Over the course of three days, I attended concerts from Crystal Castles, Wild Nothing (at the Natural History Museum), and Diamond Rings. You’d probably be surprised if I told you that the last of those three, at the 290 capacity club The Satellite, was the best of the three. In the others’ defense, all three were great. But Diamond Rings, fresh off a tour of large stages with Robyn, is a performer destined for greatness.
Diamond Rings, the solo project name of John O’Regan, wasn’t the only reason for this bold statement about a small-ish show. Openers A B & The Sea and PS I Love You provided terrific support for the headliner, all be it in very different manners. A B & The Sea, a San Francisco based band, provide a modern spin on golden oldies, but with a remarkable precision and enthusiasm level. The vocalist seemed clever, as well, earning comparisons to James Mercer in the melodic turns and vocal range. All in all, it was a particularly strong set from a band I had never heard of.
PS I Love You brought something totally different to the table. Main-man Paul Saulnier (the PS from the band’s name) cleansed the club’s palet by giving a solid minute of noise, played up against his amp. Then, Saulnier showed The Satellite what PS I Love You is all about. On their opening song, the singer-guitarist straight-out shredded. We aren’t quite talking about Eddie Van Halen shit here, but that wouldn’t be far off. Saulnier is a juggler of performing, not only playing difficult guitar parts, but also playing bass parts on a foot organ and singing. As a testament to his passion, he broke not one, but two guitar stings on the opening number alone. Percussionist Benjamin Nelson is an able supporter, keeping the drum parts interesting enough to divert attention away from the multi-tasking sensation that is Saulnier.
Early set high points included “Meet Me At Munster Station,” “Breadends” and “Little Spoon.” Saulnier evokes comparisons to fellow Canadian vocalists Spencer Krug and Carey Mercer, as he is a yelper and sings with a desperate intensity that is both captivating to watch and exciting to listen to. Saulnier made no attempt to hide his affection for Diamond Rings, noting that they are best friends, and welcomed the performer on stage to sing a final song. They should really look into forming a super group together, because the one song where these two talented musicians met was easily the high point of the night.
Diamond Rings oozes cool. Local bands made up a majority of the audience, showing a unwavering support from the music community, which was cemented by the fact that people seemed to know every word of every song. Opening with slow-burner “Play By Heart,” the singer programmed the backing music into the keyboard and performed a sort of interpretive dance to the tune. It was… awesome. It was the kind of confident beginning that could sell anyone on the show about to come, but we didn’t need selling. He had us at “hello,” so to say.
After saying hello, the singer asked the audience if we were “ready to have some fun.” We were. He then commented that this weather is considered hot where he came from (it was in the 70s), but “it was about to get hotter.” From there, he kicked into his best song, the anthematic “On Our Own,” creating a frenzy of dancing and adoration in the audience. It was hard to not get swept up in it. I didn’t even try.
Another highlight was the “not-an-Alanis Morissette-cover,” “You Oughta Know.” John O’Regan showed chops at both the keyboard and the guitar (while giving some excellent dance moves), showed a comfort on stage and in his own skin, and, most importantly, showed a genuine gratitude for the audience. Hell, he even seemed like he had a blast performing. Ending with the single-song encore of “Give It Up,” The Satellite had reached new heights of adoration.
Sure, we get countless excellent shows in Los Angeles. Hell, we even got at least three last weekend. But, Diamond Rings brought something special and memorable to the table. Something that not only made me glad I attended, but also made me look forward to his next visit; and that is something special. Check him out if you get the chance.