Automatic at The Fonda Theatre

December 12th, 2023 – The Fonda Theatre

There’s always been something intriguing about bands of three. Acts like Nirvana, the Beastie Boys and The Police are the first to come to mind — with the more contemporary trios like Paramore or Boygenius coming in as a close second. As one of the three typically sits behind a drum kit and the others carry various sets of strings, there is something not only visually pleasing within this structure but something sonically. It is not that these groups’ sounds are simplistic or that their presence lacks a pair of hands, but this infamous formation of three often provides a more refined and focused listening experience.

Over time, as music lovers grow a certain fondness over the Kurt Cobains, Stings and Hayley Williams of each group, there seems to be a finite window where each member has something to prove. Sometimes we end up with the Dave Grohls and the Travis Barkers, but they aren’t as common as the Beyonces. They always say good things come in three — but how long until that three becomes a solo act?

As the winter chill begins to breeze through the eternally sunny city of Los Angeles, Automatic gets ready to perform in their hometown. Comprised of Izzy Glaudini on synths, Lola Dompé on drums and Halle Saxon on bass, the band of three brings an awakened sense of nostalgia to The Fonda’s stage. With a name inspired by The Go-Gos themselves, it was no surprise the band would attempt to reclaim the sound of an 80s synth in their own style. Following the release of their second studio album “Excess,” this gig was the second to last show ending their “And I Can Still Remember Dancing” tour.

Photo by Carissa Leong (@carissalphoto.cr2)

According to their site, “Excess” pays tribute to the themes of “alienation and escapism” within the context of the cultural touchpoints of the 70s and 80s. As the lights dim and sporadic cheers become one, all eyes focus in on the three silhouettes. It was almost immediate — a sense of escapism took hold of the room in front of my very eyes. Simply by playing the first notes of their opening song, the tone for the evening has been set. Their signature punchy bass line and quick tempo took hold of the crowd — turning the tiled floor into a space that welcomed headbangers and provided an avenue for the audience to engage as they pleased. The mixture of the flashing colorful lights and the persistent beat created an endless outpour of energy felt on both ends of the performance. As they plowed through their set list, their optimal blend of post-punk vocals and the sounds of 80s new wave led me further and further into a trancelike state, allowing me to deeply enjoy their take on the popularized noises of the past.

Photos by Carissa Leong (@carissalphoto.cr2)

To be entirely honest, I went in with the idea that one member would stand out amongst the rest — holding true to the history of trios. Yet, when I found myself paying close attention to each member, it was hard to truly focus on one without acknowledging the others. In between the moments focused on Glaudini’s synth skills, Dompé’s sheer power of percussion and the steadfastness of Saxon’s bass, it was clear there was no standout member. Literally and figuratively, they stand side by side: a true testament to their unified artistry.

With a touch of modern-day innovation, Automatic’s sound proves to successfully pay homage to the past in their own way. As the three musicians stand hand in hand in front of a pleased crowd, it’s hard not to leave one of their shows with a newfound admiration for not only their entrancing sound, but for their ability to perform as one.