On Friday night at the El Rey on Wilshire, a diverse crowd assembled in the space to see the party--sorry, band--that is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Before their lively selves could command the stage, however, Chad Valley opened up the show. The Damian from Mean Girls-Zach Galifianakis hybrid performed with a girl this evening but the second voice couldn't overcome the generic rhythms and uninspired beats.
The techno-loop has turned into an easy cliché nowadays with its ubiquity, and Valley didn't do anything to make it feel innovative--or even listenable. It took them at least 2/3 of their set to warm the crowd up, but even then it was obvious the audience felt more energized knowing the main act was getting closer and closer.
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage they reinvigorated the crowd with immediate energy and very cool stage design. They played equally from "The Speed of Things," their latest album, and "It's A Corporate World," their impressive debut album. Each successive song added more and more to the dance party erupting in the crowd.
As they kept going, Josh Epstein admitted how he had gotten steroids that day because he woke up with a sore throat. He asked the audience to help him sing in order to alleviate some of his pressure to stretch his voice. Of course the audience humored his request, but after this happened his singing took an obvious turn for worse--his excitement couldn't cover up the strain in his voice. Despite it, the energy and performance never subsided and he pulled through for the rest of the show.
At a certain point, the white orb in the middle of the stage started projecting some fabulous animations. During "War Zone," 8-bit animals and soldiers walked across the globe of the orb in time with the music and lyrics. The animation went from skeletons to plants to surreal designs, staying compelling the whole way through.
They ended their show with the obvious exclusion of "If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't On the Dance Floor," but the encore ended up being a 3-song affair that included the hit. Josh interrupted at one time to explain a dream he had involving Kid Rock and his unwavering disapproval. Thankfully their Detroit connection doesn't make Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr pine for Kid Rock's respect too much, so they kept going with the same vigor and unadulterated enthusiasm that characterized the whole show.