Last Night: OC Music Awards Showcase, Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa

The Hype: The OC Music Awards has to be one of the cooler things going on around here. From now until the big bash March 6 at the Grove of Anaheim, it features a slew of free weekly showcases featuring the county's best bands. Tuesday's roster included the Union Line, which won an OC Music Award last year for Best Live Band and dropped a winning set recently in front of a full house at Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest

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Christopher Victorio
Packed House at Detroit Bar

The Show: The Union Line continues to impress with their richly textured songs marked by warm vocal harmonies and sunny melodies offset by tough percussion. The ensemble has a natural affinity for the stage and easily won over the throngs of people who successfully wormed their way within viewing distance of the band. The Union Line's charisma and smart, most catchy songs make me wonder how much longer we'll be able to catch them at free shows in cozy rooms like Detroit Bar and Gypsy Lounge. 

Yellow Red Sparks performed just before the Union Line and although their songs are whispery and thick with pathos and not exactly best suited for a jam-packed club filled with booze-fueled hipsters, they managed to rise above the din with sheer emotive oomph. I walked in about midway through Melanoid's set and immediately was impressed by John Hanson's vocals, which sounded pained, fragile and powerful all at once. I missed opener Kiev and by the time Make Moon, which seemed like nice guys and I learned live near me and who I told I would stick around to watch, were to come on after the late-running Union Line around midnight but by then my mind had filled with pesky thoughts of 7 a.m. blogging and much-needed sleep. Sorry guys!

The Crowd: Everyone in Orange County who goes to places like Detroit Bar looks hipper and prettier and more handsome than what I'm used to rubbing elbows and splashing drinks with at similar Florida shows and that's not a bad thing. Not at all. And seeing a good-sized room filled with local music enthusiasts--watching quality bands--made me happy to be here. Dan Perez and Lauren Salamone of the New Limb, which perform at the Feb 16 Gypsy Lounge OCMA showcase, and Pop Noir's Luke McGarry, were among the local musicians I chatted with who were in attendance. 

Overheard: "I've never seen this place so packed!" said more than one concertgoer.



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