Santo's Party House

Nico Vega

with Eytan and the Embassy and Spirit Animal

Feb 19, 2013
Doors @ 6:30 PM
$10 ADV/$12 DOS
Purchase Tickets
The date for this show has been moved to Tuesday 2/19 - all previous tickets purchases will be honored at the new date.

Nico Vega isn’t just a band — it is a way of life.  In 2013, the Los Angeles based band — consisting of singer/lyricist Aja Volkman, guitarist Rich Koehler and drummer Dan Epand – releases their sophomore album, We Are The Art.  This album draws from intensely personal experiences and the band’s passion for art and politics to deliver some of the most poignant tunes in recent memory.We Are The Art was recorded in studios around Los Angeles as well as at Sonic Ranch Studios in Texas. It showcases the band’s trademark blues-laden guitar rock, with soaring synths thrown in for good.

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His reputation for crafting sticky hooks in any genre has made Eytan Oren a secret weapon in the entertainment 
industry. His compositions can be heard on everything from a pair of 2011 MasterCard spots to the jazzy
soundtrack for the 2005 Chinese hit drama Beauty Remains to a trio of parody videos to virally promote the 2010
MTV Movie Awards. Of the latter, he says, “I wrote four songs in a day and a half for that.” 

While paying the rent with these jobs, the prodigious musician nurtured his most fertile creative outlet since 
2009: Eytan & the Embassy. Joined by a four-piece live band, Eytan has earned comparisons to Ben Folds for his 
dexterous use of the piano, and Mark Ronson for his love of brass. Word of mouth about his buoyant live shows 
has also won him slots on the Summerfest and Isle of Wight lineups, plus gigs opening for the Old 97s and the 
Hold Steady. And in October 2010, Eytan & the Embassy embarked on its first-ever tour, opening for OK Go. 
Never one to slack, Oren subsequently created the Musician’s Energy Conservation Alliance (, a 
charity that helps facilitate green touring practices.

A gifted student, Oren was reared by his journalist dad and landscape-architect mom on an aural diet of Bob 
Dylan and The Beatles. He started taking piano lessons at age 6 and spent his formative years in Westchester, 
NY, before heading to Columbia University. There, he majored in music. “My parents have always been almost 
too supportive,” he says. “My grandmother was like, ‘Don’t get him a guitar on his birthday! One day he’ll be 
hanging out in bars with people who do drugs and smoke.’ And I do.”

Radiohead, in particular, proved a potent influence. “I went from being obsessive about Springsteen to kind of 
flipping into Radiohead. I probably saw Radiohead 10 times in college,” he says. “That was definitely the band 
that got me excited about playing.” He joined mostly guitar-centric indie-rock bands, such as The Diamond Club 
(with future OK Go member Andy Ross), and the pop-punk band Fuzzy Suzy—“a good band for what it was,” 
he quips, “only what it was, was not good.”

Then in 2008, Eytan rediscovered soul, which lent heart to his work. “Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’
had the biggest impact on me. I listened to it over and over,” he says. “It was such a huge creative leap from his 
earlier songs and so powerful on both a personal and cultural level. He was also such an amazing songwriter, 
entertainer, activist, and businessman. I would like to be that type of guy.” 
He’s off to an enticing start. Everything Changes, featuring appearances from OK Go’s Ross and members of 
Locksley, is collection of piano-and-horn-driven pop songs that focus on the sunny side of bummers. The 
Strokes-turned-Elton John banger “No Reason to Cry” begins as a consolation until exploding into a dance song. 
Meanwhile, the minor-keyed “Good Morning Marilyn” muses on interfaith dating while finding a blissful mean 
between the late-Beatles sound and ’90s guitar pop. Oren’s lead single, the percussive “Everything Changes” 
boasts sunny vocals from old friend Nicole Atkins and is, he says tellingly, “about having the guts to reinvent 

Indeed, ever the music omnivore, Oren has already been plotting to switch up his sound by tinkering with a 
Chinese violin called an erhu. The plan: to write pop songs using the old-timey instrument. No, he’s not 
masochistic—just ambitious. “I’m always thinking about what hasn’t been done, what might be interesting on a 
larger level than a chord change,” Oren says. “My favorite artists—Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Radiohead—all 
share one common theme: They constantly experiment, take risks, evolve.”

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It might sound strange, but it takes some serious soul to discover rock music's spirit and an absolute animal to find its superhuman funk.  Luckily, the modern listener has Spirit Animal to turn to for all of the above. 

The NYC-based band's forthcoming EP, This Is a Test, masterfully melds decades of disparate elements in search of music at its most carnal, anthemic and party-ready. The heavy riffs and pounding rhythms of their psychedelic rock and pop create a sound seemingly from the ether, but grounded in the diversity of four gents who are gifted at the dying art of leaving it all on the stage. 

Spirit Animal frontman Steve Cooper is a D.C. area-born talent, uncoiling a multitude of skills that go beyond the realm of melodies, production and body sweat into the worlds of cheffing and web content craftsmanship. KCRW calls him "unbelievable" and compares his stage presence to that of "mid-'70s era The Who."  Cooper met Spirit Animal bassist Paul Michel in the nation's Capitol in 2002, where the Libyan-born Army brat spent much of his youth.  Michel has toured with a half dozen bands including Georgie James (Saddle Creek Records) and it's his bottom -- he's the best dancer in the band-- that propel This Is a Test into otherworldly realms of low end theory. Upon that astral plane, guitarist Cal Stamp -- aka The Reverend Cal Sharpton -- provides sterling pop sensibility and face-melting solos that recall an era when Guitar Gods were the real Pop Stars.  Battening down the hatches is drummer Ronen Evron, an Israeli transplant by way of the technically unrivaled Berklee College of Music in Boston. The fearsome foursome adds up to an organism with one mission, and one mission only. 

"Rock n' roll embodies the entirety of modern music's spirit, but you can't have one without the other," Cooper says. "The roll's the part people sometimes forget, and that's sad since that's the party part." 

The list of influences that Spirit Animal rolls with is expansive, as pieces of familiarity peak out behind a smorgasbord of original ideas.  Their new school nonchalance is balanced by a fervent bombasticism reminiscent of early 90s era Red Hot Chili Peppers.  On the new EP, "Love Crime" blends Cooper's soulful expressions with a bar brawl hook that reflects the most universal of relationships gone bad.  Elsewhere, there's David Byrne-cum-Mike Patton soapboxing over the art throb of "Lead!" and the only thing more trippy than The Reverend's guitar solo on first single "Crocodile Skins" is the forest Shaman enlightenment of the track's music video (shot shirtless in 22 degree weather, mind you). By the time This Is a Test delves into a tried and true na-na-na-na-na sing-a-long (on "WTF"), it's obvious that this band can and does do everything music fans could ask for. 

Live, the band is at once manic and precise with a non-stop show full of careening solos, call-and-response choruses, and lots (and lots) of the aforementioned body sweat. Spirit Animal have been called an "unmissable live act," and it’s been said their "furious energy and fierce musicianship" are poised to not only stand the test of time, but help.

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