Concert Review: Sleeper Agent at the El Rey Theatre

Share this post

Fresh off their first Coachella, Sleeper Agent decided to stick around and nudge themselves in-between The Dig and Ben Kweller at the El Rey Theatre to perform (almost) every song from their 2011 debut album – Celabrasion.

The first thing about Sleeper Agent that you notice is – holy shit, the drummer has been working out.

I’m a little worried about Sleeper Agent, because drummer Justin Wilson is eating all their food. When craft-services places a fresh gazelle corpse on a white linen cloth atop a fold-out table for the band to share, Wilson gets there first. I can only imagine he assumes a Maori battle stance and begins the haka – scaring off other bandmates.

Perhaps it’s just because the other guys (and girl) in the band are so skinny—and it doesn’t seem as apparent in photographs— but the guy is in the bulking phase of his cycle. I just don’t want the ascent of Sleeper Agent to have an asterisk beside it in the record books due to performance enhancers.

On to the set. Here’s what they played:

“Love Blood” – The second thing you notice about Sleeper Agent is they pack a lot more punch live than they do on their album. The flow of “Love Blood” was a lot heavier than I expected. Giggle.

“Force a Smile” – Also the drummer’s philosophy when doing Super Squats, the band moves to heavier stuff here. The Spartan stage setup meant that most of the movement during the set was follicular. The hair started flying on this track and did not let up for the rest of the show.

Sleeper Agent has impressive hair. Arranged by hairstyle from a dash of water to a comprehensive suite of volumizing products, the members of the band are:

Tony – Justin – Alex – Lee – Josh – Scott

Tony writes the songs, Justin works on his core, Alex doesn’t have a penis, Lee slaps the bass, Josh looks a little like the Entourage guy and Scott looks like the survivor of an electrical fire. They seem like an awesome bunch to party with or to find out who is haunting the old abandoned amusement park.

“Bottomed Out” – A fun, ay-ay-ay, song with a lot of end rhyme, and probably the best utilization of the back and forth vocals between Tony and Alex.

“Proper Taste” – A song Julia Stiles would throw away pictures of Heath Ledger to. The band hits a groove with some mid-90s Veruca Salt (maybe with a hint of Letters to Cleo) notes here. I say that as a huge compliment.

“Shuga Cane” – I am not cool enough to know what this song is about. My first guess is recreational cutting. My second guess is labor contract disputes in the confectionary industry.

Running low on carbs, the drummer eats two and a half drumsticks. Two straight, one licked first and dumped into a tub of whey protein like Fun Dip.

“VCR (The XX)” – When Kentucky rock meets the sensible British restraint of the XX, you get… kind of a Pulp-esque anthem with a building guitar crescendo that (intentionally) never quite tops off.  I don’t know, I was hearing “Like a Friend” in the chorus.

“Get It Daddy” – Can we please get this song to play after the Chicago Blackhawks score goals? It’s what The Fratellis would sound like if they were good.

Alex takes a second to knock L.A. – “Are you an L.A. crowd? You guys are fun!” The crowd was surprisingly… normal. The lack of skinny jeans allowed for more lateral movement and better dancing.

“Some White Blinds” – A slow banger. Drummer Justin Wilson spends a moment to reflect on what is best in life, agreeing that it is to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

“That’s My Baby­” – Any Southern band must pay tribute to CCR at some point, obliged by this “Have You Seen The Rain”-y ballad. The gentle swaying provided the opportunity for the anti-humidity factor in the volumizing products to re-set.

Plug-time: Sleeper Agent has been out for 40(ish) shows and has five more. Then they take a few hours off and start touring again.

Feud-time: The drummer rips off his T-shirt and challenges the Ultimate Warrior to five minutes in the steel cage at Summerslam.

“Get Burned” – The band’s Strokes impression – just your standard romper about a midnight tea party in the middle of the woods that’s interrupted by bunny arson (watch the video).

“Far and Wide” – Now drumming solely with his pecs, the drummer is free to check his phone. It’s Lemmy from Motorhead, again. “I can’t talk now, stop texting me.”  Another buzz. “We’re just looking to take MH to the next level… something a bit, harder, LOL.” The drummer turns off his phone.

“Be My Monster” – A good way to end things. A back and forth argument over who gets to be the monster, followed by a fun jam at the end.

The lone song of Celabrasion to get left out – “All Wave And No Goodbye.”  Because it’s full of feelings.

Overall impression – a really fun show. See them before they’re featured on a Zune commercial.

After the performance, the drummer smiled, knowing that he solved the riddle of steel, and can now kneel before Crom.

Leave a comment!