the Whisky - West Hollywood - 2/2/00

Six other bands would be playing that night, as part of Poptopia. I missed Crooner, but I'd seen them before. I arrived as Champion were playing. They were just terrific. Go see them, you absolutely must! The Beat Angels were interesting, but too much of a bad american Suede knockoff for my taste, and Martin Luther Lennon failed to hold my interest. Then Pp. The crowd smooshes up to the stage and I end up staying upstairs on the balcony {great view, I found, complete with elbow room}. After the general setlist necessities, they performed 3 very new songs in celebration of getting on a new label, Epic.

While the first new one, "It's Over Now," had a cool vibe to it, the other two really stood out. "By My Side" {w/ Jacques on vox} is indeed incredibly mature sounding for the band. They now show that they have the ability to write an actual ballad, that *doesn't* have to be quiet and slow and la la la simple. If they don't put it on the next album, I personally will hit whoever is responsible. I mean it.

The third, "California!", isn't like anything you've ever heard them play before. It starts off with the slightest shadow of a drumbeat and Alex whistling into the microphone something a little bit like the melody in the beginning of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," speeded up. The song eventually leads to him yelling "Californiaaaaaaaaaaaaa.. AAAAAAAAAA.. Ahhhhhh... ahahahAAA.. aaaaaHHHHH..." ...holding it until you can't believe the capacity of his lungs, and even then, he still makes the note go higher and higher and louder and louder still.. the line between this and his desperate gasps for air gets blurred... even at its highest point it sounds so urgent, overall full of emotion that you have to physically stop and catch yourself if you weren't expecting it. Meanwhile Sam is giving his strains of "ahhhhhhhhhhh" in the background... the perfect compliment, "soft" in terms of, erm, quality but not volume {he's screaming too}.. almost pretty-sounding even, yet somehow equally frantic, though he seems to be sincerely enjoying himself. Wonderful.

General chatting and band schmoozing outside, and so goes the evening. Hey to everybody new I met, including Arthi, Huy, and some girl who told me my website was "dope." Hmm...