Let us take a moment to recognize the efforts of The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. Unlike similar nearby venues such as The Satellite, The Echo and The Silverlake Lounge, this unmarked venue on Beverly Blvd. is meticulous about sound and space - providing just the right volume, leveling the instruments and ensuring an all-around pleasant listening experience.
This appreciation for live music is crucial, especially for bands such as TV Girl and Princeton who rely heavily on layering sound and uncommon instruments that require supplementary support.
By 9:45PM, the venue was comfortably packed to welcome TV Girl as their soundcheck revealed the fun foley clips they integrate into their songs, like the nostalgic recording for read-along tapes and a sample of Todd Rundgren. TV Girl charmed their onlookers with funny bits about guitarist, Brad Petering’s, recently bleached (and slightly orange) hair and shamelessly plugging their 7”. These guys didn’t have to try hard to grasp everyone’s attention - their dynamic late 60’s surf rock-meets-70’s sequins style kept the set fresh and fun, incorporating suspenseful escalations and passing through songs fluidly, maintaining a sufficient balance. Their set sustained equilibrium through performing songs from their first 2 E.P’s as well as new songs. “I Wonder Who She’s Kissing Now,” a funky toned extended metaphor with their signature surf-y electric guitar riffs and singer, Trung Ngo’s, boyish allure smoothed the road for old favorite “Lizzy Come Back To Life,” a faster paced song with a grungy drumtrack undertone and Brad’s monotone vocal style. Brad and bassist, Joel Williams, made the delicate process of swapping instruments seem simple by their leisurely guise while Trung focused on levels and build-ups. TV Girl concluded their set with “It Evaporates,” a time machine that takes you back to Prom 1967 as this ballad sways and uncontrollably elicits a smile - something even Trung could not escape.
Princeton confidently approached the stage like it was home and switched out TV Girl’s colorful lighting for a bright white spotlight. Despite playing all new songs from their upcoming record (set for release February 21), save for “Worried Head” and “Clamoring Your Heart,” these leading men still had the crowd dancing and energetically clapping along. Standing at a set of keyboards, Jesse Kivel commanded the stage with twin brother and guitarist, Matt, managing to create a sound that is mellow in concept but subconsciously moves your feet. Princeton was simple on stage: aside from exchanging glances, Ben Usen (keyboards) and David Kitz (drums) merely moved their hands to play their respective instrument while Jesse shuffled in place. Although there was no trumpet (like recordings suggest), we were graced with a clarinet and violin as soon as Jesse invited friends Christina and Patrick of the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble (LANME) to contribute their classical skills, especially necessary in “Holding Teeth.” “Clamoring For Your Heart” ended night two of Princeton’s residency with handsome Morrisey-like vocals and keyboard drippings.
The only thing missing from this night were tailored suits and Ed Sullivan…but there are still two more nights of Princeton’s residency - anything is possible!
Also published on IndieRockReviews.com: Princeton / IRR