The Roxy gave their audience a glimpse of what old school, gritty rock and roll was all about in West Hollywood, California back in the 60’s and early 70’s with two great performances by Morgan Delt and Flamin’ Groovies and then topped it all off with a psychedelic light display that many people have probably never seen anything like.
Walking up to The Roxy on a Wednesday Night, nothing seemed to be too much out of the ordinary of what would be a typical show at the famed Hollywood venue. After a rather long and exasperating drive through the usual Los Angeles traffic I was much anxious to get in and partake in a couple of drinks to help ease my frustration and get me in the right mindset for the show. Instant awe came over me as I walked in through the main hallway to where the main stage sits and saw a projection display of psychedelic colors fluidly mixing and moving through each other and creating a background for the stage that I had never seen before. Mesmerized by the beautiful display and the thoughtfully chosen vintage records the DJ was playing, I slowly sipped on my first drink at the bar and began to realize that this was not just a projector with a pre-recorded video loop creating these images, but an actual human using large lamp overhead projectors and mixing colored dye and oils on glass plates and manipulating them in certain ways by hand. It was nothing I had ever heard of or seen before, but I later found it was first done in the early 60’s as background for avant-garde theater shows and electronic music and were called liquid light shows. Eventually, bands like Jefferson Airplane and Pink Floyd used these techniques in their live performances with the help of light artist, Mike Leonard. Mad Alchemy provided its take on the liquid light show for The Roxy on this particular night and the images were spectacular.
Now that the amazing images had me in a relaxed psychedelic daze, it was time for the first band Morgan Delt to kick off the live music for the night. I recently had begun to listen to Morgan Delt’s self-titled album and was really amazed at the degree of talent in the songwriting and the overall production of the recordings, so I was very curious to see what this band was all about being that I didn’t know too much about them. As they came on to play I noticed how very young they are, or maybe it is just that I am getting older. They dressed and looked as if they came out of another era enhanced by the psychedelic liquid light show that moved behind them and their delay heavy shoe gaze rock sound. Although their live sound is not quite as sculpted and professional as it could be, they have such great songs that its easy to get past the fact that they still have some growing up to do in their live performances. The band started to build steam and really started to meld together as they got into their set and this also seemed to wear off on the crowd as well. They played most of their album and I really dug the performances of their songs ‘Barbarian Kings’, ‘Mr. Carbon Copy’, and ‘Obstacle Eyes’, which had driving rhythms and surreal melodic phrases that kept the music moving and flowing with a psychedelic wave of sound. If you haven’t heard Morgan Delt’s music yet you can check them out on iTunes , Facebook , or any other social media site.
The night did not end with a great performance from Morgan Delt though, but continued with the classic band formed in San Francisco almost 50 years ago, Flamin’ Groovies, who opened for The Ramones in August of 1976 at The Roxy and helped paved the way for the power pop-punk songs that came to the US in the early 70’s. With great experience and confidence came a great live show, and they proved that all their hard work and dedication to their music writing over the years had begun to pay off as the under-rated and under appreciated band of the past finally got the recognition that they had long time deserved. By the time that Flamin’ Groovies opened with their set, The Roxy was packed with an eclectic crowd of people and the mood seemed to shift into more of a frenzy. They opened with their song ‘Teenage Head’ from their 1971 album and immediately it was understood that this band had authority on stage. With wailing guitars, great blues riffs, and heart-felt vocals Flamin’ Groovies took complete control of their live show leaving the audience with nothing left to do but to dance and enjoy. There set included some well done covers by Freddy Cannon, The Byrds, NRBQ, W.C. Handy, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Chuck Berry, and The Beatles that helped to show off all their technical skills but, also played many of their original hits including their famed single ‘Shake Some Action’. Graced with hilarious and interesting stories from their long history in the music business and loud blues riff guitar rock songs the audience was left with a greater admiration for Flamin’ Groovies’ dedication to their art form.
After leaving the show and driving back home I dwelled over everything I had just seen, and came to realize that Wednesday May 13th 2015 at The Roxy was a night to be remembered. If there is ever a chance to see Morgan Delt or Flamin’ Groovies play live, it is something that you won’t want to miss.