“Chameleons Vox Rocks”
Written by Jason Reed
September 13, 2017
I had the pleasure of witnessing Mark Burgess (under the name Chameleons Vox) performing to a packed house at the Echoplex on Monday, September 11th. The last time Mark played in Los Angeles I had the chance to interview him at length about the history of the band:
This time I got to briefly chat with him before the show. He had a big smile on his face when telling me that on the prior night he proposed to his girlfriend Lydia (forever cementing the Echoplex as a venue near and dear to his heart). He also talked about the surprising resilience of this tour, having faced Visa challenges that prevented his guitarist from touring (and making this, potentially, the last time that his full band tours playing the classic Chameleons back catalog of songs). Luckily, the members of Soft Kill were able to lend their guitar expertise to “save the day” and give Mark the shot of new blood and energy that was needed under the circumstances.
Opening up the crowd was LA’s The Wraith, a 4-piece punk band featuring former Blink 182 drummer Scott Raynor. It was clear seeing the tournout from a younger demographic of Angelinos (as well as their energetic responsiveness to the band) that the Wraith’s draw was sizeable. Frontman Davey Bales had a imposing stage presence, his tall frame and high energy commanding attention.
Next up to bat was the legendary post-punk Kirk Brandon of Theatre of Hate, who performed an intimate, yet substantive set of 12 songs with cellist Sam Sansbury. Like Mark’s band, Kirk also apparently was impacted by visa issues preventing other members of the band from touring. In spite of these challenges (or perhaps due to them) Kirk’s performance felt organic and heartfelt, proving once again that “necessity is the mother of invention” and that sometimes less is in fact more.
Mark Burgess performed an impassioned set of deeper Chameleons’ tracks (apparently all different than those he performed the prior night). Highlights included “Up The Down Escalator,” the mesmerizing “Here Today” (one of my personal favorites), the anthemic “In Answer” and the classic “Don’t Fall” for the final encore. Mark’s bass playing was stellar and inspired. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Seeing Ryan, Conrad and Tobias of Soft Kill step in to assist the band was an impressive feat of skill and competency. In talking to the boys after the show, they mentioned having had to “cram” to learn the requisite back catalog of Chameleons tunes, each practicing their separate sets of songs in the same room with one another at the same time!
In true chameleon fashion, it was a night of adaptability and shedding of one’s old skin, with one eye looking to the past and the other eye looking towards the future.
Congratulations to Mark and his new fiancé Lydia on their engagement!
For more concert info and updates check out: www.chameleonsv.com.
To stay up on all the new things happening with Soft Kill (including a new studio release coming in spring of 2018) check out their official Facebook page here.