Los Angeles is home to more than a dozen amazing, world class music venues…and a couple shitty ones. Jewel’s Catch One falls into the latter category. Nestled right in the armpit of Pico Boulevard, Catch One gives off an alarmingly sketchy, back alley drug deal vibe upon arrival and only slightly improves once inside. While my sources tell me that this is in fact a nightclub, the area in which bands play is little more than a foot elevated platform surrounded by speakers and three red lights. Those who did not bring ear plugs were left borderline deaf by the end of the night due to way off-the-mark sound levels and proximity to said speakers.
With that said, local label Sargent House was able to pair two of their most unique acts Helms Alee and Marriages, for a show at this cesspool Friday, January 23rd. Both represent some of the freshest, most unique hybrid rock music around and while neither are brand names at this point, the packed floor reinforced the fa nbase for both acts.
Marriages hit the stage around 10, nearly an hour after their designated set time but the wait was worth it. With several members hailing from instrumental metal act Red Sparowes, Marriages stray just far enough from that band’s sound to carve something new for themselves, mainly through the atmospheric vocals of Emma Ruth Rundle. Both easy on the eyes and easy on the ears, Rundle is waify and angelic with a voice that’s equal parts Cranberries and Phantogram. Marriages sound is still largely instrumental, maintaining enough of their heavy history to fit the bill. The group has a new album, Salome coming out April 7th and it can’t be recommended enough. Fingers crossed they return to LA in a less dire venue.
With Beavis and Butthead inspired band artwork (and merch) and a handful of cheeky music videos, Helms Alee don’t take themselves too seriously. In a genre full of serious and pretentious shenanigans, this wonderful trait cannot be overstated. Though they only have three members (one male and two females) Helms Alee is an earthquake of heavy music. The bass work from Dana James is enough to rattle your bones, the gruff vocals of Ben Verellen are aggressive without being off putting and the rhythmic drumming from Hozoji Margullis keeps everyone in check.
Their 2014 release Sleepwalking Sailors was one of the genre’s best of the year and fortunately many tracks off it were played live. The obscenely loud sound levels at Catch One somehow did their music justice and there is a certain charm to being feet away from the legendary bass face of Dana James.
Regardless, it was hard to walk away without feeling like these two talented bands deserved better. A venue like The Echoplex could way better serve the size and base of the bands and while it’s possible it wasn’t available, my living room is always an available better option than Jewel’s Catch One.