The Bootleg Bar in Historic Filipinotown was a good place to be last night. A wine and beer bar as well as a theatre, the Bootleg is a venue with chill vibes and draws in a hip, respectable crowd for live music. Known for grabbing acts on the verge of blowing up and presenting them to the public, the Bootleg always provides a classic space for a wide variety of talents and sounds. Last night, Motive, Kera and The Lesbians, and So Many Wizards convinced a crowd of happy young people to slip into their dancing shoes.
Motive, a New York-based band self-described as “dirty rock,” opened the show with some extremely diverse rock tracks, guided by relentless drums and heavy guitar and bass. Influences abound, this band ranged from sounding like the acid-tripping cousin of Cake to what the Strokes would sound like if Julian Casablancas could sing through a cheeky smile. What made their music stand out even more was how cohesive their group dynamic was, and how distinct each member’s character was, including a gentleman who wore a helmet the entire set and threw it out to a screaming crowd at the end of their final track. They were extremely charming and this, along with the clever juxtaposition of their starched suits with the grit of their sound, made them a treat to watch and enjoy. By the end of their set, during their song “Burn Down Brooklyn,” a series of rock ‘n’ roll explosions about loving and hating Brooklyn, this reporter observed the majority of the crowd dancing.
Kera and The Lesbians, one of the most interesting live acts this reporter has ever seen, played next. Their charismatic lead woman brought infectious enthusiasm to not only the sultry, bluesy folk rock Elvis Presley only wishes he had created, but to the actual performance, which was simultaneously theatrical and genuine. Kera’s androgynous presentation and velvety voice, along with the sheer talent of her bandmates, made the entire audience fall in love. Their variety of sound was impressive, with one gentleman with a majestic, waxed mustache switched off playing not only trumpet and trombone, but also an egg shaker. Kera and The Lesbians took the crowd on a journey through lush sounds so reminiscent of California the chords were practically bleeding sunshine; their, what they describe as “bipolar folk,” ranged in sound from big band swing to surf pop, gritty country, and fifties love ballads. The entire experience was bright but sensuous, groovy but polished, and it was heartening to see a band that knows how to have an abundance of fun all the while cranking out jam after jam.
By the time So Many Wizards took the stage, much of the audience had departed for the night or were outside quenching their thirst for nicotine on the back patio, but the group played on to a smaller but even more enthusiastic crowd, including Kera, a still buzzing, smiling, and dancing machine. So Many Wizards is an indie rock collage of fast, groovy beats reminiscent of a mixture of Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, and some blues mashed together into a rockin’ dance party. Echoing vocals, dreamy lyrics, and steady drum beats threw the last twenty or so audience members into a pit of swinging arms and tapping feet. They, like Motive and Kera and The Lesbians, were a great example of a band working together in a way that makes every sound work exactly how it should; they were excited, high-energy, clever, and really connected with the audience and helped facilitate a great connection between all of the members of the audience itself. With great vibes and an explosive conclusion to their set, So Many Wizards were truly impressive and definitely worth staying to hear.