LA Band Spain, and a Celebrity Fan

THE other night I was lucky enough to catch a short, hypnotic set by Spain, the Los Angeles "slowcore" band that's now back together and starting to appear in low-key shows around town. (The last time I saw them they played at tiny but wonderful Origami Vinyl in Echo Park.)

In any case, the show itself was both completely gripping and without any surprising jolts: Mellow songs with a brooding shimmer, the ghost of country music evident in some of the chord changes, incisive guitar lines, and about evenly split between darkly romantic songs from the band's '90s heyday and new songs including "I'm Still Free," recently released as a single. (We were especially impressed with "I Lied" the band's last song, "Untitled #1," from its first album, though it made us wonder how much better the song would be if it had a real name.)

The Misread City is a longtime fan of this group -- here is some of what I've said before about this band, headed by Josh Haden -- so we were delighted to see that despite the poor showing of this barely publicized gig, one of the great arbiters of Southland music was rocking to the show in dark overcoat: Actor Jack Black.

Black, of course, is married to one of Haden's musical sisters -- they are all descended from great jazz bassist Charlie Haden -- so maybe this was family obligation. But somehow I don't think so.

Your humble blogger has far too good manners to approach a Hollywood celebrity who has strayed into a public place, but his appearance made us recall his peerless role in High Fidelity, one of the great rock music films ever made.

In this scene, Black's character Barry gives a clueless customer a brisk musical lesson, and continues on the record-shop owner played by John Cusack. As you can tell from this clip, Black's taste is quite exacting: A major vote of confidence indeed for the band Spain.

One note: Silver Lake's The Satellite, where the show was held seems to be quite similar to Spaceland, the club it replaced. This is no complaint: The place falls into the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it category. Long may it thrive, under whatever name.

Scott Timberg
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