Sunday morning I experienced a little wave of excitement when I found out San Francisco’s The Fresh & Only’s had a last minute show that had been tacked onto the closing day of the Echo Park Rising Fest. They were just here over the 4th of July weekend headlining the weekly Part Time Punks party at The Echo and kicking off a month long US tour. This has been my favorite band for the last six months. Long Slow Dance and their newest release House of Spirits on the Mexican Summer label have been taking turns on my record player almost exclusively. These albums are carefully crafted, layered works of art, which don’t always translate into a great live performance.
The Fresh and Only’s last appearance in Los Angeles had poor turnout and having never watched them I made sure to stand right up front. With Little Joy completely packed, hot wet air hanging from everything and everyone, The Only’s quickly loaded in. No riser, no stage, just taking up the space the pool table usually occupies and the crowd pressing in. You could tell something was about to happen. One song in and Tim Cohen, the band’s singer said, “We have a new album out and we are going to play it for you now”. Two songs in and Tim says, “This is the best show we have ever had in Los Angeles”.
With guitars and bass swinging wildly the performance resembled something from a 90’s era hardcore show. People were climbing on tables and up the walls to gain vantage; everyone was dancing, sweating, and screaming between songs. Simultaneously Wymond Miles isfacing his two amps, wielding feedback and hair swinging wildly, while Tim Cohen is grabbing his mic two handed and shouting out the lyrics.
They proceeded to put on an incredible performance, playing every track on the album in order with immaculate care and attention. Heavily produced tracks like the albums first single “Bells of Paonia” made up for their lack of studio polish with sheer volume and percussion. There is some confusion regarding the band’s current line up. It seems there is a new bassist and drummer. Shayde Sartin and Kyle Gibson were not on stage and had been replaced temporarily or otherwise. However, they seemed remarkable tight for having a completely new rhythm section.
After returning to the west coast from a month of playing together, last night’s performance proved they have changed. Gone was the polish, care and attention, gone was the culture of a band that had just gifted the world a new album, and in its place was real rock and roll band. This band has managed to find that energy, that magic spirit that’s at the heart of all good music, and are now able to conjure it at will. Despite our two cities’ long standing baseball rivalry, it is comforting to see a musical kinship. How lucky Angelinos are to have a band of this quality and caliber playing here regularly, we can only hope it continues.