The OC Music Awards at the Lab Last Night

Categories: OC Music Awards
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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Jan. 26, 2011
The Lab, Costa Mesa

Last night saw round two of the Best Live Acoustic Act category, and the competition was hit or miss. Of the five groups who performed, only two stood out.  Here's the breakdown.

Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
The Orange Effect: This amiable little quartet opened with three-part harmonies so pitch-perfect, it was almost jarring. And unlike most bands in this competition, they kept it totally acoustic. If there was one criticism to be leveled, it's that the soaring harmonies and melodies are a touch reminiscent of Local Natives. That's no sin in and of itself, but it seems in the wake of that band's rising profile that there are lots of indie bands currently mining this creative well.

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Brothers of the Castle: Holy shit, either Thin Lizzy singer Phi Lynott has been resurrected and cloned, or I'm hallucinating double. Just kidding, but co-vocalists/twin brothers David and Daniel Alcala  do bear a striking resemblance to the late rocker. But visual similarities is where the comparisons stop. These guys play a sappy brand of schmaltz pop that draws on influences from Coldplay, Burt Bacharach and Dave Mathews Band. There were moments when this band showed some genuine chops (at least one brother studied classical guitar in college), but they also seemed to have a problem gelling as a unit. Guitar intros would collide clumsily with keyboards, and the brothers' voices hit flat notes several times throughout the performance. And don't get me started on the lyrics "Don't worry, I won't let you down/I don't want to lost what I have found."

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
I Hate You Just Kidding: Standout band No. 2. This folksy foursome employed a small arsenal of instruments--including banjo, harmonica, ukelele and violin. And though they have chosen a musical configuration similar to Dusty Rhodes and His River Band, IHYJK flips the switch thanks to vocalist Jessi Fulghum. Instead of jamming the sanguine anthems found in Rhodes' work, this comely young lass weaves chill melodies with a youthful, high-pitched register mixed with the torch-song smokiness of an old soul. The music may not be incredibly uplifting, but the performance and chemistry between Fulghum and guitarist Jeremy Brock were compelling.

Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
The Case Brothers: I'll keep it short on this one. For some reason, this band had the best audience reaction of the evening, with several people shouting during the set and holding up lighters.The quartet specialize in nondescript, unplugged jams. Everybody played competently, and the singer was mostly on-key. But the standout song of their set was a cover of REM's "The One I Love." In fact, were it not for the vocalist's ridiculous get-up, I may have nothing to say about these guys. So Case Brothers lead singer, for wearing a black scarf with pinstriped, stretch flared pants and hair painstakingly configured to make it look like you don't pay attention to how you look, I thank you.

Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Fast Forward Romance: A boy/girl duo who can't decide if they're from OC or New York. Rumor has it vocalist Natalie Distler is an actress best-known for her work in the Dennis Leary FX vehicle Rescue Me. These two youngsters play a high-energy brand of hip-hop-infused pop that draws on influences from 311 to Fergie.  Call it suburban contemporary. For being just a vocalist with a guitar player, they actually sounded good. I was actually tapping my toes when the Weekly's interim music editor Danielle Bacher leaned over to me and said, "I feel like this music should be in a Pepsi commercial."

The Crowd: Lots of media photographers. A little more sparse than previous awards showcases, perhaps thanks to the Lab's shitty parking situation. Lots of pretty girls wearing elaborate boots. This truly is a golden age for crazy feminine footwear.

Overheard: "This is the greatest band of all time," said one belligerent fan into the microphone after clamoring onstage just before the Case Brothers' set.

Random Notebook Dump: A Wahoo's roach coach was serving $2 tacos. It seemed like they were stuffed with more food than the ones you buy in the restaurant.

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