Concert Review – Big Business at The Bootleg Theater

With Andy The Doorbum and Tweak Bird

On Saturday, September 30th, the metal two-piece, Big Business — comprised of bassist/vocalist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis — performed at The Bootleg Theater in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Originally from Seattle, WA, Big Business relocated to Los Angeles in 2006, after joining the Melvins until 2015. As Big Business, Warren and Willis have released 5 full-length albums, with the most recent, Command Your Weather, having come out in 2016.

Big Business had two openers at this show. The first act was Tweak Bird, a Los Angeles-local grunge/heavy rock two-piece. Here’s a link to their Bandcamp, if you’re interested.

Andy The Doorbum came up next. His aesthetic certainly matched his name; tattered clothing and haphazardly applied white face paint made Andy look part bum, part dilapidated circus clown. His grumbly Tom Waits-esque vocals were paired with slow and somber prerecorded music, which he sang over. Stage lights set low, at times completely shut off, Andy used a small flashlight to illuminate his face from below as he sang — as if he was telling a dramatic campfire horror story. One standout song involved Andy gruffly wailing, “You are shit! You are shit!”

Andy The Doorbum performs at The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 30th. Photo by Stephanie Meade.

He ended his set with a brief call for resistance against oppressive powers, before his exiting line, “I am Andy The Doorbum and art is my weapon.”

Big Business

The first thing that often strikes people about Big Business is, “A metal two piece? But how?” and let me tell you, for two dudes they make A LOT of noise. With Warren’s powerful vocals and heavy bass riffs accompanied by Willis’ INSANE drum skill, Big Business is a heavy metal dream team to rival larger line-ups. Willis was constantly bombarding the audience with his drumming, showcasing his impressive stamina and speed — just an incredible performer who was a delight to watch. He did contrast heavy drumming with delicate bells on the left side of his set. Compared to the rest of the percussion, the brass bells sounded like sweet little chimes in “Last Legs,” the opening track on their newest record. The bells were also prominently featured in “Blacker Holes” from Command Your Weather which they performed that evening as well.

Coady Willis of Big Business performing at The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 30th. Photo by Stephanie Meade.

About halfway through the set, Warren traded his bass for a small keyboard setup. He then asked the crowd, “So…Do you guys like Billy Joel covers?” The woman next to us screamed “NO,” but this got me thinking. Recently, I have come to the realization that modern pop music (which, let’s face it, now spans many genres) has influenced metal more than one might assume, especially experimental metal — from Thou covers of Nirvana, to the increasing use of electronic elements and slowed down/deconstructed pop melody across metal groups. This is most apparent is the recent releases from The Body. What The Body call “pop” others may call “unbearable,” but the influence is undeniable. (FYI The Body is my favorite metal band right now — also a two-piece — also killer). I’m really digging this postmodernist approach to music that newer metal has embraced.

And so, I guess Big Business performed a Billy Joel cover. It was arranged to the point where it was not recognizable to me, but then again I am no Billy Joel expert. Alright, you caught me, I’m not even a casual Billy Joel fan. But, it was heavy. And that’s all that mattered.

After that, they immediately went into one of their greatest tracks, “Another Beautiful Day in The Pacific Northwest.”

Warren then brought back his bass which he played for the rest of the set.

Improvised interludes gave the set a nice loose feel, with Warren and Willis playing around and experimenting with sound. At one point, Warren began to build a textured, rhythmic melody by looping and layering vocals — “bebobabababebobebobabababa” — over which Warren sang, “I’m sick of angry white men!”

It was fun.

Jared Warren of Big Business plays keyboards with his forehead at The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 30th. Photo by Stephanie Meade.

It is a rare thing to be so close to the musicians at a show that you can see what underwear they have on (Warren: plaid boxers. Willis: Calvin Klein boxer briefs). At The Bootleg, every show is an intimate experience. It has become one of my favorite venues in the city, free parking is a plus, and they have a full bar. You’re not going to catch any huge acts here, but for lesser known or up and coming artists, this is a choice venue to connect with musicians.