Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ The Observatory


PHOTOGRAPHY Julian de la Celle
WORDS Paige Vreede


     Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Death From Above 1979, and Deap Vally - a conglomerate, albeit talented, group of musicians - came together last week at The Observatory in Orange County to turn our mundane Monday into a meaningful Monday filled with Rock 'n' Roll. 


     Due to unforeseen complications at the door, unfortunately, we were only able to catch the last two songs of opening band, Deap Vally. Guitarist, Lindsey Troy, announced they had merchandise for sale, but that “Julie [Edwards'] daughter is not for sale”, a tiny bub who was being held next to me while adorably clapping in oversized blue headphones. Had I not previously seen them perform two weeks prior, I would have been completely devastated to miss this fierce duo. 


Death From Above 1979’s Jesse F. Keeler's colossal bass riffs and Sebastian Grainger’s thunderous drumming and high-pitch vocals, exists within a sub-genre of its own, to the tune of “Metal Disco” and “Dance Punk”. Strobe lights overwhelming emit from the stage almost as consistently as Grainger’s bass drum, while a continuous energy exuded from the duo. The audience fell into a ramshackle of one-two-step dance moves, while simultaneously mosh-pitting – a sight I had admittedly never bared witness to. 


     To my surprise, the crowd had seemingly become smaller once DFA79 finished, which allowed for a much more intimate experience for headliners, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. If you’ve ever been tempted to find the Bonnie to your Clyde, steal a car, and rob a bank, BRMC would certainly be the soundtrack to your rebellious endeavor. Their noise rock infused with Rock 'n' Roll elements lends itself as ideal rebel outlaw music. Only four songs in, BRMC performed one of their most popular tunes, “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo”, and the intimate crowd, the truly dedicated fans, had every lyric rolling off their lips. There was minimal dialogue between song transitions – which featured both old and new songs such as, tribute “Let The Day Begin”, and infectious “Spread Your Love” - and the fluidity of their set sent us on a poignantly beautiful rollercoaster of subtle hip sways and unapologetic mosh pits. 


     Guitarist and vocalist, Peter Hayes had a lit cigarette poking out of the head of his guitar, and would occasionally take a drag or two when he wasn’t busy singing or strumming enrapturing guitar riffs. Leah Shapiro vigorously rumbled on the drums, while synchronously possessing a calm disposition. A very effervescent bassist, guitarist and vocalist, Robert Levon Been, stomped his boot onto the ledge of the stage and incessantly kept knocking over his mic stand. He crouched into his Epiphone Rivoli ll, and at one point, began strumming with his microphone. The crowd flocked to him like seagulls chasing bread on the beach and immediately began snapping away on their smart phones. Everything about BRMC’s demeanor was congruent with the growling, multi-layered ambiance they were delivering. As the set came to an end, Been threw his guitar pick into the crowd and a voracious man in the front row nearly broke his skull in pursuit for it, and a beautiful young woman tossed roses onto the stage. They ended their set with “Whatever Happened To My Rock N Roll (Punk Song)” and though BRMC left the stage questioning what happened to it, it was apparent the crowd had just found it.