Last night was the first time I'd seen L.A. staple Eleni Mandell in about two or three years. After the release of her album, Afternoon, my interest kinda faded away (through no fault of Mandell's, mind you...life just got carried away from me, y'know). But last night, I figured "What the hell...why not?" and hopped down to The Ale House to check her out.
The joint was pretty well packed and super steamy; several women were fanning themselves in the upper balcony. Mandell and her band were radiant...every note seemed to shimmer like the glint of L.A. sun off a convertible's hood. I was kind of stunned by how much more Waits-ian her songs were. Her band sounded like a collaboration between Tom Waits himself and composer Angelo Badalamenti.
Seeing her at The Ale House also reminded me that it was one of my favorite SXSW venues. It's tucked into an alley, and down a maze of staircases that would be easy to trip on if drunk enough. Their is a rickety balcony that offers great vantage points for such a small joint. But I do have to wonder: since the address for the joint is on 6th St., how many times a night do the bouncers on 6th have to instruct patrons that the show is actually around the corner and down the dark alley?