Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You Should Know: Fire In The Hamptons

Fire In The Hamptons at the historic Malibu Inn, Sept. 19, 2012 (from left: Emvy [keyboard, bass synth], Aaron [drums], Zack [vocals], and Ian [guitar])
Four flat tires in five hours en route to a show in San Francisco. Every door on the tour van breaking at the same time. A 300-pound buck (dubbed "Bambo") leaping out of a perfectly still night in Malibu Canyon in front of said tour van, crushing its radiator and taking out a second car before disappearing back into the darkness. Not exactly events indie-electro-rock group Fire In The Hamptons expected when they set out for those gigs, but as the band always says in the face of adversity, "That ain't nothing for dragons."

Representing that dragon side with matching gold talons around their necks, the Los Angeles-based foursome is rapidly proving unstoppable, be it on the road or on stage. Since their formation at the start of 2012, the group has headlined The Viper Room, The House of Blues ("the fifth F.I.T.H. show," keyboardist Emvy Venti points out), and The Malibu Inn, and kicked off a month-long state-wide tour at August's Echo Park Rising Festival. But for drummer Aaron Bilyeu, the band's most memorable show didn't require a venue whose name evokes memories of music legends past, nor did it need the packed house of adoring fans that's becoming as guaranteed for this group as a sound check.

"We played outside a house in Joshua Tree -- just as the sun set -- for us, a few of our close friends, and the whole of the desert," Aaron says of his favorite performance. "It was an amazing view. I'm sure we sounded like shit, but it was beautiful, and one of those moments you can hold on to."

Forging unforgettable moments isn't difficult for  this group. They pride themselves on the showmanship of their live shows, where lead singer Zack Arnett insists on an ocean of lasers and incites dance-offs in the crowd. Zack's vocals transition seamlessly from breathy cooing to an amplified, full-bodied howl that plays across octaves with a soulful yet playful tone that is both unforgettable and incomparable. Coupled with Aaron's powerful drumming (which was evocative of Young The Giant to me, but is in fact inspired by, according to Aaron, a combination Carter Beauford, Dave Grohl, and Miley Cyrus' new haircut), Emvy's masterful weaving of classic piano tones and innovative electronic overlays, and guitarist Ian "Values" Dowd's diverse, poppy sound that loans the group a touch of Two Door Cinema Club's upbeat attitude, F.I.T.H.'s catchy lyrics and widely varied tunes will remain comfortably buried in your brain weeks. If you don't believe me, try this on for size:

"Stargazer" quickly became one of the hits F.I.T.H. fans couldn't get enough of, and whenever it's performed live the energy of the show instantly bubbles over from a fun dance party to an unhinged rock show -- the adoring crowd pumps their fists with each "Up!" and all four band members feed off of the energy, dancing on stage and losing themselves in their musicality.

Monterey natives Zack, Aaron, and Ian knew each other long before Zack (who spent years in the funky hip-hop crew Ostrich Head) came up with the idea for F.I.T.H. Lifelong Los Angeleno Emvy was added to the ensemble after the multifaceted musician (in addition to piano, guitar, and electronic instruments, he's also a percussionist and will wildly drum on anything from a steering wheel to water glasses to the nearest person if the spirit moves him) played at the Troubadour in January with another group he's in called Siren's Eye. A couple months after their first rehearsal, Fire In The Hamptons officially debuted at The Viper Room, an epic beginning that -- with rumors of Coachella now flying around -- apparently foreshadowed the band's skyward trajectory.

"Luckily, I have been grinding my face into the sandpaper stone of the music industry for over a decade...along the way I was able to sweep a couple gems into my pocket that would later help out if this situation were to arise," Zack says of forming and launching the year-old band.

But the thing that makes F.I.T.H. such a joy to watch live and listen to endlessly in the car, on your computer or on repeat in your head is the obvious joy the members take in creating their wholly new sound together. They've been frequently compared to Passion Pit, but that comparison is always followed by a statement about how, in reality, they sound like everyone and no one all at once. Theirs is a sound that simply moves you and fits as a perfect soundtrack to every scenario life could offer, a sound these men create with ease and alacrity simply by relaxing, sharing a laugh, hopping on stage and starting a party.

"It's hard to explain," Aaron says of the nascent group's cohesion, "but one day you're not learning the songs, you're just playing them. Ya dig?"

Hurry and buy your $15 pre-sale tickets to see F.I.T.H. live at The Mayan (1038 S. Hill Street in Downtown LA) when RAW: Los Angeles presents PROVOCATIONS, an eclectic collection of art, fashion, and music on Thursday, October 11th! What to wear? The invitation specifies cocktail attire, but let your personal style rock as hard as F.I.T.H., like my cousin Natasha and I did at their Malibu Inn show last month:

Top: 5th Stitch Collective; Jeans: BDG; Heels: ShoeDazzle; Braided Leather Cuff: found

While I rocked out in my favorite seafoam green cigarette jeans with another dazzler from San Francisco's 5th Stitch Collective and my sky-high/dirt-cheap pumps, Natasha opted for one of my favorite recent trends: the long lace dress over exposed legs. This style exudes the subdued sex appeal of black lace over bare skin but the floor-length column skirt elevates the look's elegance, gives it a sense of class and maturity, and lets a rock fan show off her gorgeous gams without looking like a hoochie groupie (also known as "That Girl"). Buy the F.I.T.H. LP on iTunes, and let tracks like Natasha's and my personal favorites ("Children Of The Sun" and "Crystalize", respectively) guide you to the perfect ensemble. Just make sure you can dance in it, as people standing still is the one thing that will definitely never happen at a F.I.T.H. show. Everything else is on the table -- case in point: Zack is already planning a stage dive at the Mayan.

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