When booking acts for its less-than-coveted Tuesday evening slots, The Echo apparently holds itself to less rigid standards of lineup cohesiveness. And though it might be hard to draw a line of best fit between France’s Tahiti Boy and the Palmtree Family, British rock outfit 22-20s and former-film-actress-turned-consummate-live-musician Juliette Lewis, Tuesday’s show at The Echo exhibited an organic progression from one act to the next that no one could have expected.
Though the four members of Tahiti Boy and the Palmtree Family began their set more than half an hour after doors opened at 8:30 p.m., they played most of their songs to a crowd that — although visibly receptive to the group’s performance — still had a lot of bulking up left to do. By the end of the night, the tiny Echo Park venue would be packed to capacity with Juliette Lewis fans of all kinds, but most of those fans had yet to show up when the four started their whimsical rock set.
But the band embraced the intimacy of its performance; electric pianist and vocalist Tahiti Boy — he appears to go by nothing else — sat contentedly on an upturned milk crate for the duration of the group’s set, and members of the group individually engaged the audience, mouthing pleas to implore various acts of audience participation like clapping.
A high point in the set came when the entire band moved to the front of the stage to lead the audience in a rousing few lines of mob vocals. Despite clear unfamiliarity on the part of the audience with any of the group’s material, it was a credit to the band and its onstage charisma that more than a few people in the crowd were clearly doing their best to learn the lyrics on the spot.
English four-piece 22-20s, 75 percent of which elected to go the leather jacket route when dressing for the night’s performance, took the stage a quarter after 10 p.m. to greet a significantly larger crowd.
Headed up by singer-guitarist Martin Trimble, 22-20s is currently touring the United States in support of its recently released live EP, Latest Heartbreak. In its current manifestation, the band retains three members predating its dissolution in 2006: Trimble, drummer James Irving and bassist Glen Bartup.
Powerful, aggressive string work characterized 22-20s’ entire set. Trimble, Bartup and guitarist Dan Hare’s arrangement — clustered close together near the front of the stage — contributed to the sensation that the band was leading a charge against the audience, actively seeking to flatten the concertgoers with its deafening wall of sound.
The set’s loud parts were loud, the soft parts were also loud, and by the end of 22-20s’ performance, anyone with sense was frightened by Bartup’s bass guitar. But the group’s power was far from unrestrained. On the contrary, 22-20s presented one of the most controlled sets that has probably ever graced The Echo. Sometimes Irving’s percussion even felt incidental to the driving pace set by the two guitar parts and Bartup’s reverb-heavy bass lines.
Despite Trimble’s curt frontman persona — a shame, given his knee-weakening patently British inflection — 22-20s’ incredible sonic power spoke for itself.
By the time headliner Juliette Lewis took the stage, The Echo was probably only one or two heads away from drawing the attention of the local fire marshal.
Lewis, at one time best known for her roles in films like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Other Sister, is now a rocker, through and through. Though no longer a part of The Licks since 2009, she now performs and records with an inconsequential backup band called The New Romantiques.
In her incredibly high-energy set, Lewis wove through songs that, with a few announced exceptions, were familiar to her dedicated, feather headdress-wearing fan base.
Sporting skin-tight satin bellbottoms and some sort of shawl that resembled a freshly slain raven, Lewis tore through more than an hour worth of material, all the while thrashing around on stage like a Greek oracle on a wicked drug trip.
Though established fans probably knew precisely what to expect when they came out to The Echo Tuesday night, concertgoers unfamiliar with Lewis’ music were probably caught off guard to hear the former film star’s vocals, staggeringly powerful and surprisingly controlled.
In every respect, Lewis showed herself to be a consummate musician. For all her ethereal, Stevie Nicks-esque posturings, Lewis was as far from out of it: By whispering suggestions between songs that prompted her bandmates to adjust the frets on their guitars or start drumming their bongos with fingertips rather than maracas, Lewis let slip her intense consciousness of all aspects of her stage performance and revealed herself to be, if not a control freak, an exacting perfectionist, at the very least.
Lewis’ interactions with the sizeable crowd was indicative of the singer’s deep affection for her fans. Constantly leaning into the front rows — she leapt onto the floor at one point and put herself at the mercy of the throngs of rabid fans who seemed thrilled to just be dancing with her — and exaggerating each word of her vivid musical narratives with her pouty, expressive lips, Lewis’ set was very much for the fans.
In a surprise for the ages, The Echo’s unlikely Tuesday lineup — bringing together as it did three acts from three different nations playing three different subgenres of rock — made for a nice musical interlude.