Concert review - Abandoned Pools

The family tree of Los Angeles rock took root Saturday at the Roxy Theatre. One band begat another, and some of the musicians were like the agile gardeners of the Sunset Strip. Six degrees of separation; three groups with dedicated local followings.

Abandoned Pools were the headliners, a phantasm of a project that emerges from the studio on average every six years or so. Theirs is a sonic marriage of Smashing Pumpkins and a bit of tenderheartedness, courtesy of former Eels bassist Tommy Walter.

Half his crew moonlighted in another band on the roster: 2ndwheel featured one of the guys from Lifehouse and strong-armed radio-ready sincerity into punchy riffs. Playing after them were 8mm, a mainstay in the modern Sunset Strip sound. Led by the ferocious, sexy Juliette Beavan, the outfit pounded through Garbage-esque numbers. It's a vibe carefully crafted by guitarist/singer/hubby to Juliette Sean Beavan, who's mixed for Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails.
Though the crowd dwindled by the time AP took the stage, they were a devoted lot. A duo of enthused women had their wishes granted when Walter dedicated the upbeat yet woebegone "Sailing Seas" to them.

The show seemed to be bogged down by volume-balance issues, but that may have been the venue's fault, not that of the hard-charging band's. Walter and company plugged away genially on a setlist that covered the scope of their three albums. The more serious, melodic pieces from their latest, Sublime Currency (Tooth & Nail), provided reflective moments for both artist and audience. "Autopilot" told the story of Walter's WWII-hero father and how the battle permanently scarred him.

Most of the performance was brisk. The front man touted his snazzy black jacket, saying that even though it was 90 degrees outside, the jacket was going to stay on (and it did). He wore it like a knight's chest plate, battling personal demons that he and his family have had to face this past year. Sublime Currency, and the Roxy gig overall, is a triumph in the wake of tragedy.

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