Review: Stepkids Open for The Horrors at the El Rey

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Stepkids took the stage last night at the El Rey dressed all in white. There was a white screen behind them, and a white sheet over the drum set. The house lights went down, and their fantasmagorical light show came up.

They tore through selections from their forthcoming, self-titled record with the abandon of kids tearing open their packages on Christmas morning.

That’s not to say they didn’t allow time for enjoying the moment — the slow moments in the songs were met with revelatory pause from each of the bands three members, stretching out the seconds to extract every strange and wonderful sound that their instruments and effects pedals will allow.

KCRW favorites such as “Shadows on Behalf” and “Suburban Dream” sounded exactly as good as they did on the record, but they were elevated into psychedelic freak outs of the highest order. Then, just when you didn’t think the freak outs could get any freakier, the light show any crazier, or the band even giddier – the set came to a close with the track “Half Full“. It’s a song that on the album plays out like a dreamier take on their Stones Throw labelmate Mayer Hawthorne’s modern twist on the Temptations.

Live, it became transcendent. They started by playing it just as it’s played on the album, then they threw in a mini-psychedelic freak out, then came back to the chorus at double speed, then jammed it out for several more minutes until presumably they would have to leave the stage and collapse once the sheer adrenaline they’d been running on died off.

They’ll be back this way on October 29 for a headlining show at the Echo. I know I’ll be back for more that night, and I strongly recommend you do the same.

There’s not much I can add about The Horrors that Mario Cotto didn’t already express perfectly in his summary of their Morning Becomes Eclectic appearance from earlier this week. I’ll instead, second his emotions, and add that The Horrors set at the El Rey featured a nice mix of songs from the new album Skying, and their 2009 master piece, Primary Colours.  My favorite song from Primary Colours, “Who Can Say?” was played second in the set which managed to further elevate my already pretty elevated mood. I expected to be collapsed on the El Rey’s floor by the end of the night, but instead I drifted out on a cloud – totally high on the reminder of all that a truly great rock show can do.

— Marion Hodges