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In the mood for Porches

The band astonished at their second sold-out show at The Echoplex this year.   |    Maxwell Heilman/THE CHIMES

 

Aaron Maine and company expertly craft their live performances beyond that of many bands in modern music. With one of the best albums of the year and a tour full of sold-out dates under their belt, Porches sits in a good spot.

Moody, Dancey Tracks

The band brought their moody, dancey tracks back to Los Angeles on Friday, Sept. 14 for the third time of 2016 – following a sold-out show in March and a sunset-laden performance at the Santa Monica Pier in July. Held at Echo Park music hotspot The Echoplex, the show was again sold out – this time without the support of acclaimed DIY songsmith Alex G.

Rivergazer, the project of Porches’ guitarist Kevin Farrant, kicked off the night for the packed room. Backed only by a bassist and, from the looks of it, Ableton Live, the duo played through an assortment of sensuous synthpop. The deeply luscious bass grooves sometimes took on the character of a bass synth, while Farrant’s vocals swayed back and forth, heavily affected by auto-tune. Although the effect often comes off as cheesy or cheap, smearing a lack of vocal ability, Farrant’s usage extended his musical persona, an instrument in its own right.

The woozy “Only 4 U” took the gold for set highlights, introduced as a song to “shake your booty too… if you got one.” While not a 100 percent perfect performance, certain tracks ending too abruptly or deducing desirable riffs to that of backing tracks, such as the trance-like guitar progression of “Gotta Go,” Rivergazer should garner continued attention.

Gushing Energy

The Philadelphia-based Japanese Breakfast followed, making their second stop at The Echoplex this year after supporting Mitski in July. Although their album “Psychopomp” signaled a dreamier atmosphere, the band’s show gushed energy. Songs like “Everybody Wants to Love You” got the crowd moving, while frontwoman Michelle Zauner bounded across the stage and down into the crowd at one point. While songs like the weighty and contemplative “Heft” translated very well in the live setting, twinkly guitar riff and all, their set suffered from a monotonous feeling due to over-familiar approaches.

Porches did not just steal the show, but likely topped every other performance in town that night. Wasting no time, the band dived headfirst into a “Pool”–heavy set with “Glow” and “Mood.” Hitting each note with ease and precision, the band’s performance existed on an entirely different level than most artists today.

Stark Yet Poised

Aaron Maine’s stage banter resonated somewhere between stoic and outrageous, frankly proclaiming, “This is the worst song we have,” in regards to “Be Apart.” He even made a point of notably bypassing the band’s encore routine in favor of playing one last quintet of songs. Other moments found Maine running from one side of the stage to the other while playing the intro of a song, covering Alex G.’s “Walk” and even digging out the five-year-old deep cut “Daddies,” which he deemed “a chiller.”

Very few artists are capable of a show so stark while so poised, and the presence of highly-praised musicians such as Mac DeMarco and St. Vincent in the crowd spoke volumes. As Porches walked off stage after the final note of “Security,” it felt like the conclusion of an experience completely and utterly magical.

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