Live at Highland Grounds, LA
Review by Ross Anthony

Bursting out of a very small space, Turnstile adjusts the last knob, tunes the last peg, then easily takes command of the cozy venue with its sweet vocal harmonies and tight timeless rhythmic pop songs. Just enough crunch at the right times, the essentially diplomatic sounds will satisfy a variety of listeners across a variety of decades.

My bud Don invited me to hear this band, using names such as Incubus to describe their sound. A music lover and musician myself, I fear to say I've all but given up on the radio as a result of advert burn out. So, it's just me and my rapidly aging CD collection. Consequently, I'm imperfectly up to date on the rock/pop music scene. Still, there's a host of older bands with which to relate the sounds of Turnstile: The Beatles, The Knack, Squeeze, XTC. And occasionally the un-amplified drum (small kit) reminded me of something U2 would bang out. The two singer/songwriters trading acoustic for lead, create tight harmonies and rhythms with sweet careful dynamics and a bass as low and tastefully subtle as worn by the player.

Easily a fine show, even a forgotten capo incident which lead to an impossiblely high pitched vocal and restart, seemed to add to the all-in-good-fun atmosphere, darned good music and consistent applause from this local crowd.

Their last two songs, played all acoustic, called up the country flavor of Billy Pilgrim and ended perfectly on a coincidental strike of beer bottles to ice by the hardworking bartender.

Turnstile was followed by Leila and her nearly all keyboard band. The warm intro song backed by an African drum gave way to more prevalent 80's techno pop back ups. The female lead, though flattening some lines which felt oddly foreign to the musical texture, shows a great deal of talent when she hits the mark (which is more often than not). Reminiscent of Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman, even Stevie Nicks and Natalie Merchant in vocals; perhaps Eurythmics in keys.

Later still, half a band showed up. They displayed solid musicianship, but with just a sax and acoustic guitar, it was kind of like listening to David Matthews out of the left speaker only.

Movies monopolizing my evenings out, I was amazed how these bands spent less time playing than setting up, with only the narrow isles crowed with beer toting patrons to exit with their instruments and eq. That's impressive and unfortunate at the same time. However, I do have one PR suggestion ... each band should have a sign with its dot com posted clearly on the wall. Oh and kudos to the sound mixer ... bright and punchy, but not ear-splitting.

The creative engine of "Turnstile" came to be thanks to want ads in the LA Recycler, "I think Aditya's ad mentioned The Beatles, Nirvana and Radiohead. Meanwhile my ad listed Beatles, Foo Fighters, and Radiohead -- we were both singer/guitarists looking for a band and we had similar tastes was love at first site" says the band's Jason Orme.

For more info:

  • Turnstile. Copyright © 2002.
  • Based on the Friday, July 12th, 02 live "Semi-Acoustic Set" at Highland Grounds in Hollywood (742 N. Highland Ave.).
  • Jason Orme, Aditya Rao, Johnny Vergara, Dieter Weinzettl.
  • Produced by Matt Chidgey at Splendid Recordings.

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:52:08 PDT