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LA vibes with bands Wallice and Jawny at Neumos

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Photo by Lauren Vasatka
Photo by Lauren Vasatka

Los Angeles—based indie pop artist Wallice played at the Neumos nightclub on Capitol Hill last Thursday, opening for singer-songwriter Jawny as part of the latter artist's North American tour. The line for the show went down the block and turned the corner onto Broadway, since the performance was open to adults under 21.

Photo by Lauren Vasatka  

That well describes, in short, the crowd that arrived in time for Wallice's set, which featured hit tunes like the self-deprecating "Punching Bag" and "Japan," her latest single and an homage to her Japanese heritage.

What some might call "Los Angeles vibes" were strong that evening. The sunny outfits onstage and in the crowd were of a kind rarely permitted by the frigid winters of the Pacific Northwest. Some guests wore T-shirts, light jackets, and even shorts, though many others were in flannels or fleece. Most looked like they were at least college-age.

At the nightclub's bar in the loft, the 21-and-ups gathered at the few tables along the railing to watch the stage below. Half of the people at the VIP table found most of their view blocked by a large speaker array, but the rest of the vantage points were good, and in high demand. Moving from a spot at the front, for either a drink or a bathroom break, meant losing it to another eager patron.

Wallice's biggest enthusiasts were at the foot of the stage, as one would expect. They were the life of the party, ready to belt out the lyrics of some of the artist's more popular songs when prompted. It's no wonder why her songs resonate with the college crowd; their lyrics and tone evoke the woes of dating while young in the digital age (especially the woes of dating cisgender men, it seems).

"Punching Bag" gained wide recognition in 2020 after being featured on Spotify's official "Lorem" playlist, which shows off fresh artists and has over 900,000 followers. Wallice and her bandmates — all good friends of hers, she has said — have since opened for YouTube sensation Chloe Moriondo, and toured with Oakland-based singer-songwriter Still Woozy as well.

The full crowd had yet to arrive, however; it seemed some guests had opted to show up only for the headliner, so the audience dynamic was relaxed at first. At the end of the set, Wallice took selfies with the phones of a few people at the front, and accepted the gift of a fabric rose, which she tucked into the back of her shirt as she gathered her stage materials.

Photo by Lauren Vasatka  

The entrance of Jawny marked a seismic shift in the mood of the joint, though at a magnitude familiar to a San Francisco—born musician such as him; it was still indie pop they'd be playing, but with indie funk mixed in, and certainly from a different perspective.

Jawny and his bandmates, bassist Eli Pomonarenko and drummer Donny Electric, were in more casual outfits. By contrast, their lighting setup wasn't so understated, changing colors and flickering in elaborate patterns to fit the tone of each song.

The dance floor, and the railing in the loft, filled in even more as the band was setting up. An older demographic joined the crowd below, including a few men with balding heads and boxy, black-framed glasses — a look that said something like "aging techie."

The headliner's popularity became especially clear after they started playing. Jawny worked the crowd relentlessly, thanking Seattle for the sellout show at least three times, and pulling the "I can't hear you" routine even more often than that. And the crowd ate it up each time.

Jawny is perhaps best known for "Honeypie," a short funk ditty with sexual undertones that blew up on Spotify soon after its release in 2020. Both its tempo and restraint are uncharacteristic of the rest of his songs, like "Trigger of Love," which is both slower and more overt.

His energy during songs matched his set fairly well, but his bandmates absolutely stole the spotlight with their showmanship and musicianship alike. Donny Electric went wild on his drum set, even while providing backup vocals, and Eli Pomonarenko was practically jumping up and down during some truly impressive bass runs.

No matter what was playing, a much larger portion of the crowd were versed in the lyrics than during the opener. They could sing along and follow call-and-response prompts without hesitation, and as the band walked off the stage after the final song, the farewell cheers were so loud that they were actually painful in that enclosed space.