It’s funny how the universe works sometimes. In 2012 I saw Dead To Me (along with Heartsounds) open for Hot Water Music at Slim’s in San Francisco. Fast forward about six years later — January, 5 2018 — I had the pleasure to once again see Dead To Me open for Hot Water Music, this time at The Regent Theater in Downtown LA.
The sold-out show started with local indie rock band Racquet Club, which features members of Samiam, Knapsack and The Jealous Sound. I had heard of the band, but had not heard their material until this show. After seeing them play songs like “Caldwell Park,” “Let Beauty Find You,” “New Granada” and “White Knuckles” it was clear that the genre “indie-rock” described them perfectly. Their material was much more mellow and melodic than the acts that were to follow them, and that was fine; they eased the audience into Dead To Me’s set.
Where do I even begin with Dead To Me? They have been one of my favorite bands for close to ten years, and it is always a mind-blowing experience to see them perform — this time included. Now that original singer/guitarist Jack Dalrymple is back in the band, their setlist focused much more on their first album Cuban Ballerina, their Little Brother EP and their latest material from their fantastic I Wanna Die In Los Angeles 7-inch. I’m really not one for jumping into a circle pit, but when the band began playing “Little Brother,” suddenly I was 18 again, running around in a circle, bashing into guys several inches taller and probably 50 pounds heavier than me. Dead To Me also blasted through “Ran That Scam,” “Don’t Wanna,” “Special Professional,” “Don’t Lie,” “Tune It Out,” “I Wanna Die In Los Angeles,” and “Splendid Isolation.”
During the brief pause of “Cause Of My Anger,” bassist Chicken Annicharico brought up a fan from the very front on stage to sing into the mic to get the song rolling again. Once that fan was done singing, he crowd surfed his way back into the mosh pit. The biggest treat Dead To Me gave the audience during their set was when they played a new song from their upcoming full-length American Son Of Cholo which is hands down my most anticipated release of 2018. Hearing this new tune just made me that more excited for the LP to finally come out. I have a feeling it’s going to be killer. Dead To Me ended their performance the absolute best way they could have by playing their classic anthem “By The Throat.” During the tension-filled build up of the song, Jack took off his guitar and Chicken gave him his bass to play. Then, Chicken took his mic and jumped into the pit to share the mic with whoever hung on to or got close enough to him for the big finish. I can’t wait to see them play again in February.
Hot Water Music took that stage around 11PM and already I could tell that this was going to be a very interesting, if not special performance. Singer/guitarist Chris Wollard was not on stage this night, and filling in was none other than Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners. Lead singer/guitarist Chuck Ragan prominently sang for most of the set, but it was really cool to see Cresswell’s take on playing HWM’s songs, even taking on lead vocals sometimes, most notably during “Trusty Chords.” The band’s full hour set included “Remedy,” “State Of Grace,” “The Sense” “Drag My Body,” plus a few new ones from their 2017 album Light It Up such as “Bury Your Idols,” “Sympathizer” and “Vultures.”
Overall, the band’s performance was absolutely stellar. Bassist Jason Black’s skills are always awesome to see live, especially when they played “Drag My Body.” Chuck Ragan did a fantastic job leading the performance with songs like “Remedy” and “State Of Grace,” and George Rebelo — whether he is playing with HWM or The Bouncing Souls — is always a great drummer. How Chris Cresswell was abel to learn and perform so many of songs in such a short amount of time is beyond me. He was one hell of a choice to stand in for Wollard. Not only is he a great frontman for The Flatliners, but this performance showed that he is just as good and reliable playing and singing back up. Once Hot Water Music finished their full hour set, they came back on stage to play “No Division” and “Wayfarer” for their encore. Especially after those two songs, no one could have gone home unhappy.