Gram Rabbit

What’s Up Doc?

Gram Rabbit
Presented by KCRW
SOhO Bar and Restaurant
Sunday June 1, 2008

Reviewed by Jessica Hilo

Experiencing a new generation of psychedelia puts a bit of the “blundering down the rabbit hole” feel into what would have been another quiet Santa Barbara Sunday. But such is the evening when Joshua Tree natives, Gram Rabbit, wascally fashion pop musicians, come to town. Gram Rabbit’s sexed up Aryan synth sound, electo peers of the Lovemakers and Ladytron, have garnered the band an occult following, be-rabbit eared revelers who call themselves “the Royal Order of Rabbits.” Though the ears were missing during Sunday’s SOhO performance, the sea of oddities in their place- best described as a mixture of classic John Hughes’ characters with Johnny Depp circa “Bennie and Joon”- enhanced the strange world of retro that Gram and opener United by Sound seem to enjoy.

United by Sound, Los Angeles based up and comers, almost outweighed their main act. With a polished cabaret style and new spin on crunkstep the band is destined for greater things should they find a label. Highlights of their set include tunes “Benjamin” and “Guns.” Their vocals, a Leslie Uggams meets old Nelly Furtado, were joyously received from frontwoman Jeni Ivey. Ms. Ivey’s talent completes the band’s sonorous masterpiece with a feeling of restrained energy- one that promises annihilation of nuclear proportions if ever unhinged. Gram Rabbit’s vocalist Jesika von Rabbit, on the flip of it, left something to be desired. Where her voice, early Madonna meets Gwen Stefani, is part and parcel to the band’s overall bunny-flected theatricality, tonight it waned meticulous and tired. So at times when the grandeur of the band’s ambience and harmonic layering faded, the performance felt a little less like Brian Eno and a little too much like defected Soviets gone American. Performance staples done well, though, include “White Rabbit” and “Dirty Horse;” with the best song of the night, and consequently the most ear friendly track on their newest release “RadioAngel and the RobotBeat,” “Something Fuzzy.” The band ended the evening with encore “Aloha,” the most offensive, countrified affront to Hawaiian culture since John Wayne’s “Big Jim McLain;” but indicative of an ominous and cynically gothic retrograde I hope the band explores as it hops its way down the briar patch.

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