Friday night was a big night for Electric Guest. In the middle of an east-coast tour, the men of Electric Guest wrapped up a sold-out show at Kung Fu Necktie just in time to watch themselves debut on Letterman. To anyone who didn’t catch the group performing on the LA circuit for the last year–where they showcased their Danger Mouse-produced debut album, Mondo (which was five years in the making)–Electric Guest seemed to come out of nowhere. This tour, however, and spots on late-night television have been a long time in the making, especially if frontman Asa Taccone’s background of writing music for SNL is taken into account.
Taccone’s name may sound familiar from his work with SNL and with Lonely Island, the comedy group that his brother Jorma does with Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer. Asa co-wrote and produced “Dick in a Box,” wrote the music behind the popular SNL skit “Natalie Raps,” and composed pieces for the McGruber and Hot Rod soundtracks. Taccone met bandmate Matthew Compton when he was living in a house in LA with several other musicians. Compton, who played drums in the band Engine Down, was drumming for a friend who also lived in the house, and soon he and Taccone began to play together. They took the name Electric Guest (legend has it, a woman called Taccone an “electric guest of the universe” and it stuck with him) and began to work on what would become Mondo. Eventually Danger Mouse was brought into the picture, along with brothers Tory and Todd Dahlhoff to round the band out to a group of four. They worked on their live show in LA and released an EP before attending SXSW this year. By then, hype was growing about this super group, their crisp electronic-meets-falsetto-R&B sound and even their quirky music videos.
Which sets the stage for Friday night at Kung Fu Necktie. A year spent fine-tuning their live show allowed them to make it an entirely different experience from their album. Mondo has strong, catchy moments, but an overall relaxed feel to it. Their live show is a dance party. Up front, fans knew all the words to hits like “American Daydream” and “I Hold My Head” and they danced along– but no one danced quite like Taccone. The Guardian named him “mostly likely to swagger like Jagger” and they weren’t kidding. For all the self-confessed meticulousness and perfectionism that went into this album, the band cut loose on stage. When Taccone announced that they would be slowing things down, an obvious clue that “American Daydream” was next, the band seemed shocked that people not only knew what to expect, but cheered for it. Given Electric Guest’s systematic rise to success, it’s more surprising that they were so taken aback.
Before long, the set was over. After all, the band has only one 10-track album. After the show, they drifted about the bar, greeting audience members and signing merchandise. Tory Dahlhoff mentioned that the band wanted to hear the television in the corner of the bar because they were debuting on Letterman and within minutes, most of the bar migrated to the new upstairs lounge, which is fortunately stocked with a large flat screen TV. Surrounded by thrilled fans, the band members waited to see themselves play “I Hold My Head” at the end of Letterman’s show. When they finally came on, the men of Electric Guest stood mesmerized, while whispers of “this is so meta!” went through the small crowd who were watching the band watch themselves. It was a weirdly sweet and funny moment, the kind that only happens when a band is too modest to realize that they probably need to get to used to this sort of thing. –Naomi Shavin
Under The Gun
I Hold My Head
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