Tucked away amidst the bustle of MacArthur Park and in the shadows of the downtown skyline sits Levitt Pavilion, site of a whopping 50 show free summer concert series.
On Thursday night, Los Angeles’ own The Regrettes took to the Levitt band shell to play a blistering set of the same brand of punk pop that got these high schoolers signed to a major label in advance of taking their SATs.
Another up and coming LA group, The Tracks, started the night’s festivities led by Venancio Bermudez, whose sturdy vocals meld a bit of Brit Pop with the soar of Matthew Bellamy’s pipes. Add in his tightly-knit band, and there is little doubt that The Tracks will headline their own gigs around town before year’s end.
By the time night fell, a full on crowd had convened on the hillside under white lights strung between the park’s trees. While the congregation felt like a legitimate cross-section of the city’s residents, it was on the younger faces that you could see the joy of summer. It was an energy that blended seamlessly into that coming from the stage when The Regrettes started the show with the lead track off their LP, Feel Your Feelings Fool!, “I Don’t Like You.”
In The Regrettes’ songs, equality and empowerment are foregone conclusions (as they should be). Instead, lead singer Lydia Night unleashes a barrage of biting wit to make up for lost time. And boy, I mean girl, does she ever.
When she spits, “I’m not being bossy, I’m saying how I feel / And I’m not a bitch for stating what is real,” you sit up straight. When she sings, “You must be oh so shocked, because you’ll never be the key to my lock,” you end up disappointed – and blushing. Then she puts you in your place: “You’re talking to me like a child, hey I’ve got news, I’m not a little girl, and no I won’t give you a little twirl.”
The shared confidence among The Regrettes is noteworthy, especially when you consider that some band members could very well have had to catch a ride to MacArthur Park because they can’t legally drive. Their Facebook page lists their interests as “witchcraft, snapchat and ice cream.” Even if they can drive, this is not your typical band of 17 year olds whose mom pokes her head in to the garage to ask them, for the love of god, to please turn it down.
Drummer Maxx Morando’s fills, Genessa Gariano’s lead guitar, and Sage Chavis’ upright presence at bass coalesce into a swift kick to the groin, though it is quite a melodic one. There was no better example of this than during, “Hot,” where tempo turned on a dime, harmonies appeared, disappeared, then reappeared, and Night casually eviscerated another subject.
“Picture Perfect” contained dirty riffing from Gariano, as the supremely confident front woman worked the front row like a politician. By the song’s midpoint, the barefoot Night was shaking hands with young kids sitting atop their parents’ shoulders, and then without hesitation, leapt down in to the pit to be among the people.
Another highpoint came via the one-two combo of “A Living Human Girl,” and “Bronze.” The former saw Chavis in a stoic form that resembled Mrs. Drago, with the song ending in a final kiss off to a futile request for a date: “Oh I fall in love with people once a day, Oh but if you ask me out, I’m still allowed to say… no way.”
In “Bronze,” Morando’s thrashing resulted in levitation off of his stool. For the last half of the song, he attacked his kit while standing, bent over 90 degrees at the waist.
Late into the performance, the plainly-titled “You Won’t Do” was a frenzied banger. On the opposite end of the spectrum – an area less explored to date by the band – was “Pale Skin.” The moody number was noticeably slower than other song selections, and perhaps is an indicator of what might come down the road from The Regrettes.
In closing their set, a well-placed cover of The Sweet’s classic “The Ballroom Blitz” kicked off like a car chase after Night encouraged the crowd to “sing along if you know it, dance if you don’t.”
While some families took in the finale sprawled out on blankets under the trees, others took Lydia Night’s recommendation to heart, as mini-mosh pits sprung up down in front. With gentle shoves replacing elbows, however, societal evolution was evident everywhere.
The Regrettes at Levitt Pavilion Setlist
I Don’t Like You
Juice Box Baby
Ladylike / WHATTA BITCH
A Living Human Girl
How It Should Be
You Won’t Do
The Ballroom Blitz