For somebody who wields his wit like a flamethrower and his couplets like hand grenades, Eddie Argos sure was nervous on Friday night at the Echo.
The droll narrator of the U.K. quintet Art Brut was performing on the QT, billed as “Hot Sauce Mentor.” He was, in fact, debuting the music of his new side project, Everybody Was in the French Resistance … NOW, and was joined onstage by his collaborator (and girlfriend) Dyan Valdes of the L.A. quartet the Blood Arm and the project’s L.A.-based producer, ex-Mighty Lemon Drops guitarist David Newton.
- ||| Photos by Laurie Scavo
After opening with “Creeq Allies” – a cheeky twist on the Mamas and the Papas’ song “Creeq Alley” – and his characteristic between-song raillery, Argos, as he is wont to do, cued the band for the next song: “Ready, Art Brut? … Oops …” He did did it once again later, sheepishly correcting himelf to “Hot Sauce Mentor,” but overall finished the set in style, give or take a couple cases of lyrical amnesia.
The performance at the Echo’s Anglophile-leaning Club Underground was chipper and energetic, with some of the poppier numbers on EBWITFR…N’s forthcoming debut “Fixing the Charts, Volume One” even lending themselves to dancing. It would have been even more fun had anybody heard any of the songs beforehand – the album, due in February, offers Argos’ rapier responses to a bunch of songs in the pop canon. And if you think Argos’ storytelling and proselytizing is funny in front of Art Brut’s garage rock, you’ll find the 30-year-old darn close to hilarious in his counterpoints to likes of Michael Jackson (“Billie’s Genes” vs. “Billie Jean”), Paul Anka (“My Way [Is Not Always the Best Way]” vs. “My Way”) and Kanye West (“Coal Digger” vs. “Gold Digger”).
His sharpest dagger? “Avril Lavigne is a bitch,” he told the crowd, eyebrow raised. Hearing a boo or two, he said, “Oh, yes, she is. She thinks it’s OK to steal someone else’s boyfriend.” He then launched into “G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N (You Know I’ve Got A),” the Resistance’s chuckle-inducing retort to Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” that exhorts a stalker-girl to leave him alone: “Can’t you find / someone else to prey on?”
And though he acknowledges Bob Dylan as songwriting deity, Argos takes issue with “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” saying some things need to be rethought. The Resistance’s sweet “Think Twice (It’s Not Alright),” with Valdes’ background cooing, pleads with a lover to reconsider breaking up.
As with Art Brut, the Resistance is all about inflating an emotion, issue or idea like a balloon, and then pricking it with a pin. In this go-round, it’s a pretty fun pop.
L.A. quartet Sweaters opened the evening.