The Lafayette Hotel's Mississippi Ballroom might seem like a strange place for an indie-rock concert. Complete with a seashell-shaped stage, it was built for sitting audiences to enjoy big-band-style jazz ensembles. There's limited visibility and the sound is less than stellar.
But the audience on Saturday night made the best of it. And The Album Leaf's Jimmy LaValle turned in an engrossing and fluid set for his hometown crowd.
Openers Sister Crayon just about stole the show. Anchored by frontwoman Terra Lopez's operatic howl, the Sacramento quartet seamlessly transitioned from cool electro noise to forlorn electro rock.
Once LaValle took the stage a little before midnight, joined by a cast of new and old bandmates, the crowd seemed a little restless. Luckily, they stuck around for LaValle's 13-song set, which offered up favorite indie-electro tracks like “Shine” and “TwentyTwoFourteen” along with a few new songs. His performance of “Rising Sun,” a song he released to raise funds for Japan earthquake relief, was beautifully heartbreaking.
LaValle is currently staying in L.A. to work on film scores, but after the show, he said he has a new project in the works with King Britt (of Digable Planets and Sylk130) and a project with “a huge hero” that he's really excited about. He's not ready to divulge the details of the collaboration, but it seems like Album Leaf may take a backseat to these new projects.
This might alienate some of his hardcore fans much in the same way that his vocals did on the Leaf's last album, but it does prove that LaValle's restless and creative energy is intact. Indeed, he's one of the few local artists who's unafraid to try new things, consequences be damned.