Live Review: Valora, Matt Toka — Roxy, West Hollywood
Tue, 15 Nov 2011 07:41:38
Los Angeles possesses the best rock 'n' roll legacy of any city in America.
You can trace the metropolis's musical lineage back to The Doors and Guns N' Roses as well as System of a Down and most recently Five Finger Death Punch—even though they've adopted Las Vegas as home now.
Nevertheless, all of those legends and so many more hailed from the city of angels. However, for the past decade, the Sunset Strip has been a bit of sleeping giant, biding the time to bare its teeth once more and tear through the general zeitgeist. That moment has arrived, and Valora's claws are out.
Last night at The Roxy, Valora exuded the same fearless and fascinating spirit that characterized the musical demigods before them. Without wasting any time, the six-piece immediately launched into "No Matter What", which sailed from a speedy riff into a propulsive refrain elegantly carried by singer Syd Duran. The frontwoman commanded the stage, stalking the edge while interacting with her band mates simultaneously. Ultimately, the room belonged to Syd as soon as her sister Taelor's keyboards took hold during the group's single, "I Waited for You". Their tandem assault proved potent, powerful, and softly poignant. The guitars bludgeoned with a razor sharp thrash groove peeking through the orchestral spaces from Taelor's flawless playing. Syd's pristine delivery captivated just before she let out one final scream and the room roared back at her.
"Blow Me Away" bubbled over with schizophrenic metallic energy, and Syd continued to bewitch. That fire burned equally bright at the heart of "Extreme", which could also serve as another massive anthem for the group due its cinematic keyboard swells and deep guitar embrace. The haunting buildup of set closer "Summer Stay" slowed everything down to a slinking, sexy syncopation. Duran's voice exuded a soulfulness that elevates her above the realm of rock and into something more transcendent. Valora's time is now.
If Valora are on the road to rock supremacy, then Matt Toka is next in line for the modern punk rock crown. The most remarkable thing about Toka is he doesn't limit himself to punk. There's a healthy dose of metal and a smattering of pop just below the surface of his sound.
Like a 21st century Billie Joe Armstrong, he ravaged and razed the stage, even leaving it to sing from the heart of the Roxy's mosh pit. After his band tore through the immortal riff from Pantera's "Cowboys From Hell", Toka launched to the mic like a man possessed, crooning the caffeinated chorus of his "Straight to Hell" effortlessly and engagingly.
The riffs sounded like Green Day on a bender with some Metallica-sized steroids and Toka's voice emanates an undeniable raw passion that's bound to resonate with a generation more disenfranchised than even Kurt Cobain could've imagined. "Ode to My Family", a heartbreaking autobiographical tune, swooned on the strength of Toka's marvelous knack for a hook and uncontainable presence. "666" was a party for the end of the world that solidified its mouthpiece as a punk prophet for the Facebook age. His approach is ballsy and bruising a la Mötley Crüe, but there's a fresh sense of humor snaking throughout. It's the perfect combination.
Ultimately, Los Angeles is coming back to life like Frankenstein's monster courtesy of a shock from Matt Toka and Valora. Both of their debuts in 2012 will undoubtedly be must-haves.
Were you there?
See Syd's exclusive blog on ARTISTdirect.com here!