Titan / Earthless / The Fucking Champs @ Echoplex

July 29, 2007

Last night I witnessed the dazzling prog/psych/hard rock spectacle that was Titan, Earthless, and The Fucking Champs at Echoplex, located a mere footstep (plus several hundred) from my front door. As per usual, I showed up a half-hour after the listed start time, and I was still an hour early. I’ve yet to figure out how the hell shows work in LA. Everywhere else in the world I’ve been, they seem to start on time…

Before the show started I spent a few minutes chatting with Titan keyboardist Chris, and we spoke about his band, their recorded output, general music crap, and shared some life stories. It was a rather amiable exchange. Then his band took the stage and melted the faces of all those in attendance. Titan played about three songs in 35-45 minutes and definitely won over whatever portion of the crowd did not know already them. Lots of people were moved by the deep, heavy Titan groove. Heads nodded, eyes rolled back, and then there was that one guy who seemed to be dancing to his own stilted beat near the front, left-hand side of the stage. What a laugh riot! I’ve written at length about the finer qualities of Titan in the past year, so read here or here if you’re looking for more descriptions of their immense, transcendent performances. And, as always, be sure to catch them live or buy their albums.

Earthless took me by surprise. I’d never heard of them, but they made damn sure I heard them last night. In fact, they almost deafened me, and I actually had to move back to the soundboard area to protect my ears. Holy shit, I haven’t heard a band that loud since Boris. The three-piece from San Diego, with their Orange and Sunn amplifiers caught everyone in their whirlpool and dragged us under for forty minutes of sublime bombast. The sound Earthless emits is chest-kicking drum attacks, amphetamine bass riffs, and unending acid-guitar solos, capped off with occasional white-noise Echoplex (the effects unit, not the concert venue) madness. It was equal parts Hawkwind and High Rise. They also literally rocked without relent. There was not a single break between songs, the band seamlessly shifted numbers without hesitation, without breaking the momentum, without giving the audience even a moment to catch their breath or re-calibrate their hearing. I was left awed by their performance. Even Matt Sweeney got into it!

Perhaps not surprisingly, I met a guy who was there filming the performance for use in the upcoming documentary “Heavy” (or, as it’s being called online, “Such Hawks, Such Hounds”). We spoke between sets about underground music and travel. It seems as if everyone is really excited about the imminent release of the film. In case you don’t read this page regularly, I posted a very large (137MB) high quality trailer last month. It features performances and interviews with hard rock acts like Dead Meadow, Bardo Pond, Mammatus, Sunn O))), Pearls & Brass and a ton more. Also, that Pitchfork reviewer nerd who tends to ramble a lot!

The Fucking Champs. How were The Fucking Champs? Hopefully this imagery-rich description of one thirty-second long event will help capture their performance: During a particularly theatrical anthem in the latter-half of the band’s set, the pot-bellied, bespectacled long-hair to my immediate left let out a triumphant “Woooot!” while extending a nearly-full beer above his head–perhaps as an offering to the Gods of rock–before violently throwing it to the ground in front of him, grabbing the voluptuous ass of his coked-up, thirty-something, ironic-heavy-metal-shirt-wearing girlfriend, jamming his hand down the back of her jeans, and tickling her half-exposed butt crack with his skull-and-cross-bones-ring-adorning middle-finger. Fucking great, right?

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