At a sound-check meet-and-greet before Louis XIV's March 28 show, I ask frontman Justin Hill how it feels to be in one of the most buzzed-about bands in the world.
"Oh, I don't know. Weren't Milli Vanilli the "it' group at one point?"
Humbling indeed, but like it or not, Louis XIV is San Diego's perennial "it" group. Riding the recent wave of '70s nostalgia, their music recalls T. Rex and Mott the Hoople. Their first major-label release, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept, is a bacchanal piece of glam-rock that might as well be a concept album about fucking, the best one since, say, Big Black's Songs About Fucking.
Expectations couldn't be higher for their show at Soma, their first since being ripped apart by the Austin press at South-by-Southwest. Hill recently said in Rolling Stone that he loves playing to little girls, and judging by the amount of troglodytes in line hours beforehand, he would not be disappointed. The rest of the crowd wasn't so much at Soma to welcome them back as they were to hear their new favorite song, the single, "Finding Out True Love Is Blind." When I ask a kid named Craig if he'd followed the boys since their days in Convoy, he looked confused.
"I didn't even know they were from San Diego. They sound English to me, man."
They opened with "Paper Doll," a song that borrows Marc Bolan's most famous chorus for its opening verse. Hill doesn't so much sing "Oh bang a gong, and get it on," but rather orders it. When the song segued into "Louis XIV," Hill showed off his ignescent guitar skills, complete with trademark rock posturing, including such favorites as the "I'm in pain when I play this lick," and the "One hand to the air so as to derive power from above."
By the time the band played "Illegal Tender," the crowd seemed to be getting a little impatient. The First Mosh Pit crowd was all but gone, and the couple in the front row who made out the whole show seemed to be losing steam.
And then there it was. They closed with "True Love is Blind," and all who were left went wild. There was no encore, as it was 10 minutes until Soma's 11 p.m. noise curfew.
One hour of live music, and a complacent and fulfilled crowd. Welcome to the big time, boys.