Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Royalty Rock The Lowbrow Palace

            "Their sound is like tantan tan tan tantan, right?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well you know how The Strokes sound like tantantan tantan taran? They seem to have
that tantan tan tan tantan sound in their songs."
"Oh?" I wasn't sure I understood.
"It's not bad. I mean all bands have their sound, you know?"
"Oh, right. I get it."
Daniel and I walked up the steep hill of Robinson Ave. in the Cincinnati District. The night noise of passing by cars, disembodied laughter, and music overflowing from doorways surrounded us. Cinci, as everyone calls it, is one of the nightlife areas in El Paso, and tonight we came to see The Royalty.
We walked away from The Lowbrow Palace where we had just seen the band. Lowbrow is one of the handful of venues where you can see local bands, budding touring bands, and well-known bands. Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem and Kinky will soon play there.

Tonight VRNS and Fever opened for The Royalty.  I struggle to remember which band was which. Fever was very Mana pop rock en Español, and VRN, well I did not like. They were too loud and the industrial NIN meets Yelle was too much for the small cave like interior of Lowbrow. Aside from the fact that everything looked pre-recorded, the drummer drummed lightly, the singers high pitched singing made my ears tingle in a way they didn't like.
Daniel gestured through the loudness that he wanted to smoke, his two fingers held like a peace sign to his lips, I simply shook my head and pointed to the space we were in. I didn't want to lose the space we had secured. The Royalty was next.
When they finished their set we both sighed, the tiny hairs in our ears relieved to stop vibrating from the noise.
"That was no bueno," he said to me shaking his head.
"Yeah, but it's over. The Royalty is next and you'll like them. You'll see," I nodded and
re-nodded my head reassuringly.
"How many times have you seen them?"
"This is the third time. Last two times were at Tricky Falls, but we weren't that
"What do they sound like?"
"I don't know, kinda No Doubtish, but not all of it, like their first album, Tragic
Kingdom, kinda. Retro Pop-y New Wave-yish? With a slash of rock? I don't know," I said
scratching my head, "you'll see in a bit."
The stage is nestled in the corner and rises in levels in an uneven stadium seating type style. People stand around the small areas. The cave like feeling comes from the rock walls and knowing the stage sits in the corner of what now is a dugout basement. People mull around as the band sets up, secures places, grabs last minute drinks, and bathroom breaks. I always have a couple drinks at shows, but never so many I have to go to the bathroom while the band I came to see is playing. I've never understood people who get so drunk they don't remember the show, leave in the middle to go to the bathroom, or for a trip to the bar. Only when I'm not into the band will those trips be made. When I like a band, I want to hear the music, and feel the notes as they pulse through my system, and right now I'm waiting for the The Royalty.
They quickly set up as more and more people gather around them. They are have been touring all over the country, Canada, zipping up and down to and fro, but now they're home, and it seems home is giving them a warm welcome as the people scramble to find a place to stand.
"Hello El Paso, it’s good to be home," Nicole, the lead singer says into the mic. Her voice is sweat, breathy, and genuine.
The audience claps and cheers, happy they are home too. That's the thing about El Paso; we feel the success as an extension of the city. The Royalty is sprinkling a little bit of El Paso everywhere they go, and now they are home.
"We're just gonna get right into it."
She says into the mic and they do get right into it. The band consists of five members. Nicole is the voice fronting four guys, Jesus on guitar, Mike on bass, Daniel on keyboards, and Joel on drums. At times when she sings on the small stage the guys seem to overwhelm her with their drumming and riffs, but then her voice belts out and you know that it’s just them. It’s their way of drawing you, seducing you, so before you know it your body is rocking to music.
In the crowd I watch as those closest to the stage hop and writhe to the music. Even those farthest from the stage rock their bodies back and forth. I’m standing up on the black leather seat of the booths lining the walls, a birds-eye view overlooking the band, and the crowd as they interact. The Royalty plays, gives with each song, and the crowd takes as they dance and scream, sing along to their songs.
Maybe it’s because they’re home, or maybe it’s because it’s the end of a tour that’s kept them away from home for a while, from theirs wives and dogs, boyfriends, and significant others, or their own bed, but they really play. The drummer, Joel, nursing a cold, coughs turning his head to the side in between songs, but powers through by taking sips from an amber glass to soothe his throat. This is the best part of show, where everyone loses themselves, and the band and the crowd have a relationship, even if just for a night. They bring us up, high; take us down, but just a little, because it’s the finish that counts. The end of the show has to end in a certain way, the fan, excited, wanting more but satiated.

And when the show ends? We leave wanting more but happy, glad to have been their final show for a bit, here at home.

“So, did you like the show?” I ask before taking a drink of water.
It’s after hours and we’re at Star Kitchen at a late night trendy diner.
“Yeah, it was good. They are a very cool band. It’s even cooler they are from here. I would see them again. For sure,” Daniel says nodding his head.

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