Thursday, July 23, 2009

Missed the Noisettes at Spaceland? You're going to Long Beach on Friday night

There was no shortage of notable concerts in L.A. last night. From O.C. pop-punk legends No Doubt’s triumphant return to the stage with the Sounds and Paramore at Universal City to British alt-rockers Elbow at the Wiltern, concertgoers had myriad of options to choose from.

But it may have been a surprisingly buzz-free show by emerging London indie upstarts Noisettes at Spaceland that delivered the night's most striking performance.

Fronted by captivating fashion plate Shingai Shoniwa (pictured) on lead vocals and bass, the trio -- augmented at Spaceland by a female backing singer and an auxiliary bass player to allow Shoniwa to roam the stage more freely -- commanded the packed room with a presence and sense of musicianship sorely lacking in far too many bands found under the tag “indie.”

Opening with the bouncy title track from their more refined sophomore album “Wild Young Hearts,” they stormed through tracks from both of their full-length releases with a decided air of confidence. Hard-charging numbers like “Scratch Your Name” segued easily into the dramatic girl-group histrionics of “Never Forget You.”

Though the firebrand personality and muscular vocals of Shoniwa grab a lion’s share of the attention, the boys in the band more than hold their own. Guitarist Dan Smith is a subtle and creative axe-slinger, and drummer Jamie Morrison is their secret weapon, a blur of bushy hair and drumsticks as he bashes out the big beats.

Veering through danceable pop hooks, aggressive rock riffing and hazy atmospherics, the biggest question of the night hung in the air like a cartoon bubble: Why isn’t this band way more popular than they already are?

Granted, their records have yet to fully capture the primal energy and abilities of this underrated outfit. But given the rapturous response to their take-no-prisoners performance at Spaceland last night, the only thing standing between Noisettes and “next big thing” status is time.

But perhaps the best news in all of this? If you happened to miss the Wednesday night gig at Spaceland (no judging, we like No Doubt too), you can see the Noisettes on Friday night at 7 p.m. in Long Beach -- free. The band will perform an in-store at terrific indie record shop Fingerprints, 4612 E. 2nd St.

The store is asking those who want to attend to RSVP, so call now at (562) 433-4996.

-Scott T. Sterling

(Originally published in L.A. Times)