In the dark, cavernous space that is the Viper Room, I listened to the amazing guitar tones coming from Pelle Hillstrom, guitarist for Teleskopes. I’m aware of him from NIN alumnus Alessandro Cortini’s ModWheelMood. I’m digging the melodies, but it’s a real distraction when screens above your head and in your peripheral vision of the stage keep showing a video of a bunch of strippers for some upcoming event called Skanksgiving. Really.
A breath of fresh air outside reveals that part of the Halloween decor blends with a permanent fixture there on the Sunset Strip….River Phoenix’s cross that adorns the wall where he died. Pretty fucking grim if you ask me.
Back inside, the show I was here to see begins. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Free Dominguez. And then I interviewed her again last week for a video that will accompany her kickstarter campaign for her next album. But this would be my first time seeing her perform.
She emerges onstage cloaked in a black veil of sorts, removing it to reveal her face half painted in the style of a sugar skull. Every eye in the room was on her. She begins to sing, and her voice takes the room with its delicate balance of softness and strength. Backed by Static from Ours and Murv from Lords of Acid, the show took us through many of the new songs that I had discussed last week with her. Free is an intense performer; she searches the room with her icy blue eyes and forges a connection with you beyond the song. Spending time with her in interviews, I can attest that Free embodies the spirit of a true artist; someone who can tap into the deeper meaning in life, connect with people on another level, and, as a result, is somewhat fragile in experiencing the world. And all of that came across on that stage.
I can’t wait to hear Volcano + The Sea once it’s recorded, especially since her fans and her friends are going to be such a huge part of it. Standing in that room, having a look around at many familiar musician faces and her adoring fans, I knew that something special was brewing.