the best way possible.
The boys moved into a studio apartment with “no electricity yet,” getting a cheap rate as Rich promised to add an elevated loft with five bedrooms. He made good on his promise and even launched his own contracting company that would fuel the band’s exploits for the foreseeable future. As they slowly but surely made a name for themselves locally, Johnny cataloged experiences in the moment, either putting pen to paper in his notebook or using his phone’s memos.
“This album is a collection of everything that happened from the time I moved to Brooklyn onward,” says Johnny. “I met Lydia the first week we were here. She was the only girl in the building. It was Lydia and her roommates and us. She kicked everything off for me. The album is a reflection of our experiences. Shit, New York is the dream. On Cape Cod, I’d wake up at five in the morning, work out, surf, and smoke a ton of weed. In New York, you’re staying up until five in the morning, and the weed is now cocaine. It’s a nocturnal life and a totally different thing. I lived it pretty fucking hard and had to write about it.”
“It all felt meant to be in a weird way,” adds Rich. “We moved into the first building we looked at, and there was this plane flying overhead that said, ‘Last Chance.’ There were homeless people everywhere and a broken down minivan. We weren’t on Cape Cod anymore.”
While busking in the subway, Johnny caught a woman’s attention who introduced the band to producer Joel Hamilton [Black Keys, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello]. After hitting it off with the band, and interested to hear more, he hooked the band up with some studio time, recording their new EP as a passion project.
“We didn’t have a genre or aesthetic we were going for,” explains Ryan. “We simply wrote what we liked. It was really natural, and Joel captured that on our first EP.”
Their D.I.Y. music video for the drowsy, dirty, and dirge-y blues rocker “Bath Salts”—which Johnny penned after “overdosing on a huge combination of shit”—drummed up a major buzz online and attracted the band’s current management. They cut another independent EP with Gojira singer and guitarist Joseph Duplantier behind the board. Continuing to slug it out live, they eventually caught the attention of 300 Entertainment in 2014 who signed the trio as its flagship rock outfit.
Following the signing, Highly Suspect entered Studio G in Brooklyn with Hamilton and cut Mister Asylum to tape. They tapped into something real, rigid, and raw that instantly resonated.
Upon release, the record debuted at #22 on the Billboard Top 200, selling over 9,100 copies and making it one of the “top three biggest selling rock debuts by a new act in 2015.” Rolling Stone,Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, The Fader, and more praised the group, and they shared stages with the likes of Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Deftones, Eagles of Death Metal, My Morning Jacket, Grizzly Bear and more and lit up festivals such as Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.
The infectious grit and grime of songs like the single “Lydia” heralded the band’s presence. Ryan and Rich lock into a creeping rhythmic stomp as Johnny’s eternally haunted vocals transfix.
“It’s about my ex-girlfriend,” Johnny continues. “It displays what it feels like to know you’re ending something good because you have other things to do. Lydia and I were very much in love, but our lives were leading us in different directions. There was nothing wrong with her. We would’ve been holding each other back. We were in our early twenties in New York City, trying to do important things and follow our dreams. I pushed her away, and she pushed me away.”
The swaggering riffs of “Mom” belie a darkness as Johnny address his mother who “has some personal issues she could never deal with that wound up taking her out of my life as a baby.”
“23” rolls from thick guitars into a hypnotic chant just before a howling lead. He remarks, “We left when I was 23-years-old. We’re saying, ‘Fuck it and fuck you if you don’t want to get behind what we’re doing.’ It’s an empowering song about getting up and out of your home town and making something happen.”
Meanwhile, Rich penned the upbeat “Lost,” which veers between a bombastic drum beat into a magnetic refrain. Rich says, “It’s one of those relationships where you love each other, but it’s just not going to work out. I think everyone’s been there.”
In many ways, Highly Suspect’s wonderful danger stands encapsulated in the name of the album, Mister Asylum.
“Asylum can be a place of safety, and it can also be a place that’s scary, like a mental institution,” Johnny leaves off. “Mister Asylum embodies both of those things all at once—safety and craziness. It’s organization and chaos. It’s Yin and Yang. It’s losing your mind and finding yourself. That’s us. When people listen to our music, I want them to feel like they're not alone in their thoughts. At the same time, we’re just regular dudes. We want to meet everyone and have a good time when we play.”
Slothrust - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Slothrust
With their long-awaited third album Everyone Else, Slothrust deliver ten riveting anthems that reward repeated listens. The songs grab the ear and pierce the psyche with complex arrangements and lyrical depth intensified by guitarist/vocalist Leah Wellbaum’s penetrating vocal delivery.

Slothrust is Wellbaum, Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums). The trio first staked out their unique strain of jazz- and blues-afflicted rock as students at Sarah Lawrence College. The band’s 2012 debut Feels Your Pain, and its successor 2014’s Of Course You Do, established the band as a breed apart, serving up deceptively clever epics that veer satisfyingly between incandescent riffing and pop hooks, winsome anxiety and powerful heft.

“People have always had trouble comparing us to other bands, but someone recently described us as Nirvana meets Wynton Marsalis, and I loved that,” says Wellbaum. Even the band’s name inspires a beat of thoughtful consideration as the eyes take in the letters and the brain makes its snap judgement: Slo Thrust? Slot Rust? Slo Trust? Sloth-Rust.

We all studied jazz and blues, so I often use chords and voicings that aren’t quite as conventional for contemporary rock,” she continues. “Certain harmonic movement can get stale, so I try to incorporate colorful notes to give it more depth. The improvisational spirit of blues music is also something we try to always keep with us, even in more composed playing. I am drawn to musicians a bit further outside of the rock tradition, such as John Fahey, Elizabeth Cotten, D'Angelo, and Portishead. Growing up I listened to a lot of R&B and classical music. And musicals."

While Everyone Else clearly shows Wellbaum fulfilling her early promise as a singer, it’s where she hits her stride as a lyricist: Pulling the listener under the surface to explore a submerged world brimming with exotic creatures. Water motifs abound, detailing oddly off-kilter observations about floating, submerging and drowning that are anything but morose. Instead, they contort and reflect worldly truths about life on dry land.

Nowhere is this vision clearer than on the slow burn of the album’s centerpiece track “Horseshoe Crab.” Here, with storm cloud riffs and Will Gorin and Kyle Bann’s perfectly calibrated rhythmic undercurrent, Slothrust’s erupts in a geyser of emotional and spatial distance, as Wellbaum observes, “I don’t have anything in common with myself, except that I came from the sea, like everyone else did.”

“Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone" opens like some bizzarro world lullaby dispensing sage advice: “Drink seltzer, smoke weed when you can’t sleep. Think about shooting birds, everyone has got a violent streak.” Then, as the guitars explode, the rhythm section dials into stylish, disciplined groove to set up an expansive instrumental break that gently floats to a close with Wellbaum, at peace: “Hold me under the water. My lungs are filling with plankton. But the lake is not lonely. No need for you to come with me.”

Above all the overriding ethos of Everyone Else is its sense of inclusiveness: all people, every feeling, quiet, loud, any time signature. With a snap of the neck the band launches into the hyper-adrenalized “Rotten Pumpkin” with Wellbaum singing in a rapid-fire vomit burst, “I’ll make you sick because I’m soft water. Reach inside of me, and scoop out my seeds.” This midpoint between grunge and art rock is the aesthetic Slothrust elevates: sharp-eyed individualism, serious musicianship, humble intelligence, controlled abandon.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change