The Odist, Chicano Batman, Bella Novela, Free Moral Agents at Alex's Bar Friday Night

Sarah Bennett
Free Moral Agents

The Odist, Chicano Batman, Bella Novela, Free Moral Agents
April 22, 2011
Alex's Bar, Long Beach

Alex's Bar was packed full of people who looked like they were there by accident--it was just another Friday night in a cool bar and four awesome bands just happened to be playing in the background. The night got off to a slow start and then set times began to spill over but in the end, when headliners Free Moral Agents got up on stage, everyone was ready for them.

Sarah Bennett
The Odist
First openers were Atlanta-based experimental/instrumental prog rock band The Odist, who were discovered by Free Moral Agents' Ikey Owens. He apparently was so impressed with them that he picked them up for a full tour (Alex's Bar was the last stop) and offered to produce their second album. They were quite impressive Friday night--The Odist has one of the most ferocious female drummers I've ever seen. "If Prince saw her playing tonight, she'd be in his band by tomorrow," a friend whispered to me as we watched her play barefoot and in a tutu.

Sarah Bennett
Bardo Martinez from Chicano Batman

La Mirada's Chicano Batman followed the Odist, wearing their signature baby blue tuxedo shirts, playing music that blends Brazilian tropicalia, Mexican cumbia, Chilean funk, even American psychedelia. Singer/guitarist/keyboardist Bardo Martinez--whose keyboard sits on top of an old ironing board--apologized for technical difficulties, asking if anyone could lend them some cables. Their set ended all too soon and they asked the bar's sound guy for one more song. When their request was denied--the night was already behind schedule--the audience whined and booed and Chicano Batman left the stage with smiles on their faces.

Sarah Bennett
Gabriel Villa of Chicano Batman

After the show they told us that that was their last public performance in L.A.--today, they move to Brazil!

Alex's finally filled up just in time to hear Long Beach's favorite trio, Bella Novela. They played high energy, highly dramatic songs from their upcoming record, a rock opera about the end of the world. They announced they'll be recording in July, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Even though the album hasn't been recorded yet, the audience somehow seemed to know every song, and hung on to every word belted out by Jackie Ojeda.

Sarah Bennett
Free Moral Agents

It was already around 1 a.m. when Free Moral Agents began to set up on stage. The crowd looked a little tired after sitting through three sets but waited patiently for them to pull it together and get started.

Sarah Bennett
Free Moral Agents

"It feels so good to be home and see all of you," said Free Moral Agents vocalist Mendee Ichikawa as the crowd pushed up to the stage. 

They opened with "When I Smile," building slowly until the drums and bass kick in and hit you square in the face. Ichikawa danced against Ikey Owens' keyboards, with the mic cord wrapped around her neck like a feather boa, and her hair whipping across her face. Best of the set was "North is Red," the first track off Control This. "North is Red" inspired the audience to follow Ichikawa's lead and dance. Either touring for weeks didn't wear the band down at all, or they just saved all their energy for their homecoming show--they sounded as tight as ever and Long Beach welcomes them home.

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