I See Hawks in LA’s inspired performance at the Redwood last weekend illuminated the heartfelt expressions and talent of this venerable Los Angeles country outfit in a downtown bar that has become one Los Angeles’ premiere destinations for rock and roots acts. Supporting “New Kind of Lonely,” the band’s sixth release in 12 years, I See Hawks delivered an electric performance of its first acoustic record.
Perched on a cozy stage just 8 inches high with only instruments and mic stands separating musicians from crowd, the band delivered personal, introspective explorations of love lost and found, regret and redemption, and celebration. A love for California’s natural beauty and mistrust of man’s existential threat to it permeate their music and reflect their conflicted feelings of Los Angeles’ endless sprawl. “Highland Park Serenade,” an ode to their Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood, beautifully captures this theme: “Slow down Figueroa, you are breathing too fast. Twenty miles of boulevard in a town that can’t last. Wake up at night to hear Saturday sounds, helicopter, helicopter” in the first verse eventually leads to a Spanish serenade of “te amo, te amo.” The band’s celebration of natural California expressed in “Bohemian Highway” brings the late Gram Parsons and his psychedelic Joshua Tree excursions to mind.
I See Hawks is fronted by singer and acoustic guitarist Rob Waller. His laconic, wry demeanor and bellowing voice captures a man sensitive to and resigned to life’s duality and conflicts. Paul Lacques is an exceptionally talented guitarist equally adept on the Fender Telecaster and lap steel guitar. His complex picking and guitar runs appear effortless and never smack of effort. The rhythm section of Kevin Jarvis on drums and Paul Marshall on bass lays a freight train foundation that is driving yet sensitive. Both are music veterans with Jarvis formerly supporting Lucinda Williams and Grant Lee Phillips and Marshall being an early member of Los Angeles psychedelic legends The Strawberry Alarm Clock.
One of the most appealing traits of this band is the intangible character that can only come from being together ten-plus years. The stage conversations between songs, audible to all in the intimate environment of the Redwood, were hilarious. Confusing the song title “Your Love is Going to Kill Me” for the album title “A New Kind of Lonely” and the rambling explanation that followed and a hushed discussion about ordering calamari from the stage for eating later to save $3 while it was still happy hour had this reviewer in stitches.
I See Hawks have two more Los Angeles performances prior to hitting the road to promote their new record in venues across California and a few east coast shows. These LA shows could not be in more disparate venues: Firefly in South Pasadena, a charming, up-scale bistro destination for foodies; and Cheetah’s, a “bikini bar?” in Hollywood. I See Hawks in LA’s catalog is available for purchase via CD from their website and downloads are accessible via iTunes and Emusic.com.
Wednesday, April 11 – Firefly Bistro
Address: 1009 El Centro Street, South Pasadena
Venue phone: (626) 441-2443
Thursday, April 12 – Cheetah’s Hollywood
Address: 4600 Hollywood Boulevard LA CA 90027
Venue phone: (323) 660-6733.