[LIVE REVIEW] Palma Violets @ The Echo
One thing I’ve been hearing more and more frequently in regards to electronic music’s unprecedented rise in popularity, is that people love going to electronic shows because it’s “always a party.” Why do people go to parties? To socialize, dance, and more often than not, consume large amounts of mind altering substances. If a party has great music, its nothing more than the icing on whatever kind of cake that party is. These party-goers don't pay attention to musicians on stage when their minds have been altered to a point of near-disappearance within 30 minutes of entering the venue. While this is a sad commentary on both our attention span as humans and the state of the music industry, there are bands out there like the Palma Violets who keep my faith alive that rock shows can be parties too, and that you don’t need anything but ears to enjoy them.
When I arrived at The Echo this past Wednesday I wasn’t necessarily expecting a party, but what I found when I entered the small room was the lead singer of an opening act is in his underwear, proudly showing off his beer gut with two raging guitars behind him. Such a sight made me question the relevance of live rock today compared to EDM. If stammering around in your boxers on stage while the rest of your band simply plays as loud as possible is what passes as a rock show these days, its clear why the masses have moved over to club nights and DJ’s. However, what the Palma Violets did up on stage was more than any DJ or shoddy opener could hope to accomplish; a performance.
Despite being a band of four, the foundation of the Palma Violets comes from the relationship between Samuel Thomas Fryer (guitar, lead vocals) and Alexander Johnson (bass, vocals). In the studio, they curated a sound with the power of British punk and the soulful melodies of psychedelic/inde rock, and that’s exactly what they brought to the stage. From the moment the first chord was struck, the two London natives had my ears ringing and my feet moving. Fryer’s resonant voice and fuzzy guitar tone filled every corner of the room while Johnson’s antics on stage were a modern mix of Bowie and Elvis. Whether he was gyrating to the music or crowd-surfing while wearing his plugged-in bass, his crowd interaction was just short of constant, only taking a break to join Fryer on vocals. Together, their voices crashed into the crowd with the force of two purebred punk singers, putting out an infectious level of energy that immersed everyone there. Circle pits erupted, there were multiple stage dives, and several fans followed Johnson’s lead and crowd surfed. I think it’s safe to say it was party, except there was no need to consume large amounts of anything. Rock and roll was the drug that night.
Click any of the images above to enlarge. All photos and words by Harry Levin.