Inland Empire’s’ very own jazz infused psychedelic rock band, Brainstory, held their record release party on May 9 at The Echo in Los Angeles and we were there to catch the groovy affair in all its glory. An atmosphere highly taken over by what can only be seen as the thriving Latin indie scene in Los Angeles, was fueled with enough fun, funk and family to provide the ultimate feel good night set to a groovy soundtrack.
The crowds undoubtedly packed The Echo on a Tuesday night to experience a night of transcendent tunes, the unique blended line up of Chola Orange, É. Arenas and Brainstory shed a light on its foundational undertones of psychedelic masters that both complemented their sonic similarities, while also highlighting each individual bands ability to maleate the genre into a manifestation that is uniquely their own.
Opening up the talent-filled night was Chola Orange. A band whose music is mostly composed of instrumentals, one listen and the “psychedelic, space-funk, video game, horror movie soundtrack that you remember dreaming about in the future” prove that they have nailed their self proclaimed brand. I found myself in my own personalized 80’s sci-fi thriller while experiencing them live. They hold an ability to energetically take the audience through vivid, imaginative stories through just melodies, a special skill often sought but not always captured by live performances. They also brought out special guest Son of Cecil to provide some vocals for a few of their instrumentalized tracks.
The second opener of the night, É. Arenas, was a highly awaited one. While Eduardo Arenas may sound new as a stand alone name in the music game, his resume holds a cult-like following in the city of Angels, as well as shares a special connection with the night’s headlining band. The bassist for LA staple band Chicano Batman and a founder of EL Relleno Records, Eduardo produced the headliners latest EP release being celebrated that night that was put out through his founding label. An extremely common happening within community based music scenes, Kevin Martin, the guitarist and vocalist for Brainstory, is also a supporting band member of the E. Arenas solo project. Playing off of his fairly-recently released LP Nariz, one could clearly see the influence stem from sounds reminiscent of his notorious band, yet his new direction has interpreted many more fusions of various genres and drawn extremely heavy influence from tropicalismo in his solo project. Mixing in a few surprising remixes, like the incorporation of childhood favorite song Mana, Mana created a light-hearted, modern nostalgic twist throughout his set.
As the headlining band took the stage quickly after É. Arenas ended, in frankly the most immediate transition I have ever seen, the excitement of the night could be palpable as clapping and cheers took the place of music for a few moments. The familial metaphorical sentiment of the night cultivated into a literal one as the trio band took the stage, which began with two brothers, Kevin and Tony Martin and the later incorporation of longtime friend Eric Hagstrom. With continual smiles on their faces and interaction with their audience, a band whose creation was an organic connection through love of jazz and playing live played a set that can only be interpreted as destined for the trio.
While creating a band with no set agenda or plan can seem risky, especially in a music clad area like Southern California, Brainstory has taken a slightly different approach and proven that a genuine love for music and passion for transcendent live performance are factors that when executed from a good place, will produce a following and reputation on its own. Having ties away from a set agenda also seems to easily reflect in the versatility and flexibility of the sound development the band has contrived. The vibe of the entire night made this point easy to agree.
While many packed shows tend to find it’s filler time between sets to be a bit of a lightly dreaded wait time, the atmosphere this night was in heavy contrast. Tight spaces were met with many hellos and hugs between new and old friends, exchanges of favorite live show memories with the night’s performers and of course many occasional trips to the bar. It was a night that held the essence of a backyard show fueled with love and comradery between familiar communities, yet it was being held in a venue space. A quick glance around the very compact room were a mixture of excited fans, thrilled family members and supportive members from Los Angeles based collectives and bands such as Thee Commons, Chicano Batman, Q’Vole Collective, Las Cafeteras, EnClaveLA, Twin Seas, Lobalom and many more. Shout outs to friends, parents and dedicated fans were made and exchanged consistently throughout the sets and the night.
This is the beauty that the not at all new, yet new to a mainstream conscience, Latin indie scene in Los Angeles reigns supreme in maintaining. In large contribution, this has been due to the rise of togetherness between DIY bands, spaces, management and promotional teams that are creating new spaces within the music scene through intensive support. It was apparent that night that the scene is working to consistently create a new identity within a music scene that has always belonged to the area’s’ cultural make up, while also cultivating their inclusivity to the broader scope of the city overall.
Brainstory, their record release, and party are all markers of that generated effect. They have created their own musical journey and we’ve been simply invited to join them along for the trippy ride. With more of a collaborative sound than the first released EP, their music has evolved into a jazz infused, psychedelic storytelling trip reveling in lyricism that reflects upon true human memory and experience. Dialing down mystic hyperboles and metaphors from many typical forms of experimental music, the band has created a perfect fusion of raw and relatable human experience with transcendent melodies. If their record and release party was any indication of their upcoming future, i’d get in line fast to take a listen to their new EP and catch them live when they come to a city near you. They are one funk-tastic party you don’t want to miss.