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Eastern Conference Champions ~ LIVE ~ Safari Sam’s ~ Hollywood

11:52 AM PST on November 28, 2006


Just three dudes from Philadelphia and one full, orchestral sound. Throw together tambourines and shakers on top of explosive rock pounding from Greg Lyons (drums), gauzy harmonies between Josh Ostrander (lead vocals and guitar) and Vern Zaborowski (bass) and you’ve got the multi-layered celestial sounding Eastern Conference Champions teetering at its pinnacle. Draped in candy-colored luminosity on Safari Sam’s lofty stage, the Champions rocked out (sadly, without Ostrander’s cock out) for their first Los Angeles performance after a series of unfortunate van troubles causing them to miss their peviously scheduled shows in the city of Tacos.
Despite the Mozart-influenced intricacy these East Coast music architects execute, the guys are nothing short of a good f’n rock band. Just when I had attended a series of make-me-wanna-poke-my-fucking-eyeballs-out shows where the performers and listeners alike hardly showed signs of any pulses in between tossing their side-swept tresses, I thought, Thank Gawd for the Eastern Champions. My faith in American indie rock was restored. They manage to summon all of those crucial influences—The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, and Rufus Wainwright—to create a series of songs, showcased on a brand new sampler scheduled for release in the spring, tinged with a quality of the present, while at times seeming to intertwine a bit of “The Bends” with a soupcon of “Hail to the Thief”.


Ostrander’s voice, with its nasal quality, soars through the vocal gamut, resembling Thom Yorke’s in some instances and falling into moments of Latin-reminiscent molasses. It was something like Caetano Veloso in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Talk With Her” scene in which the internationally renowned Brazilian singer/songwriter serenades a still audience on a sultry Spanish summer night with "Cucurrucucú Paloma". Only replace Almodóvar’s curly haired bullfighter protagonista with a herd of Hollywood hipsters at Safari Sam’s “Check Yo’ Pony Tail” on a Tuesday night and stick ‘em in a 99 Cents store parking lot for a cigarette—all in the name of the Champions—relishing in the aftermath of Ostrander’s cacophonous belches, also rendered heart wrenchingly remarkable.


The trio appears to be causing a stir locally and now internationally, touring in the UK before returning to the U.S. of A., and relocating from the Philly chill to Los Angeles. Their nascent national name is fueled the most by their song “Nice Clean Shirt” and “To the Wind”, the former in the Champion vein—that is, beautiful with a classically U.S. touch. It’s only a matter of time before an ECC show at Safari Sam’s finds the cool kids camping in the parking lot to merely overhear traces of a most merited ovation for the Eastern Conference Champions. Bravo, ECC! We welcome you to LA.

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