If it weren’t for vox/keyboardist Sarah Rayne, Babes would be a bunch of dudes. Two of the dudes are her siblings, and the other two are so close they seem like family. The group’s friendship is apparent, both onstage and off. They performed at the Bootleg with cool confidence, which is helped by their sense of humor about themselves (see their “Die” video, with lyrics dramatically acted out by Eric Wareheim). Backstage, I bonded with half of the band over birthmarks and butt cracks.
Of Angeleno roots, they were supported by quite a lot of friends in the audience, who sporadically threw confetti at the stage. Their sound evokes the innocence of late 50s/early 60s pop, woven with modern heartbreak, longing for those simpler times. Sarah and her brothers, Andrew and Zach alternate and blend their vocals in danceable ballads, supported by bassist Bryan and drummer Jeff.
Their self-titled EP, which was released earlier this year, is sappy, stirring and sexy. Sarah croons “I’m gonna touch you/even when it makes me feel sad,” in “ATMO (Always Turning Me On).” If they turn you on as much as they did the Bootleg crowd, you can call their hotline directly at 470-BABES-77. No topic is off limits.
If headliners Roadkill Ghost Choir’s name that suggests they might be an ethereal gospel group, the crowd had another thing coming. With a folk/rock/Americana vibe, influenced by their Floridian roots, they brought the energy in the room to a whole new level.
Their Jared Leto-looking frontman Andrew Shepard is accompanied in the band by his brothers Maxx and Zach, making the entire night a family affair. Stephen rocks out on lead guitar, building melodies that have been compared to Johnny Greenwood’s work on OK Computer. Personally, I heard a lot more twang in Roadkill’s sound, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Lurking in the shadows – but certainly not unnoticed – was the fifth member, Kiffy, who annihilated on steel pedal and banjo.
The band seems to have a love/hate relationship with their hometown of Deland, FL, describing it as a “fine retirement community.” They sucked down beers and flushed the blues in their Bootleg set, long hair thrashing under the spotlights. Their debut album In Tongues dropped in August and is a testament to a sound best described as “swamp rock.”