Outernational - The Echo - 5/1/12
Better than ... Eddy Grant.
If you thought all screaming, sweaty, hip-swiveling rock and roll frontmen were motivated purely by narcissism, Outernational's Miles Solay might make you think again.
Solay and his NYC-based Spanglish rockers played a super high-energy set Tuesday night after spending much of the day -- and much of their current tour -- at political protests. Tuesday marked International Worker's Day (a.k.a. May Day) and the Outernational show was touted as L.A.'s unofficial "May Day Afterparty."
Promoting their December 2011 album Todos Somos Illegales ("We Are All Illegals"), Outernational's tour has taken them across southern Texas, Arizona, Nevada, over the border to Tijuana and up through Southern California.
"We went to places that rock and roll bands never go to," Solay hollered as the weeknight audience at the Echo cheered.
"Friday was a motherfuckin' historical night for us," he went on. "We played in Tijuana ... We crossed the border that way!"
At each stop on tour the band members have made daytime appearances with local protest movements and workers' rights groups. In L.A. Monday they performed three acoustic songs at a recycling plant protest in the morning, then joined in a gathering for immigrants' and workers' rights at Pershing Square downtown in the afternoon.
Erica E. Phillips Miles Solay at The Echo, L.A.
So seeing Solay, guitarist Leo Mintek and bass player Jesse Williams Massa jump around the stage Tuesday night, shredding their axes while the drummer Nate Hassan smashed and crashed like crazy, it was only natural to wonder where all that energy was coming from. The answer -- at least according to their manager, who we caught up with after the show -- is that it comes from the heart.
"This new revolutionary culture feels pretty fucking exciting," Solay yelled between songs. Then, to get the crowd going, "I've never been in a room with so many badasses that felt so prim and proper!"
At a brief moment of relative calm mid-show the band played its well-loved cover of Woody Guthrie's "Deportee," which they recorded for the album with former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. Then Latin Grammy nominee and local favorite Ceci Bastida joined them on stage for "Canta El Río" and stayed on to play keys during "Que Queremos," one of the band's best-known protest songs.