Prospect House’s last ‘Back to the Summer’ show burns up Downtown

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Valerie Osier | Interim Features Editor

Aug. 25, 2014

A crowd of social misfits presses into the sweaty, dark basement of Back to the Grind in downtown Riverside on a muggy Wednesday night. Like most small time shows, the first band set up late, but Tijuana natives The End didn’t fail to get the 30 or so people in the crowd moving when they belted out the first indie rock riffs to several of their new songs.

Prospect House, a Riverside-based group that puts on local indie concerts, had their last “Back to the Summer” showcase at Back to the Grind Aug. 13. The show had three indie bands from all over the lower west coast with varying styles. The End came to Riverside for the first time all the way from Tijuana, Statues of Cats are from LA and The Dogs are right from Riverside.

The End played a set of indie rock reminiscent of The Strokes with their fast-paced, lo-fi sound. According to band members, Lenin Sanchez (guitar), Esau Lanido (guitar), Benjamin Chavez (bass) and Victor Blanco (drums), the band’s sound comes from the different styles of music each member listens to and contributes in the song-writing. The different styles of their newer songs mixed up their set and made for an enjoyable show.

This was the first time the Tijuana group played anywhere farther from their hometown than San Diego.

“We’re so glad to play here right now because our objective is not to make it in Mexico,” Sanchez said.  “We love the States and we want to make it here.”

They debuted a few new songs at the Prospect House show not yet out for download, including “Anyhow,” which starts off with ska style guitar riffs and got the crowd pumped and dancing. Although, once The End played their last song of the set and thanked the audience, the crowd rushed up the stairs out of the stifling hot basement to take breather in the fresh air on the patio outside.

Statues of Cats from LA lured the crowd back down into the heat by bringing a different sound to the table with their funky rock. Unlike the first band their sound and style remained consistent throughout the show, which made their set almost like one giant song with nothing to mix it up except the few random lyrics that were audible.

What could be audibly understood of the lyrics sounded like meaningless rhyming clichés at the time. For example: “I don’t want to let these feelings go, underneath these million miles of snow.” When listening to their recorded EP, however, their lyrics make more sense with their quality hi-fi audio recording. The blame for the sub-par sound at the show could be easily placed on the venue and rushed sound check in between bands.

But what this group lacked in clarity, they made up in their strong guitar solos and hilarious charisma with the audience, which gives for a great show.

The lead singer, Jonny Machtig, introduced their third song of the set, ‘Feelings Underground’ with a neat little scene setter: “We’re about to transport you all to another time, to another dimension, where all the Starbucks are replaced by independent coffee companies, where musicians can make really easy money,… a place deep underground.” It was very hipster. And by this time the heat in the stifling basement made me so dizzy, it actually made it feel like the audience was being transported somewhere. They must have timed it that way.

Statues of Cats is reminiscent of The White Stripes with their early 90’s rock sound and are heavily bass-driven in their EP. Compared to their fantastic EP, their live performance lacked, but, they were missing their usual bass player and their second guitar player, Daphne Green, had to sub in the show.

Statues of Cats pretty accurately described themselves as “nerdy jam rock.”

“I would say we are definitely a band for outcasts,” Machtig said. “If you feel nerdy, or transgender, or you’ve got something that’s a little off, you can come to us.”

By the curfew hour of 10 pm on this Wednesday night, The Dogs got a little short changed by a dogged out crowd. Only about 10 people stuck around initially, but more trickled in later after what can be imagined as desperate gasping for fresh air outside.

“We try to do our own spin, like melodic punk,” they said. “We don’t beat ourselves up like other people. We’re like polite punk, we sing about girls and stuff.”

The Dogs are very punk rock in their style, although “polite punk” or “melodic punk” might not be the best way to describe them.  A part of the audience got aggressively into the music, apparent in their “skanking” style of dance.

These guys have a sound very similar to that of Bad Religion, with their harmonizing vocals and guitar solos. Although, also like Bad Religion, most of their songs sounded the same. By the end of their set, it seemed as if the songs had all melded together.

Again, the audio was not as hot as the room in their set. It was hard to hear and understand the lyrics over the instrumentals. In “Streetlights,” Simon Cornell (guitar and vocals) probably had a lovely voice, but instrumentals were louder than the vocals: I feel like that’s a rookie mistake. But at least they were good instrumentals.

The Dogs had a very consistent style throughout, and didn’t change it up a lot. In several of their songs, they had some very cool and complex sounding guitar solos.

Prospect House put on a pretty great show overall. To get as many people as they did to show up in the middle of the week and rock out in a stuffy basement was impressive.

The interesting mix in styles of rock turned out great and allowed anyone to enjoy the show. The bad audio for the last two bands made it easy to write them off at first, but listening to both of their EP’s showed that they both bring cool, new sounds and styles to the table that just didn’t translate well live.

The venue, however, was not well thought out. Back to the Grind gives a great atmosphere for just about anything, including an indie rock concert, just NOT in the middle of August in their poorly ventilated basement. But seeing how the show was completely free, it’s hard to have ground to complain. Except for the lack of air.

Prospect House is fairly new, having just started putting on shows as of March of 2014. Its run by a group of very cool misfits who bring out indie bands for a chance to be enjoyed by the public. It’s easy to say I can’t wait to see what cool things they do next.