Hundred Waters hypnotize with new show at El Rey

Los Angeles-based art pop band Hundred Waters pulled out every stop to kick off their mini west-coast tour with a hometown show Friday night at the El Rey Theatre.

The band debuted their new live production, called ARRAY, which was designed by Timeboy (known for his visual work with Flying Lotus among others). It featured a mesmerizing array of these mirrored circles, with an incredible light setup. It was a perfect complement to a set that leaned heavily on the band’s 2017 release Communicating, which I consider one of the year’s best albums.

The show kicked off with the title track from the record, lead singer and lyricist Nicole Miglis sitting at a piano that sat in the middle of the stage. Miglis chanted “Are we communicating? It’s so complicated,” the lights bouncing off her face and the mirrored stage setup behind her. The album traces the breakup and reconciliation between Miglis and multi-instrumentalist Trayer Tryon, and it’s what I consider to be the best breakup album in years, particularly because the hopeful tone some of the songs take.

The crowd was much more quiet than I remember them being at this same venue when Hundred Waters played the El Rey a few years back. The band’s profile has grown organically, without much in terms of major radio airplay. Their live shows have caught up to their studio sound and they are firing on all cylinders, as evidence by the crowd being hypnotized.

“Particle” was a high point, as Miglis flexed her Bjork-like vocals in an outfit that Bjork would have been right at home in, a puffy number with a red beret atop her head to match the red in her hair. “Particle” is the song that stands out as one with EDM crossover based on the building to the crescendo. I also really enjoy the sound of Zach Tetreault’s drumming, particularly the tempo-driving drum roll sound on “Prison Guard”.

The band closed their regular set with “Blanket Me”, another strong number from the album. Miglis was surrounded by a handful of dancers, who acted out the choreography of Sara Silkin, who worked in tandem with Miglis on developing it for their live show. It was this aspect and more that showcase how much thought Hundred Waters puts into not only their music, but also how they are able to control the narrative and interpretation with these other mediums.

Photo gallery below by Liat Halmos