The double bill of former Cibo Matto frontwoman Miho Hatori and Los Angeles’ power poppers Los Abandoned was a study in contrasts. While both acts are adept at mixing cultures and languages, Hatori’s cross-border electro-pop is sleekly cosmopolitan and cool, while Los Abandoned’s songs — filled with a youthful, frenetic energy — feel like the product of the San Fernando Valley’s modern melting pot. The headlining Hatori has been performing for more than a decade; Los Abandoned is touring in support of its Vapor/Sanctuary debut, “Mix Tape.” On this night, youth trumped experience.
It’s not so much a matter of music but presentation. Taken individually, Hatori’s songs are impressive. Her solo debut “Ecdysis” (Rykodisc), moves further into the Brazilian sounds she first explored with guitarist Smokey Hormel. On stage, the rhythm section (often augmented by computer-triggered percussion or bass tracks), plays a stiffer, more emphatic samba or bossa nova groove, while Shoko Nagai uses her keyboard to throw musical curveballs, mussing up the beats with touches of art rock pomp, avant noise or Balinese gamelan.
Hatori adds her feathery vocals, matter of factly crooning her often surreal lyrics. Dreamy, lighter than air confections such as “The Spirit of Juliet” and “A Song for Kids” entice and disorient like a sugar-coated narcotic. She also introduced a few new songs. Both “Misinformation,” inspired by David Byrne’s Imelda Marcos song cycle, “Here Lies Love,” and the sci-fi tale “Moving Well” intrigued, the latter’s clattering rhythms reminiscent of Cibo Matto.
But Hatori appeared distracted, at one point she introduced the song the band had just played, at another she ran off stage to get a lyric sheet. The long pauses between songs and the set’s pacing never allowed the aud to get a firm handle on the music, making the 50-minute set feel even shorter and anticlimactic.
Los Abandoned simply charmed. Its modern-day power-pop doesn’t stray far from its source, but the band is savvy enough to make sure the best of them are joyously hooky — the fist-pumping “No’s” in “Stalk U,” the rush of images and a melody that rushes to beat the yellow light in the cheeky travelogue “Van Nuys (Es Very Nice),” and the Brill Building Romeo and Juliet romance of “Office Xmas Party.”
Lady P is a bundle of energy on state, unselfconsciously stomping her feet and flailing her arms, alternating between a snotty wail and an innocent coo, sounding like a West Coast Debbie Harry. The others in the band match her step for step; if they sometime trip over themselves in their excitement, it’s thrilling to see a band starting to come into its own.