My first encounter with Chrysta Bell was in August of 2012 at the Bootleg Theater. It was her first collaboration with David Lynch and the introduction of “This Train.” It was a sensation within the arts communities. A synthesis of music and motion picture fans found mutual ground to be a part of an unusual phenomenon by this former singer of 8 1/2 Souvenirs and a powerful director with stunning credits within the motion picture industry. Chrysta Bell, David Lynch’s alien ingénue, his muse, portrays his music as a dark ethereal netherworld of abstract passion and exotic delights. That night, David introduced Chrysta Bell with a white spotlight descending on his visage to an electrified audience ready to be seduced and taken as far as “This Train” could possibly take them. In that stark, sexually charged environment, we all met Chrysta Bell, and we were consumed by her mesmerizing presence and as the band played every song to perfection, as body against body, mounted closely against the stage to drink in the revelation presented to them in the back theater portion of the Bootleg Theater. It was one hot August night that begged for a follow up.
That follow up came last week at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s Masonic Lodge, a venue Chrysta Bell had perviously played four years earlier. The Masonic Lodge is an elegant place with history that suits the kind of experience the collaborations between Chrysta and David have manifested. My friend Jonas Navickas, who had invited me along for Chrysta Bell’s first performance, joined me this evening, because of our mutual devotion to the music and art that is Chrysta Bell.
We had settled in the back right side of the lodge waiting in lighting that was similar to twilight, we were talking and waiting for the band to open. A video performance started things off in an ominous way with tonal music and odd enticing visuals. Soon after its conclusion, a tall shrouded feminine figure quietly passed by us to halt three rows in front of us to reveal a package from underneath her cloak that appeared to be a gift. We watched with infinite curiosity as she then turned back in our direction to skillfully slip past our two seats to give an elderly man another gift wrapped package. She informed him it was his gift with a special surprise. She once again passed by us to the isle. Much to my surprise she then proceeded to the front and mounted the stage to step in-between both musicians holding the stage. It was Chrysta Bell who had been amongst us gifting two very fortunate people!
The performance started in earnest at this point, as Chrysta Bell launched into “Polish Poem,” shrouded in her hooded cloak. This time there was no formal introduction by David Lynch, but the show was far Lynchian than their first performance. The band was composed of a bass player and guitarist with additional music being directed through a Mac Book Pro. There was a kaleidoscopic video with exotic and erotic visuals that played throughout the hour-plus set. The audience was in rapture throughout as Chrysta sang Night Ride and This Train. She removed her robe before “Beat the Beat.” The band delivered their art in a cold and aloof way as Chrysta Bell burned ever brighter in a red sequined floral and latticed nude body suit. You could see and feel the sizzle as her perfect form undulated in and out of the light, as her silhouette found sparkle flashes of light and her skin slinked in and out of her passionate delivery of “Back Seat,” All the Things” and “Real Love.” She finished off the set with “Down By Babylon” and “Somewhere in the Nowhere.” Then she left the stage and her band mates remained.
She returned a few minutes later with someone else in tow. The band sparked up “Swing With Me,” when it became apparent other musician was David J (Bauhaus and Love and Rockets), adding some real chops to Chrysta Bell’s finale. The song leaned in and lumbered heavily, with deep driving bass and Chrysta’s sultry vocals.
The band closed and took the bows, with all getting their proper introductions just before they exited the stage to drift to the backstage. Both me and my friend Jonas agreed it was unfortunate that David Lynch wasn’t there to elevate the mystique of the band, but both of our observations concluded it was the most Lynchian of the two shows we have seen together. David J. joining in the encore added an unexpected element of authenticity endorsing Chrysta Bell in both the artistic and musical worlds with cinematic authority rarely found in a musical ensemble. It was great music skillfully delivered, and most of all it was an exceptional experience to witness.