Electronic artist skips a beat
With the music scene as diverse as it is in this city, one never knows exactly what to expect when going to a show in Houston — nor should they be surprised when they realize that the atmosphere is completely different than they had imagined.
This rings especially true for the folks that gathered to see Texas-natives This Will Destroy You and John LaMonica this past weekend at Fitzgerald’s in the Heights.
Originally from Irving, LaMonica got started with music at an early age. He began with the piano and then learned several brass instruments and took up the guitar when he was a teenager. Because his father is a professional trumpet player, music has been an important aspect of his life for a long time.
“I took a lot of lessons when I was a kid,” LaMonica said. “Music was a big deal, and my parents were really into it from a performance and learned-music stand point.
“Applied music was and is a very respectable thing, but then I started playing rock and roll — so that was a little different. It just wasn’t quite what my parents had in mind.”
Though it’s his first tour in about two years, LaMonica has been working with members of This Will Destroy You for a some time. While he was living in Austin, he played a few shows with keyboardist Donovan Jones of San Marcos-based This Will Destroy You.
“We’re all friends, Donovan, Alex and I all go way back,” he said. “Donovan would come up and we would play a few shows together doing improvisational electronic stuff.”
LaMonica brought electronic beats that were peppered with lyrics that seem, in part, influenced by the likes of The Temper Trap and U2 in sound and quality all the way from Lawrence, Kan. and delivered them effortlessly to an low-energy crowd of about 100 people, ranging from age 10 to 85, which is a tough audience to master.
“I work the audience based on how I feel they’re going to feel,” he said. “If I feel sort of a dissonance from the audience — like they’re not going to go to a place where I want to go, I move things around in my set.
“It’s very organic in that I can move things around and not have it drastically alter my set. I could just throw anything into the pot and it’s fun to think that the set could go anywhere.”
Sporting a white V-neck, black denim jeans, a pair of Converse tennis shoes and a set of 1980s-style earmuff headphones, LaMonica opened with a slower piano tune, which he manipulated on the turntable just below the laptop that played looped recordings of his music.
“I’ve got a laptop in front of me, which is a weird dissociative thing with a lot of people. They see a laptop on stage and they don’t really know how this performer is going to put it out there, but it seems as though people have been really getting into this one-man-performance thing.”
With an audience so diverse, capturing the audience was no easy feat. Those that hadn’t walked off to get a beer moved only slightly and lacked the energy or desire to be invested in his performance — but LaMonica did put on an interesting performance for those that were interested.
“I DJ a lot in my spare time outside of performance,” he said. “I’ve gotten to the point where I can see people moving and have to figure out how to drive a crowd from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B.’ As far as the feverishness of the night, I really just try to get into it and transfer my energy.”
Since the days of jamming with friends, he’s opened for Devin the Dude here in Texas and delved into several different side projects and has even produced a few artists from his living room in Lawrence, Kan.
“Music is not necessarily somewhere I want to go, it’s somewhere I want to exist,” LaMonica said. “It’s what I want to do all the time; it’s what I want to surround myself with, all I think about, all I talk about. Music is basically the sum of me.
“It’s not that I want to go anywhere necessarily — I’m happy where I am with my music and with the idea that everyday somebody’s hearing it.”