Reviews

Razorlight + Red Cortez

Carole Ann Wright
Razorlight

The disappointment reached a low-point during “Golden Touch”, arguably Razorlight’s biggest stateside hit, when Johnny Borrell held the mic out for a sing-along only to find that the audience didn’t actually know the words

Razorlight + Red Cortez

City: Los Angeles, CA
Venue: Doug Weston’s Troubadour
Date: 2009-02-03

On a Tuesday night, in one of Los Angeles’ most historic (and tiniest) venues, it’s the same old thing: Distracted twenty- and thirtysomethings swarming the bar, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’ve just paid to see a show. This trend goes almost as far back as the Troubadour itself, though it is arguably excusable in certain situations. Opening acts, for example, are often greeted with apathy by an audience who hasn’t necessarily ever heard of them; it becomes the purpose of the opener, then, to not only warm up the crowd in anticipation for the headliner, but also to prove that they’re worth even the minimal attention that they are bound to receive by volume alone -- a difficult task when competing with a chorus of conversation sometimes louder than the set itself. Headliners have it easy, especially if the opening act is a solid one. Even so, it’s not always a done deal, and this particular night did in fact prove to be an exception to the rule. It was amid a general feeling of indifference that Red Cortez took the stage -- and then they started playing. One by one, audience members were beaten into submission by the pure energy flowing from the four guys before them, led by the obvious aptitude of lead singer and jack-of-all-trades, Harley Prechtel-Cortez. With the epic grandeur of Coldplay’s Chris Martin and the raw passion of the Shins’ James Mercer, Prechtel-Cortez belied his youthful appearance (not unlike a baby-faced Benicio del Toro with a pompadour) with his fierce command of the stage and of the refined garage-rock tunes he helped to crank out. Though sometimes threatening to overshadow his respectably capable bandmates, even the nu-grunge nuances in the still-evolving tunes were saved by their dynamic jam-sessions, with Prechtel-Cortez at the helm regardless of what instrument he happened to pick up at any given moment. It was a one-two punch of talent-backed adrenaline, and exactly what an opening act should be. By the time Brit-rockers Razorlight swaggered to the stage, the sold-out show was at capacity, appetites whetted and ready for the second course. Unfortunately, the English quintet has grown clearly more accustomed to arenas and seemed visibly stifled by the intimate setting. Frontman Johnny Borrell, doing his very best Mick Jagger, couldn’t quite connect as the band substituted volume for passion and continuously failed to form a cohesive sound. The disappointment reached a low-point during “Golden Touch”, arguably their biggest stateside hit, when Borrell held the mic out for a sing-along only to find that the audience didn’t actually know the words. It was a little bit brutal, to say the least, proving that massive success across the pond can still get lost in translation. Catch them in a large-scale environment, if you can, because the band does have promise, even if it’s hard to see in miniature. Is there a moral to be gleaned from this experience? On the one hand, we have an up-and-coming band easily proving their musical worth to a group of disinterested LA snobs. Depressing? Yes, but certainly not a lost cause. A few more performances like that under their belts, and it’s only a matter of time before the buzz begins. On the other hand, we have a once buzz-worthy startup whose early success has had the unfortunate side effect of rendering them almost completely useless in any venue smaller than a stadium. Although it’s doubtful that Red Cortez, with their undeniable knack for kicking sonic ass, will suffer the same fate, it is nonetheless a cautionary tale that any new band would do well to follow closely: No matter how small the venue, how aloof the audience, or how massive your success overseas, a live show is still a live show, and you should still give 100%. You never know who’s listening between catty comments, after all.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image