An unnaturally warm December evening set the scene for one of the most promising nights of music in Los Angeles left in the calendar year. With the holiday season upon the world, it’s easy to imagine that travel and other festive commitments would result in a less than full house, but that wasn’t the case at The Echo this past Friday night, as the bill of Alex Lahey and Dude York attracted a vibrant sell-out crowd.

Local singer-songwriter Liv Slingerland set the mood with a performance of songs that impressed the early birds present before the self-proclaimed “America’s Band” Dude York took the stage. Appearing in what could easily be constituted as a victory lap following this year’s critically well-received album Sincerely, the Seattle indie rock trio gave a fun, rousing performance befitting the mark they’ve made on the modern musical landscape this past year.

The group paused mid set to explain that, for this set, they would perform a suite of songs from their recently released (and seasonally appropriate) EP of holiday-themed songs called Halftime For The HolidaysIt’s impossible for me to say with a straight face that the best part of seeing Dude York play live was singing along to such irreverent songs like “Takin’ Care of Christmas” and “Jingle Bells Rock,” and not hits like “Love Is” or “Tonight,” but damn it, for one night, that was absolutely the case.

It was then time for Alex Lahey and her backing band to take the stage. Drawing largely from this year’s I Love You Like a Brother, and playing to a crowd both familiar and energetically receptive to her work, Lahey worked the crowd deftly. All night long, the audience joining in on rollicking rock songs with bittersweet lyrics. The sing-alongs were plentiful, as songs like “Lotto In Reverse,” “Everyday’s The Weekend” and the title track basically beg it. We even got a cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” that sounded refreshing in Lahey and company’s hands.

Imbruglia being an Australian national treasure wasn’t the only reason why Lahey’s native country would be on her mind during this intercontinental jaunt across the pacific. Between songs, she relayed to the LA crowd the story of being informed on-stage during the band’s set in San Diego the previous evening about Australia’s landmark vote to legalize same-sex marriage, and how much joy and pride it brought her and her bandmates for the people of their homeland. After how dark and insidious a year 2017 has been, it was nice to be reminded that the light, passion and spirit of artists can and will persevere and bring significant moments of joy like witnessing these two rising bands amid a captivated crowd. I for sure will hold onto the memory of this show dearly.

Check out Alex Lahey, Dude York and Liv Slingerland by clicking their names.

Words and photos by Lee Bedrouni