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The War Tapes
Safari Sam’s
Los Angeles, CA
December 18, 2006

Tonight’s show was a smorgasbord of bands playing for a good cause.  The $10 admission to the show at Safari Sam’s was supporting the Fireman’s Relief fund, though no one in the venue, except one of the DJs, knew that.  We were all there for the music and the giving holiday spirit, of course.

It was the usual hipster crowd in Hollywood and tonight’s line up was pretty amazing:  Io Echo, Resistant, War Tapes, Endless Hallway, and La Fin du Monde.  Although I was only there to see the War Tapes, the other bands blew me away.  $10 is pretty good to see 5 rockin’ bands at a small venue with free parking.

The War Tapes went on around 10:30 and rocked the tiki gods.  I was up in the “moat,” as the lead singer of Resistant called it.  It is the area between the stage and the first line of people.  I don’t know why people are afraid to pass that threshold, but I was up there with the fire-breathing dragons and alligators.  Except for a few leeches, I did alright.  Even before they started playing I was dancing and singing along to some Belly and Morrissey, thanks to the DJs, James Nemo and Jared Nichols.  Which one was handling the tunes at this point, I don’t know.  Honestly, I don’t care.  I was just happy to hear some good tunes while watching the War Tapes set up.  People who weren’t up front, just missed out on seeing the up-close action of a hot band.

They always start their set with their sure-fire hit, “Supposed Human.”  This gets the crowd lubed up for the rest of their 7-song set.  However, 7 songs is never enough of the War Tapes.  Listening to only 4 songs on their self-released EP makes me sad.  They have many new songs ready to be included on their soon to be released full-length album, but you can only hear them live.  They don’t even have them on myspace for fans’ listening pleasure.  So, each show is golden.  Tonight’s show consisted of 3 new songs, one of which sounds strikingly like the Cure.  They have that 80’s sound, but with an edge that will make them catapult on to the airwaves, in which they’ve already infiltrated (under their previous name, The Pop Kids).  Smashing Pumpkins has even listed them as a must-hear band on their myspace page.

They are getting more and more confident with every show.  Matt, the guitarist, has grown into his skin and rocks out while strumming.  Neil, the lead singer and guitarist, has really become the rock-star singer.  The best comparison I can make is that of a young Joe Strummer with the voice of Philip Oakley of Human League and Michael of stellastarr*.  Even in appearance, he has the aura of the Clash lead singer, especially with his movements on stage–bending down while playing, edging the stage, and connecting with the audience.  His dark, wide-eyed stare is his signature action.  It is intense and powerful.

Becca, the bass player, is just gorgeous.  She is calm and composed in her vintage style clothing and heels.  She plays amazingly flawless, with no effort, and her voice, not used enough in songs and barely audible at tonight’s show, counters Neil’s deep snarl.  And, Billy hits the drums perfectly, enjoying the show from behind.  He is the backbone of the War Tapes, making beats like glue to their original sound.

That is what I can say about them.  They are original.  There is no band out there like them.  Yes, they take from 80’s rock and even from 90’s music like Smashing Pumpkins and U2, but tonight’s show was no exception for them.  Whether they are playing the Troubadour, The Key Club, or The Echo, they keep the crowd mesmerized and moving on the floor.  Even in the moat, I was moving with beer and camera in hand

By Jennifer Kirchoff