Photos + Review by NOTES FROM VIVACE
LOS ANGELES – I have long followed the band Cuffed Up. I first came across the band in 2019 at a now-closed Los Angeles venue called The Satellite.
Though I started following the band in 2019, my history with the band members goes farther back. In 2016, I came across singer-guitarist Ralph Torrefranca in his solo project, at the time, Dr. Doctor at a music festival called Broke LA. That project had a tropical sound to it, but there was an under-current in the music that inspired the post-punk sounds of Cuffed Up.
I came across singer-guitarist Sapphire Jewell in 2017. I walked into The Smell on that distant date and caught the final strains of the intricate and complex sounds of her band Gypsum. Maybe I caught, at best, 30 seconds of their set as I was buying my ticket, but I was immediately intrigued and later caught a full set at The Echo.
Fast forward to the present day. At Gold Diggers, they kicked off their 19-stop tour. The tour will take them across the country where for most of the stops they’ll be supporting Joy Formidable. The last stop of the tour will be on November 15th at The Roxy.
With that informational formality out of the way, their Gold Diggers set was timed with meticulous precision from the first song “Finer Things” to the final song “10 for 10.” The night had a “curfew” of 10 p.m. as the venue was having a disco, funk night afterwards and the band hit their final notes with just seconds left on the “curfew” clock. In between those bookending songs, their song “Canaries” stood out with its frantic pace that has guitar shredding and warning pings going off throughout that help bring home the lyrics:
“He’s carrying the weight of stones. And he keeps going with pins to his bones. The canaries fainted a while ago. But still down down to the den he goes.”
“French Exit” has a heavy opening beat that sends a pleasant chill up your spine. Jewel takes the vocal leads with poetry slam session vibes that provide the audience with an anxiety ridden bedtime story. In a blink of an eye and you miss it moment, bassist Vic Ordonez did the perfect bass pirouette without missing a beat while drummer Joe Liptock kept the pace throughout the 10 song setlist.
Opening up the night was Talker and Annabel Lee. Since I’m writing about my fun history with Cuffed Up, I’ll continue that with Talker and Annabel Lee. I came across Talker in 2018 at a WFNM holiday party at Madame Siam. I went to see a favorite, Zealyn (a singer I just recently covered for U.S. Rocker) and came away with an additional favorite singer.
I first crossed paths with Annabel Lee in 2019. It was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever witnessed during my time in the Los Angeles music scene. The venue apparently had a double booking issue and so each band on the bill only got 10 to 20 minutes. The last band, I believe, only got to play 2 songs. For the night, Talker did an excellent cover of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” while Annabel Lee had the crowd screaming for the women of Iran.