DUSTIN LOVELIS and DON’T TRIP

           Friday, March 7th, 2014
Dawson at East 4th Street, Long Beach

     Adequacy to the task of tendering due appreciation to a modestly underposted, yet packed-to-bursting performance by Dustin Lovelis, is not a given. Thoughtful compositions replete with verve and dynamics, this isn’t some backing track fluff to your buzz. The man on the mic elicits your full attention, as does the entire band: Brian Andrews (keyboards); Justin Ivey (The Fling, drums); Tess Shapiro (Dovelles, backup vocals); and Eli Thompson (Everest, bass). Vivid and in full color, every song not only engages, but enthuses. Just seven months off Mean Something–The Fling’s laudable, and latest LP, a solo album from their singer, songwriter, and guitarist, is about to see light; and if this show was any indication, Dimensions will be a bright one.
     Opening with a vibrantly electric number, woven through which a scintillant variation of the best of all possible alternate-world Neil Youngs was strongly suggested, the unwavering tenor of the upbeat cheer was set. Two more tunes of no less sparkle followed, mellowing down for another pair. The next piece was dedicated to the woman on backup, she of Dovelles renown, a blithely grooving serenade from which, pleasantly, the melody of one line, with every vocal intonation still intact, sticks in my head: “underneath the sea”. Following on this, Eli’s bass still to the fore–but without monopolizing, such was the dialed-in quality of the mix–the amperage was elevated, just enough to further showcase the distinctive accent of Dustin’s guitar. A featured synth sound redolent of a toy piano in excelsis, worked to skillful purpose in the penultimate track; and, closing out their set brought the glorious tones of a steel guitar, subtle emanations provoked, perhaps, into being, by deft placement of a clip onto the neck of the guitar. Supported by smart moves on drums by Justin, if the show must be over, this was an apt choice for a finale. It’s a fair bet there are more melodies where these came from, the gentleman at stage center a genuine wellspring of tunes.
     While Dustin’s buoyant sound could never be said to actually wind down, as they approached their closing notes, an untoward drama flared up behind the site sparking a bit of interest in the crowd, an incident of an unforeseen–and unbilled, limelight. Eventually, this was hashed-out by the city; but not before the kindling of red-letter impressions aplenty were fired up amongst the party, aglow and agog, at the back window, suspending attention, but definitely not suspense. — Though normally I would be chary to pitch black humor, when illumined against newsflash inked in April 1st–edict of the cause of the night’s scene–the mitts are off: I submit that inflamed retort to this indecorously caustic eruption–this blazonry–might be considered in light of the peril to which small neighborhood animals are subjected by arbitrarily thoughtful humans: park yer pets clear of yer dabbling lab!–especially when butane is present, gawdammit; ’cause that isn’t funny.
     Radiant intermission having tapered into a minor collapsar, the glint of its intrigue simmering in Cimmerian subsidence, seriously proggy trio Don’t Trip (guitar, drums, and bass — www.facebook.com/donttriplb) took the floor and went straight into the crisp and tortured brevity of three smoking tracks, no mere contact incendiaries, these; a set of tripped-out strains–and I mean strained, contortedly referencing jazz, throughout which percussive irregularities proved a kick; evolutions of complexly involuted calculi coiled around an electric six-string cacophony, pullulantly budding toward indulcet, though dextrously facile post-graduate computations one could follow–but only just–each instrumental pulling you further into the realization that there may never be any ‘Ah!’ moment of apprehension into the schizoid cerebrations of their sonics.
     In essaying an apt conclusion to the second song, variables having exhausted constants, they hit the feel of a fugitive X-factor snag, perhaps a disarticulation of the corpus for the sheer pleasure of putting it back together (or does a facepalm of absolution devolve upon me for rank impercipience of intent?); when, emerging from a brevity of dissuasion, having closed that chapter, they picked up for the final track waving polynomial aloft; all flats sharpened; new postulate advanced.  Plummeting into the final song’s white noise meltdown of a guitar at integral variance with harmony, the band harried their notes down the circuit board toward the Enter key; this, sustained unto being championed throughout the set, by a veritably monumental pillar of electric bass playing of a wicked competency, the first time I’ve witnessed the shredding of that instrument, only smoldering remnants of which survived to the terminal notes in the ashen wake of unlawful music theory: the wastage was total.
     Meanwhile, the treat of an environing local color served as backdrop for both bands to play against, a montage of mixed media, variously carved, painted, sculpted, and otherwise wrought by artist Rachel Hillberg (www.rachelhillberg.com), the motif of recreated domesticities, prominent. Other forms, in various removes of development, or dissolution–the option of which was left to the beholder’s imagination–were on offer, her display crowned by an especially notable piece mysteriously designated ‘2931 A’, a surrealized domicile both quaint and fantastic; and very literally off the wall, right out of what had been the irreplicable imagination of one Ted Geisel; who, late of a certain disquieting breakfast travelog of storied undesire, left, it might seem, one specimen out of his oeuvre. Detailed here by the artist, en bois, with the grinning esprit of the momently moonstruck, the spectator preceding you knows, with almost a smirk, that you did a double take–and smiled pleasurably in receipt of the moment.
     Although seen through the liquid lens of a stout and dusky elixir that effectively distilled a late czarist period of a certain cult infamy, record of the scene remains inviolate: A tight and focused unit, with no shortfall of the snap of any seasoned band, Dustin and confreres come through clearly, and with brio. They have that presence; and you could watch the set over and sense no repetition: the conjuration of spring is upheld with no ebb of its freshet. Nuanced coloratively, playing with a prismatic dazzle, the band produces a first-rate show: If you came away feeling a jubilance imparted, it should be no surprise. This is the elemental appeal that a performer with a passion for his art gives; and for my money–though it was free–this moves me as much as the tunes themselves, the straightforward allure of a good-natured, down-home realness. Beckoning, it draws in the audient, rapt ~ as if the strength of the songs hadn’t already.

 

     While impatiently watching for the incoming tide, I’ll be tuning in to ‘Dustin Lovelis Music’ (that’s:  www.facebook.com/dustinlovelismusic) for hopeful release updates of his Dimensions LP. An additional concert was listed on Farcebook for March 29th; to which, though publicized, one guesses actual invites were secret, as the show–four bands–was without benefit of an apprehensible location in objective space: a phantom gig. Perhaps Parched Party Records will pony up for an address in the future, and have the simple grace to do justice to the artists they profess to promote, and not teaser us a concert that is closed to the public. I’d genuinely like to see Mr. Lovelis’ outfit again, sooner rather than later; and, though not billed in that riddlesome bulletin, the same regard applies to Don’t Trip. Here’s hoping, with amethystine glass held high, that future performances, under different auspices, will be in this…dimension.

 

-Sonja Fjord