As I politely elbowed my way through a packed crowd at The Echo Thursday night, I met a nice, very tall couple (read: I bumped their shoulders with my camera until they were kind enough to let me in front for a few songs to take some photos). They were wearing Private Island gear, so I asked how they knew the band. “Dude, I just heard them for the first time and I was just instantly hooked. One song, that was it,” said the bro.
That’ll happen with Private Island. When “Dissolve” came up in my Soundcloud feed a couple months back, I didn’t stand a chance. The warmth drew me in like the last day of summer, guitar fuzz melting away the stress between my shoulder blades. The next day, I bought tickets to their show at The Echo.
When I listen to Private Island, I close my eyes and find myself on a beach somewhere, usually right around sunset. Last night, I found myself in a very different Sunset, in the grungy hipster epicenter of Echo Park. I walked inside the venue and felt my shoes immediately stick to the floor in the way they somehow always do at The Echo and I was a little worried that the whole tranquil beach fantasy thing would be shattered forever.
Onstage, Private Island looked sort of like a displaced backyard kickback. With their backwards hats and laidback swagger, there’s a distinctly SoCal chill about the LA six-piece. But when Michelle Guerrero started singing, a dreamy, rainbowed lightshow illuminated the band’s sultry side. Wave-and-sun-soaked basslines took on a velvety soft tenderness in the dark, turning even the notoriously grimy Echo into a haven.
After some classics (and a few new tunes!), the night took an unexpected turn with a fun, surfy rendition of Sinatra’s “I Love You Baby.” It was a night of unlikely covers – earlier, high-energy synth pop openers Party Nails put their spin on Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.”
The band closed out with a stellar performance of “Bear Hands” and encored with “Dissolve,” two of my favorites. By the time the last note sounded, I didn’t see many people standing still.
After the show, I ran into an old friend. He asked how I’d gotten into Private Island and I explained, “One song, dude. I was hooked.”
He nodded. “I seem to be hearing that about them a lot lately.”