Live Review: Dezign Flaw at Cafè NELA in Los Angeles, CA

Material: Dezign Flaw is a throwback to the pop/rock/punk sounds of the ‘80s but with their very own, unique style. They have an R.E.M. feel to their songs in a well-written, well-crafted format that makes you want to get up and dance. “Vamp-Ire” is a hard rockin’ tune that pushes the psychedelic sounds of the ‘60s and the punk tunes of the ‘70s and ‘80s and manages to keep a modern groove that drives the song to its end. Most of the band’s songs start out with ‘80s grooves and slowly push to the edge of punk, tease you a little and then settle back into their original rhythmic roulade.

Musicianship: Whitten and Larstead have been playing together for a while now, as their rhythm section is strong. All their tunes are rhythmically on the money—solid, with very few flaws. Both guys are confident in their playing and it shows, both visually and sonically. Wiser and Avilez play well off each other. Both are seasoned guitar players who push the envelope with tasteful enthusiasm. Avilez brings more of the psychedelia to the group with great tones and soothing leads, while Wiser lays down perfect power chords that fill the room with respectable auditory sensations and lets Avilez’s guitar cut through like a hot knife through butter. The vocals, however, on all instances, are weak. It seems all the hard work has gone into writing the music, but the vocals are left behind. Even the backing vocals need a lot of work.

Performance: Despite the group’s shortcomings as singers, the overall performance was good. Dezign Flaw are confident in their abilities and it shows. They have fun grooving to their own tunes, as well they should. Wiser laid on the floor at one point, playing guitar in an amusing fit that brought smiles to the audience and made them run for their cameras while Whitten was dancing and grooving to the bass lines that intertwined with the thumping drums.

Summary: Dezign Flaw are overall a tight band of musicians. They need to work a little bit harder—especially focusing on their vocals—to get their act to that next level, but it’s well within reach.

The Players: James Wiser, guitar, lead vocals; Jose Avilez, lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals; Bill Larstead, drums; Mark Whitten, bass.

Photo By Sidney Higgins

Venue: Cafè NELA
City: Los Angeles, CA
Contact: [email protected]

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