Alex’s Bar Long Beach, CA
Contact: [email protected]
Players: Rachel Anne Rainwater, guitar, vocals; Ray Barbee, guitar; Tony Alva, bass; Matthew Rainwater, drums
Material: We caught the fascinatingly named His Eyes Have Fangs for the first time as they opened up for comedy-rock troupe the Sloppy Boys in Long Beach. It made for an interesting night, though there’s nothing funny about these guys. There are some oddities, however. Guitarist Ray Barbee and bassist Tony Alva are both well-known local skateboarders, as well as longtime musicians. Barbee is known for his pioneering freestyle skating, and he has his own Vans shoe. Alva was an original Z-Boy (Zephyr Competition Skateboarding Team), and he played with Venice punks Skoundrelz and Hollywood rockers Junkyard, before joining this band in 2013.
Barbee isn’t listed on their Facebook page as a member, so he may be a recent addition. Regardless, the music that they’re making together now, alongside drummer Matthew Rainwater, is a wonderful blend of psychedelic rock and dream-pop, with a punk edge. And in singer and guitarist Rachel Anne Rainwater, they have an exemplary focal point—ethereal and captivating. They didn’t have a long set and only manage to squeeze in six songs, but from the opening “Into the Sun” they made the most of every second.
Musicianship: The band is fascinating, actually. Barbee is a unique, eclectic guitarist, apparently as pioneering with his instrument as he is with his board. Not unlike Tom Morello, Barbee wrangles sounds out of his guitar that don’t seem like they came out of a guitar. Alva and Matthew Rainwater are more than the average rhythm section, adding flourishes when they feel the urge. And Rachel Anne Rainwater has a voice that is simply gorgeous. It takes you on a journey, and it’s not always pretty. She’s as reminiscent of PJ Harvey as she is Beth Orton.
Performance: The band pretty much stays in place, yet there’s something hypnotic about the way Barbee and Alva move with their instruments. Meanwhile, the singer looks like a Lynchian hallucination, swaying like a Twin Peaks nightclub performer on tunes such as “Datura’s Moonflower” and “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand).”
Summary: His Eyes Have Fangs have been around for much longer than we would have guessed, and the L.A. band have found a sound that is very much their own. Collectively, they’re a supremely talented bunch and it’s easy to imagine their music scoring a TV show or movie—they just need a whole lot more people to discover them.