The L.A. rock trio grew up but didn't forget how to have fun
together PANGEA was born at a party. The California-based rock trio is known for its raucous live sets stemming back to art school days playing campus debauches. The scene was a natural fit for the developing band, says bassist Danny Bengston, but with a new, more mature record and a headlining tour of its own, together PANGEA has grown up — if only a little bit. The celebration stops at Circle Bar on Thursday.
"We are the party now," Bengston says. "People are coming to see us, not just for the party." But the endless ragers were integral to together PANGEA's formation. Its sound still has that drink-til-you-can't rock 'n' roll spirit, though the party wasn't where the group's mind was for newest record Badillac, released in January. A couple of thwarted romances contributed to the band's effort to hone its writing skills for the followup to 2011 album Living Dummy, and playing shows for fans instead of drunken college kids changed the group's music-making perspective. "Back on the last album, we we writing songs expecting to play them to, at most a hundred kids in a party in a backyard," he says. "We were catering to the party a little bit."
The change in attitude pays off on Badillac. It's influences aren't hidden, with Nirvana's MTV Unplugged session as inspiration. It's a no-frills approach to rock, yet together PANGEA is never thrust into a corner by derivativeness. There's enough to take attention off the influences and the party, allowing for the raw human side to stand out. The thrashing, the reverb, the chaos is more potent for its accompanying expressions of self-deprecation, heartbreak and existential apathy.
More maturity doesn't make it boring, though, and that's Badillac's greatest achievement. Live shows can still be brutal, with injuries often reported among a usually youthful crowd. The band is also used to and fine with playing shows to empty clubs — Bengston adds it's still something expected on the upcoming tour. But playing to a packed house has become the norm in some ways, with sold-out headlining shows already under together PANGEA's belt. A sweaty, raucous set still feels like the perfect place for the trio, Bengston says, and he laughs about a recent show where he smashed his bass for the first time, joining the ranks of rock clichés. "It's an in the moment thing. You get this crazy energy." He's quick to clarify that any change in maturity doesn't mean the party has ended — now, together PANGEA owns it.