Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Knit Ball Review and Particle Setlist

I caught the first annual Knit Ball at the Knitting Factory and it was one of the best parties in Hollyweird I have ever attended. Most parties and gigs in LA are inherently lame, with too many hipsters there to be seen rather than to enjoy and listen to the music, or too many industry types congregating in the corners doing too much blow or stroking the egos of the lead singer or random hot chick in the band.

Knit Ball was different. The crowd was mellow and happy and there for the music which included the headliner Particle and other bands such as Lotus, Aphrodesia, Delta Nove, New Monsoon, Blue Turtle Seduction, and Animatronics. The place wasn't very crowded which meant plenty of room to dance and breathe. I've seen shows at the original Knitting Factory in NYC and the left coast version is much different and it some ways a cooler venue. You have to park in a parking deck which turns into a mini-parking lot scene with people having cocktails and smoking up before they go into the show. The elevator takes you a few steps from the box office window.

A long corridor leads into a bigger room, or what is called The Front Room which is one of three areas to see music. A long bar sits on one side opposite several couches. The stage is in the far corner. There are two big sets of grey steel doors that lead into the Main Room and the Alterknit Lounge.

I went with Change100 and we met up with the 19 year-old actress who lives across the hall from her. She brought her father with her, who was visiting for the weekend from Wisconsin. He was totally cool, smoking up, partying, and buying drinks for everyone.

When we walked in, Aphrodesia was on stage. All eleven band members were cramped as they belted out addictive funky Afro-Cuban melodies. Originally from San Francisco, Aphrodesia had recently spent time in West Africa soaking up the local beats and sounds. Their music has a variety of influences such as Afrobeat, Highlife, dub, funk, Caribbean spice and East African trance music. They had two female leads and one of them played the cowbell. They wore a combination of spandex and fish net stockings. We only listened for two songs before we headed into the Main Room to see Lotus.

I don't have a setlist for Lotus, but they played for about an hour starting around 9:45pm. The Main Room had a balcony with trippy decorations. There was a mini bar off to the left side of the stage and a main bar in back. They stocked Red Stripes which pleased me. Random people in the crowd were dressed up. One guy wore a cape and a chick with big boobs wore a slutty Catholic school girl. Some wore pajamas or Asian-themed clothing. One drunk guy wore Evel Knievel pants.

As the floor filled up and the music started it was evident that a good majority of the crowd was rolling on something. Two high school girls who danced near us were totally wasted. They couldn't stop dancing even when the music stopped. The crowd was a mixture of spun out wookies, jacked up club kids, trendoids who looked cooler than they actually were, UCLA frat boys, hipsters checking their cell phones every seven minutes, drunken D-girls, stoners from the Valley, and tripping high schoolers since the show was ages 18 and up.

Daddy turned me onto Lotus. He saw them at Wakrusa last year and burned me a CD of their performance. I was hooked on their Phishy vibes and excited to see that they were on the bill with Particle at Knit Ball. Lotus is originally from Philly and has been around for five or six years. The quintet have morphed into a groove band, with a jazzy and funky flow. Lotus has two drummers and sometimes two guys playing keys. Just like Particle, some of their songs sound like house music and it's like hearing something from a club in Greece performed by a live band.

I only knew the name to one song, Sunrain, which was the highlight of the tight and high energy set. The entire crowd danced and you could feel the floor rattle. It was the first time I saw Lotus perform live and was impressed. When their set ended, I was disappointed that they weren't going to play more. That's how I can tell how much I'm digging the vibe of a band, particularly when I'm sober. They walked off stage and I wanted more.

Here's how Change100 described the scene:
The willowy blonde hippie girl blew on my neck as she floated past me, the stage lights reflecting pink and blue off the the whites of her glassy eyes. She must have seen how hot I was, my damp blonde hair twisted into a knot at the nape of my neck, sweat coursing down my face, ruining my once-perfect makeup job. I suppose the MDMA coursing through her bloodstream implored her to reach out to me in my hour of need, in whatever small way she could... More
We stepped outside for a setbreak. Delta Nove is a funk band from Long Beach and were onstage in the Front Room as we walked outside to smoke. They weren't bad and the crowd was into it. I caught two or three of their songs before we went back inside to see Particle.

Here's the Particle setlist from Knit Ball:
Particle 5.19.06 Knitting Factory, Hollywood, CA

Set 1: It's So Hard > Denmark, Cheap Novelty Hats, Mind Over Matter, Children's Story, Ed & Molly

Set 2: The Golden Gator > Vocoder & Beatbox Jam> Golden Gator > Ramble On > Golden Gator > I Think I'm In Love > Golden Gator, Launchpad

Encore: Truth Dont Die*

*with Luke Miller from Lotus (keyboard), Liz Larson from Aphrodesia (trombone), John Harrington from Delta Nove (trumpet), and Raj Parikh from New Monsoon (tablas)
I first saw Particle during their after Phish show gig in San Francisco in 2000. I've caught them six or seven other times, possibly more. I've described Particle as dance/club music performed by a live band. They recently added two new members, one of them being Scott Metzger, who I've seen play with Galactic. The duo guitars give them an interesting sound with some of their newer songs. I admit, I'm not that much of a fan of the new stuff. However, they're making an attempt to go in a new direction and take some new chances which I applaud.

Their older material is still great stuff, even if I'm not rolling. I don't know their entire song base enough to say that I have a favorite song, but I've seen them play Ed & Molly at almost ever show. The version at Knit Ball sizzled and had the crowd jumping up and down as the wooden floor shook and bounced.

The second set featured a cover of Led Zeppelin's Ramble On that was in the middle of a Gold Gator sandwich. For their encore, Particle invited members of the other bands that participated in Knit Ball such as New Monsoon, Delta Nove, Lotus, and Aphrodesia. It was pinnacle of Knit Ball where everyone's musical influences entwined during the delicious encore.

The music was amazing and new. The crowds were receptive, mellow, and fun to be around. The venue was pretty cool. I haven't seen every musical venue in LA, but from the ones I've seen, the Knitting Factory is my favorite so far. You got to do your own thing at Knit Ball, which ended up as a collection of spacey jams, trance-like beats, addictive Afro grooves, porn funk, and even some old school cowbell. I was surprised that you could find musical substance in LA, especially in a random club in Hollyweird.

Editor's Note: This is cross posted to the Tao of Pauly titled Hollyweird Knit Ball: Cowbells, Porn Funk, and Afro-Tance.

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