For some unknown reasons indie band names split into three categories. Either they are as peculiar as possible… in about a month I am going to photograph a band because of its wonderful name Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, only later I discovered they actually sounds very good… bands go zoological and get their name from some rare animal species (did all musicians from Brooklyn wanted to be ethologists when kids?) or are quite unimaginative, as tonight.
Explanation may be articulate enough to ask the Indie Professor for help or as simple as down to the need of finding a remaining free slot to call their “.com” domain.
The Like comes very high into the banal category ranking second only because some presumptuous genius somewhere in Yorkshire had the idea to call a band The Music few years ago.
By the way, forget this intro. The Like are an all-girls indie-pop band from Los Angeles, California.
According to their biography they have been around since 2001, still in their early teens. Before Geffen signed them for the debut Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking? the girls clearly had some problem to find titles for their EPs as well. They got lost along the dramatic line invented by The Who (the landmark band for idiot name and idiot album names Who’s Next, Who Are You, Who’s Last and so on…) and called them I Like The Like (2002), …And The Like (2003) and Like It Or Not (2004). Someone stopped them in time and produced an indie-pop album which aimed to the Pretenders without getting very close to Chrissie Hynde.
So far the Like v1.0
Vanished for few years, the band reappeared recently in a totally new version. They called themselves as The Like v 2.0 due to a dramatic change of the line-up. They also changed label from Geffen to Downtown, both Universal subsidiaries.
Guitarist Elizabeth “Z” Berg and Drummer Tennessee Thomas stay as the original members, the original bassist left. Reni Lane joined but left. Laena Geronimo is the new bassist and, most important of all, Annie Monroe brings with her surname the big restyling the band underwent.
After touring with the Arctic Monkeys, The Like moved to New York to record the second album with Mark Ronson. In a word they got the gotha of the coolness of indie music in the coolest place.
Their 2010 image is a retro 60s look, used from the cover art to the last note of their new songs.
A vintage sound that goes back as far as when their grandparents were young and dancing in those halls depicted in old B&W pictures.
The songs are joyful, with choruses, high voices and the essential addition of Monroe organ.
From the insipid punk-pop of the beginning the new album, Release Me, sounds fresher and inspired. It doesn’t contain anything that hasen’t already appeared in the girl-pop revivals happening since the 50s, but Mark Ronson supplied a brilliant production which makes the album a very easy listening.
Their is not the music I go mad for, but this was definitely the kind of concert setting I’d go: three hundreds yards from my house, monday night, a Cambridge pub and the company of a friend.
The gig starts late enough to share half a margherita pizza, finish a pint of Guinness, check two support acts.
Actually it is noteworthy to say that the second of themgave the definitive proof that rock’n’roll is dead. The four well dressed, neat guys from Isaac’s Aircraft after a nice and sweaty set got to the bathroom, washed, changed shirts and sprayed deodorants on! Rock on!
With the smell of some cheap deodorant filling the front rows, at 22:20 the 4 girls finally get on the Haymakers stage.
From the first song I understand that The Like live doesn’t sound as crystalline and sharp as in the album. Not only their fault, bad luck adds its touch, Laena Geronimo‘s bass has a buzzy, noisy signal and she has to change her Höfner looking instrument with a working one. It will not be as good looking, for a band giving an important role to the image it’s not a detail.
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Elizabeth “Z” is quick to fill the void with a couple of acoustic tracks on voice and guitar supported by the other two girls. Nice.
The gig restarts on a mixed feeling of energy and repetitiveness. The songs work best when they go into their pop-infused world, with choruses, hand claps and, most important, the essential retro sound of the organ. The saviour of The Like v2.0 music.
Less than a hour later the gig gets to a close, without encore. It always gives me the sensation that playing Cambridge instead of London or Manchester still makes a difference to a band, which is not fair. It is true that the new look and new sound makes it difficult to fit the old songs in the set but a bit more would have been nice for the ones who waited two hours to see them.
The girls after the show stays with the fans chatting, signing records, checking mobiles on the small gig nice atmosphere with no-stardom. In a word, indie.
The Haymakers is a Cambridge pub, new to live music, that checks all the pub concerts pros and cons.
Nice and cosy, you are inches from the low stage, being as close as if you were drinking a beer with the musicians.
Some nice sets of backlights make this a pleasure to experiment some different photography.
The Haymakers is one of the best pubs I have seen for lighting. Front lights, back lights not a lot of reds.
Drums are on a pedestal quite on the back, stage is wide for the size of the room.
On a sold out night there may be problem to move along the front row, tonight it was perfect.
With The Like allowing me to shoot the whole show… I asked Elizabeth just before the start if she was happy with me shooting the entire set and she said it was cool… my only problem was resisting without headphones (don’t forget them!) for the entire set with my ears too close to the speakers.
It’s very hot inside. WIth the cold evening outside, I couldn’t use a telephoto that suffered from the cold-warm brusque change in temperature who covered my 70-200mm in mist. Basically not usable. Not a big problem, the 24-70mm was more than enough to cover all my needs, but in perspective I would have liked to try some telephoto silhouettes with those nice backlights. Next time. There are a lot of gigs coming here, including the Libertine Carl Barat and the epic Titus Andronicus which would make this one of the gigs of the year… in Cambridge.