The April 10 CD release party for “La La Lost” by Arrica Rose and the …’s was an intimate yet lively gathering at the Hotel Café on the Cahuenga Strip, a venue that perfectly showcased the range of the little-known group’s new album.
A hip, artsy crowd gathered in the small, dimly lit room. Down the left side of the room, a row of tables filled up quickly, leaving most onlookers the option to either lean on the bar or stand around in the darkness clutching their drinks and talking in groups.
It seemed as though everyone knew each other. People passed from one cluster of friends to the next, hugging and greeting one another in the fashion of a high school reunion.
There is a reason for this familiarity – Arrica Rose and the …’s take great care in getting to know their fans and supporters. Most of the people who show up to their live performances already know the band members’ names and many of them have interacted directly with the band, either through MySpace messages or personal invitations via telephone or email.
In an industry where success equals distance from those who support the art, this closeness is a breath of fresh air – and so are the songs on “La La Lost.”
Both the concert and the album start off with the melancholy but sultry song, “I’d Love to Miss L.A.,” a song about the lavish and impersonal atmosphere that prevails in Los Angeles. The lyric, “I need love, but all they offer me is drugs,” speaks perfectly to this subject. It sends a shiver down the spine while simultaneously catching the audience’s attention and luring people in to the song’s moving message.
The band then launches directly into “Uh-Huh,” an upbeat and catchy track that’s style is in sharp contrast to the first song. The audience responds by springing into motion, dancing and singing along to the song’s simple chorus: “Bada, bada, badada, uh-huh.”
Bands with this capacity for stylistic range are rare, but even more rare is this kind of stage presence in a fledgling group – they tell stories between songs that elicit strong reactions from the audience; they crack jokes on each other that cause the room to laugh collectively; they explain the backstories of each track in a way that makes you pay closer attention to the lyrics and mood of every song they play; they even invite several friends onstage to sing backup vocals during the song, “Porcupine in a Petting Zoo,” from which the album’s title is taken.
A comically touching moment came during the intro to “All My Metaphors,” when Arrica Rose explained that, while she loves the song because she gets to “cuss” in it, her father, Al Scaglione, doesn’t like it because the use of the expletive in a prominent point in the song might prevent it from getting airplay.
In another testament to the band’s intimate connection to its audience, Rose stops the show about halfway through to let the audience know that the group will be in the club’s lobby after the show signing copies of “La La Lost,” which were free with the very affordable cost of admission, along with previous albums that were available for sale after the show.
Intending to pre-sign the black album covers, Rose purchased a gold paintpen. At home, she shook the pen up, as per the instructions. But when she took the lid off, gold paint splattered everywhere – on her jeans, her computer and her leather couch.
“And that shit don’t come off,” she said with a smile.
Rose brought the gold paintpen along to autograph the albums for those who wanted it. The personalized autographs were free, with one catch: “If I sign it for you, you have to help me out and draw a gold star on my jeans so it looks like I did it on purpose,” she said.
She even took the time to compliment people on the quality of the stars they drew on her.
Overall, the album was touching, well performed and beautiful. And if the music isn’t enough to make you a fan, just go to a show and interact with the band members. After two minutes, you’ll be sold.
I know I am.