The Avalanches don’t really write songs in the traditional sense. On both of their albums -- 2001’s brilliant, genre-smashing Since I Left You and last year’s long-awaited Wildflower -- the Australian group assembled thousands of samples into album-length mosaics that tumbled forward with the momentum of the band’s namesake. With The Avalanches performing their first ever show in Los Angeles last night at the Fonda Theatre, the question was how they would translate the music from those albums -- which structurally resemble a continuous DJ mix -- using a full live band.
The answer: Reverse engineering. With Spank Rock on hand for the more hip-hop-focused parts of Wildflower and Eliza Wolfgramm singing the vocal samples on songs like “Electricity” and “Radio,” The Avalanches deconstructed their original mixes and resembled them using all natural ingredients. If it felt at times that something was a little lost in this translation -- the dreamy Wildflowers standout “Colours” was notably absent from the set list -- The Avalanches made up for it with some choice covers, including The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” during which Wolfgramm stalked the stage with a baseball bat, and Spank Rock’s own “Bump,” which included a surprise appearance by Amanda Blank.
If there was one complaint, it was the show’s length, as the group performed for just over 60 minutes, including their encore. Still, waiting fifteen years between albums will imbue your fans some patience and the thrill of finally seeing The Avalanches in concert more than made up for the brevity of the set itself.
Check out photos of their performance above and the next time band heads out on tour, click here for tickets to select shows on AXS.com.