Seeing a great band for the first time is a bit like falling in love. It’s intense, exotic and sometimes it’s over far too soon.
That was certainly the case Wednesday night at Chop Suey as Los Angeles-based Raw Geronimo turned in a rocking 40 minutes of melodic mayhem that accomplished the seemingly impossible in today’s musical landscape: The band, led by Laena Geronimo, sounded pretty damn unique.
Raw Geronimo announced itself with “Van Gogh Baby,” a slow-burning track off their debut album “Dream Fever” that builds into a cathartic, crashing release of pounding drums and Geronimo’s supremely confident belting.
They wisely launched right into the punk-influenced “Bitched” and Geronimo slithered, shook and shimmied around the stage like a veteran despite the fact that this is her band’s first tour. Dressed in a white blouse and leather pants, she looked the part she was playing, but it was her delivery that sold it. Geronimo, the daughter of Devo drummer Alan Myers (who sadly just passed on this summer), is the real deal and she erased any doubt of that with a convincing performance.
The band displayed an impressively wide-ranging sound as they eagerly tore through 10 of their album’s 11 songs. From the vaguely Eastern European-sounding “Bird’s Eye Bonsai” to its elegantly layered single “Faustine,” Raw Geronimo proved that it deserved to play in front of more than just 30 or so people.
The problem is, as one person eloquently put it at the show, there is a lot of noise out there. It’s not news that the internet age has ushered in an era where anyone with a laptop can cut a record and post it online, but knowing that doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult to sift through all the garbage to find something truly great.
If there was any justice in the world of music, Raw Geronimo would have already made it. But of course, there isn’t, so they’re out on the road grinding on a tour that was put together at the absolute last minute, hoping that the old adage about the cream rising to the top is true.
Fortunately they got some pretty solid local bands to fill the bill out. The Trouble Starts opened things up and sounded like the illegitimate offspring of Brand New, Explosions in the Sky and the Gaslight Anthem. Weird? Well, it worked. “Queermocore” band Wishbeard was similarly impressive and used thudding bass, a nifty synthesizer and Bryn Santillan’s ethereal vocals to craft melodic songs perfect for a late night adventure.
But it was the out-of-towners who left the lasting impression. As their final number, “Magnetic Love,” reached its cathartic climax, you got the feeling that the love affair might just be starting.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails