Candygram for Mongo Rocks the Whisky A Go Go

by Dan O'Day McClellan on November 1, 2013


IMG_0291Since I moved to Los Angeles 20 years ago with a fake ID, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing lots of bands perform at some great venues: Spaceland, The Derby, and Al’s Bar among them, all of which were situated on the city’s Eastern side, and all of which are gone now, renamed, replaced or altogether torn down. On the west side of town however, many of the city’s classic clubs are alive and kicking. The Key Club is gone, but the Troubadour, the Roxy, and the Viper Room remain. And, of course, so does the world famous Whisky A Go Go. In a town positively filled with famous venues, the Whisky is the king of them all, having hosted an absolutely astonishing array of bands through the years. The Doors was the house band here. The Police used the club as their private rehearsal space before their 2007 reunion world tour. The Kinks, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Ramones, to name but a few of the world famous acts, all have all taken the stage. Stiff competition for sure. Tuesday night of this week, I ventured out to the Whisky to see local rock n’ pop n’ country rollers Candygram For Mongo play a set at the legendary club. And against the backdrop of the club’s historic legacy, they did themselves proud.

C4M, as the band is informally known, has typically been on the undercard during their seven year career, opening for such well known acts as Hootie and the Blowfish, The Smithereens, and the B-52’s, as well as local metal-cheese heroes Steel Panther along the way. On Tuesday however, C4M played a strong headline set in support of their new record Bang! thoroughly rocking the Whisky crowd.

Perhaps the band’s greatest strength is the quality of the songwriting. Many of C4M’s song are like micro-novels that tell fully formed tales with clear beginnings, middles, and ends, and all with a clearly defined sense of humor that you just don’t find very often.

Crafting a performance that was by turns funny, charming, and ferocious, C4M’s 16 song set drew from their three recordings and included blazing numbers “Superfly Love Assassin,” the story of a bawdy superspy, “Moon,” a sexy surf number, “Fairfax Ave,” the band’s rockin’ love letter to Los Angeles, intermingled with some more mid tempo numbers like “I Wonder,” a ride along on a double date, and “Diesel of the Damned,” a hilarious and somehow heartbreaking tale of a truck driver making the long haul through eternity.

IMG_0314 From left to right: James Baker, Jack Gravina, Gary Shapiro, Tony Shea and Dan Cohen

Frontman and acoustic guitarist Tony Shea, got the crowd going and kept them going, especially towards the end of the set as the band broke out their tale of romantic glory,”Big Mary,” which evolved into a kind of Springsteenesque church service that sang the praises of big gals everywhere, before roaring to a close. Gary Shapiro, aka G Sharp, made the most of his kit, pounding away on the skins, punctuating the songs with crashing symbol exclamation points, and driving the band forward from song to song. Bassist and background singer James Baker was an adept showman leaping around the stage and complementing Shea’s voice with his ridiculously fantastic harmonizing. Lead guitarist Dan Cohen consistently lit up the songs with his accomplished solos, running the neck with his fingers and a slide, and giving many of the songs their signature country-ish flavor. Finally, new keyboardist Jack Gravina helped flesh out the band’s sound, adding organ, synth, and piano, as well as backing vocals, most especially on the band’s more rockabilly style numbers like “Down in Flames.”

As I watched the crowd dancing and cheering along with C4M’s many anthemic songs, I realized that Candygram for Mongo is a band that gets it, and they give it, engaging in a back and forth exchange of energy with the audience where each compliments the other to achieve maximum fun.

You should buy Candygram For Mongo’s new album on itunes Here.

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Dan O'Day McClellan (Contributing Editor, Los Angeles)

Pennsylvania native Dan O'Day McClellan is a seasoned actor, writer, comedian, voice over artist and producer. Dan is the founding member of Los Angeles improv comedy troupe, The Omelettes. Dan's ongoing film making/producing work with Pete Galaxie Productions includes the award-winning short film, The Silence of Bees, along with the short films, Just Out of Reach, Reality of the Situation and The Afikomen. Dan's 1st Novel, Lognotes of a Wino, is due out in fall of 2015.

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Chris November 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm

A fun time was had by all!

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