HomeMusicArkells Kick Off Summer Shows With Fun Debut at the Echoplex in...

Arkells Kick Off Summer Shows With Fun Debut at the Echoplex in Los Angeles

Pop Break Live: The Arkells with Benches at Echoplex in Los Angeles, California on May 17, 2023.

The late-spring, early-summer time offers plenty of opportunity to catch live music, and fans in Los Angeles were treated to catching Canadian rockers Arkells right at the beginning of nearly a dozen shows this summer. Playing their first proper show of the year, Arkells took the stage at local favorite the Echoplex in top form, played a career-spanning set, and even debuted a brand new song for the excitable audience.

Before Arkells took the stage, San Diego band benches set the tone of the evening with a solid collection of early-2000’s garage rock tracks. With a hearty rhythm section and heavy guitars backing singer Anson Kelley’s soft voice, benches bring a fun twist to melancholy lyrics and melodic guitar riffs. Stand-out songs like “I Don’t Make Me” strongly mimic The Strokes, while “Monodrama” pulls from We Are Scientists, The Fratellis, and even Arctic Monkeys in its plucky guitars. Despite the tiny venue, the band had a strong contingent of fans cheering for an encore after the set ended.

Arkells’ opened their 17-song set with “Past Life,” an upbeat collaboration track with LA’s own Cold War Kids off the Arkells’ record Blink Twice, which was released in September 2022. Fans quickly turned the Echoplex into a dancefloor during the singalong “Leather Jacket” and highly infectious “Come To Light.” Lead singer Max Kerman held-out his microphone over the crowd as everyone sang each lyric on cue and each band member had a big smile on their face. As a nice surprise and break from all the dancing, Kerman introduced a brand new Arkells track, “Laundry Pile,” which had only been released the day before, and explained how the song came from being the “annoying friend who wouldn’t stop talking about their breakup.” The studio version of the song is pretty understated and stripped back for Arkells, but the band managed to strip it to bare bones live; the result was a beautifully intimate performance that seems to hint toward a future record full of understated songs.

The vibe in the room picked up again once Kerman asked the crowd what time it was and if anyone present had a wish, and then the band dove into fan favorite “11:11.” Not long after, Kerman took to the crowd and performed an acoustic version of “Quitting You,” which inspired the venue to cut the lights and have fans create a sea of lit-up cell phones shining throughout. Standing only on a wooden box, Kerman played acoustic guitar amongst fans and made the space feel truly special; a moment that was so successful that Arkells has since announced two intimate shows in the Canadian woods this summer called Campfire Nights. These shows will surely inspire similar acoustic singalongs with fans.

A fun and romantic highlight of the night happened when Kerman shared with the crowd that he ran into two fans before the show who explained how the first dance at their wedding was “Dance With You.” To honor that, Kerman invited the couple on-stage to recreate their first dance with the band onstage. And from the darkness, two women joined the band onstage and danced while everyone cheered along. Each of these special moments began to add up over the evening, confirming more and more how much attention Arkells pay toward their fans and the live experience. They closed out the night with an encore that included ABBA cover “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” and their classic dance track “You Can Get It.” Anyone looking to hear a group who favors infectious singalongs, melodious guitar riffs, and a funky rhythm section has to catch Arkells live; the spirit and joy they bring to each performance will get even the most shy person dancing.


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