TVD Live: Firewater at Bootleg Theater, 9/28

Firewater satisfied true believers and likely roped in some new converts last Friday in Los Angeles. Bandleader Tod A appeared invigorated by his recent time living abroad, treating the audience to a fun and cathartic experience.

The Bootleg Theater was an ideal venue for the band’s drunken carnival act. Removed from the gaudiness of Hollywood and the self-conscious cool of Silver Lake, it felt more like a raucous house party than a nightclub. Quality beers flowed from the bar near the stage, while the crowd responded heartily to onstage cues by dancing, shouting, or jumping up and down in place.

An impressive six-piece band tore through a set of old and new material. Trombone and hand percussion helped bring each song to life, giving the performance a cinematic feel. Selections ran the gamut from the wounded fury of “I Still Love You Judas” to the celebratory satire of “Ex-Millionaire Mambo.”

The band’s New York phase was represented by several early tracks, including powerful renditions of “Fell off the Face of the Earth,” “So Long Superman,” and the end-times klezmer anthem “Dark Days Indeed.” The set also featured a good dose of songs from 2007’s triumphant The Golden Hour, including the dark ballad “Paradise” and a stomping rendition of “This is My Life.”

Opening act Zana Messia and the Rakia Brass Band contributed to the unique atmosphere of the night. Their jazz-influenced take on traditional Eastern European music foreshadowed the more bombastic approach of Firewater, and was a welcome break from the usual rock’n’roll club fare.

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