A little over a month ago, around late August, I saw a number of bands I was not entirely familiar with at the Viper Room, marking my first time at the historic rock club on Sunset Blvd. (and I absolutely loved it!). I was excited to discover two new artists, the Los Angeles-based alternative rock band, Badflower, and the newly formed, “secret” duo consisting of Panic! at the Disco bassist Dallon Weekes and former Falling In Reverse drummer, Ryan Seaman.
Although my intentions of the night were to see the curiously elusive duo, whose project is entitled I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, I was also surprisingly turned on to the music of Badflower, who took the stage before the headliners. Consisting of singer and guitarist Josh Katz, lead guitarist Joey Morrow, bassist Alex Espiritu, and drummer Anthony Sonetti, Badflower has a variety of punk(ish) alternative numbers mixed in with some slower-paced, heavier tunes – a little reminiscent of Bush instrumentally speaking, but Katz's vocals are incomparable and pleasantly vary in pitch and tone. The band gained notoriety a few years ago for songs like “Animal,” and were initially signed to Republic Records and John Varvatos’ label. Earlier this past month, it was announced that Badflower officially became the first artist to be signed to Big Machine Records/John Varvatos Records, a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Brochette and Varvatos.
All of the buzz around Badflower is certainly warranted, as their music is passionate, angry, and compelling, and their live set at the Viper Room was more than enough to inspire fandom. They played a number of their more popular songs, along with other tracks off of their 2016 EP, Temper, including “Let The Band Play.” The band played alright, showcasing a raw, grunge sound coupled with Katz’s soft, emotive vocals. Johnny Galecki (yes, Leonard from The Big Bang Theory), who has been a devoted fan and supporter of the band since their early days, was in the crowd for their set, and even joined on stage to help close out their performance — a hilariously rad sight to see.
Following the show, I’ve given more of their recorded songs a listen, and am absolutely floored by their talent. My favorite song of theirs thus far is undoubtedly “Heroin,” which somehow offers a surprisingly refreshing take on the age-old analogy comparing heroin to an addictive, yet toxic, lover. The band has revealed that they are currently in the works of releasing a music video for the song, which hopefully will encapsulate its gut-wrenching, tragically bittersweet vibe.
The headliner of the night, I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, which has remained a “secret” due to minimal or exclusive publicity, took the stage after Badflower, and put on a pretty entertaining show considering its composition of only a bassist and a drummer. IDKHBTFM is a very new project, with only one recorded single released, but they have played a number of live shows throughout the past year or so, and their catalogue of songs is still something to look forward to (Dallon even admitted during the set that they “have to learn more songs, we’re still very new”). Although both Panic! At The Disco and Falling In Reverse have distinctive sounds, Seaman and Weekes create something entirely unique with IDKHBTFM, channeling a pop-punk sound with an 80s feel.
What is most captivating about IDKHBTFM is the fact that its live sets rely entirely on two instruments which sometimes are forced to take a backseat to lead vocalists and guitarists, but are nevertheless the foundational elements in music. A band consisting of only a drummer and a bassist seems odd at first, but Weekes and Seaman definitely make it work, combining their musicianship with prerecorded guitars and synthesizers along with Weekes’ performative appeal (often times giving nod to the “emo” performance style of bands like Panic!).
The highlight of their set was when they played “Modern Day Cain,” the only single they’ve released thus far and consequently their most developed song yet. The track features biblical metaphors, an 80s dance groove, and catchy lyrics, like: “And you conjure up a fiction/ To get the pretty girls to listen.” The music video, which they recently released for the single, also gives a peek into the project’s overall style, with its theatrical rendition of a “Superstar Showcase” that is straight out of the 80s and features a synth-heavy groove, set off by a robotized voice commanding the listener to dance.
Both of these fairly new bands, Badflower and I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, offered a night of awesome music at the Viper Room, along with hopes for promising new material in addition to their already-growing catalogue of refreshingly unique, quality songs. To keep up with the projects, follow them on their social media channels (Badflower; IDKHBTFM), and stay tuned! There are certainly good things to come with these two groups.
By Pauline Pechakjian