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Concert Review: The Submarines

Written by: Carl Johnson, Special to CC2K

ImageOn a recent Saturday night, I hit the Troubadour to see Los Angeles’ own The Submarines. You may have heard them in every one of the iPhone commercials. Or you might have caught their song on the Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist soundtrack. Oh yeah, this little local band has blown up big in the last year, big enough to sell out the 500 person venue and bring every tween in town out to a night of live music.

It has been a while since I walked into a venue and felt old, but man did I feel old. It could be that the first person that talked to me asked me what high school I was going to. It could be the person that was next to me wearing a class of 2012 shirt. It could be the dirty looks I got from mom’s and dad’s telling others to not push their children.

I guess this happens when a band is featured on a soundtrack for a huge teen movie and an iPhone commercial, the kids will come.

We were treated to Berkeley’s The Morning Benders as the opening act. If you have yet to listen or hop on the hype train, it's time to get your ticket. This indie rock group reminds me of The Shins or Explosions in the Sky really stole the show.

Singer and guitarist Chris Chu really has something with this group. I will say when he is singing it is just like every local band you stop in and check out for a few minutes. It is all very forgettable, very generic, very blah.

It’s when Chu stops singing and just lets his band’s Phil Spector wall of sound overlaying guitars kick up that everything comes together. Every song had a long swirling guitar ending that really got the crowd going. It was in these moments where the band seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. It was these moments where I thought this band is going to make it big.

Chu also got the crowd to yell along with some song where the chorus was just, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” repeated over and over. While most LA crowds are ones that are not participants every 16-year-old kid joined in and got the floor moving. It was refreshing to see this and take the snob factor out of an indie rock show.

The night continued with the husband-and-wife duo, The Submarines. While they are a two-piece act, a drummer and everyone’s favorite musician, the Macbook accompanied them.

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This was the last night of the tour and you can tell the band was glad to be back home. Singer and xylophone extraordinaire Blake Hazard in brown boots and a grey dress explained to the crowd “We have been on the road for the last month and its great to be back."

Complete with plastic flowers on the amps and xylophone you knew you were in for something. And this something was a set mostly filled with the sappy love songs of their current release Honeysuckle Weeks.

“In the van we have been working on our Spanish, it es no bueno. If you want to help us with our Spanish come by the merch booth at the end and we will talk,” Hazard joked with the audience.

Someone then yelled something in what I believe to be French. It wasn’t English, it wasn’t Spanish, and it wasn’t something anyone in the band understood either.


Hazard showed tonight why the band has focused more on her vocals for the new album. She has a lovely voice and between playing a beat up green Fender guitar (complete with a vote Obama/Biden 2008), xylophone, lemon shaker, tambourine and piano harmonica proved she is the complete package.

It took almost the whole set to get to the song most people at the show were waiting for. As the girl next to me said, “when are they going to play the Iphone commercial song”?

“I know you have been all waiting for it, its time for You, Me and the Bourgeoisie”.

The sea of heads banging back and forth, people jumping up and down, and a full accompanying clap beat from the audience proved what having a song in a commercial leads to. It leads to a ton of fun.

To prove they are more than a band that writes bubbly teenage love songs guitarist and sometimes vocalist John Dragonetti took the lead on Xavia with Hazard backing up the vocals. This was defiantly a highlight of the set and a great way for the band to leave the stage. With the new album focusing on Hazard’s vocals one almost forgets that their first album Declare a New State! was a mix of both singers’ vocals.

With the normal interlude before the encore Hazard saw a friend on the side of the stage and went to give the said friend a kiss on the cheek. Unfortunately her balance in her knee high brown leather boots did not support her decision and she fell off the side of the stage.

With an almost laugh to her voice Hazard explained to the crowd, “I just fell off the stage, what a way to come back for an encore.”

It was two more songs and then off to the merch booth for The Submarines. It is always nice to see a band selling their own merch after a show and there was a huge crowd buying shirts, stickers and posters. I stopped at the both to tell them that their set was “muy bueno.”

For more information on The Submarines, visit their official website.