Archive Page 2

17
Apr
12

J Devil Spins A Top The Cahuenga Corridor At Dim Mak Studios

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Let ‘s saunter down memory lane for a little history of the Cahuenga corridor as I move to my story of J. Devil‘s DJ set and KoЯn’s The Path To Totality listening party. My mind glides to the dark part on Ivar where an old brick warehouse, now known at Space 15 Twenty, was used by Taime Downe of Faster Pussycat and Ricky Rachtman, both put together this badass party full of Rockers and Scensters of the period, that included Motley Crew and members of the Pandoras. In a secret room the members of the Crew were sticking to the Porn Stars while those on the outside sucked down booze from the bar. I remember stealing a bottle of Tequila, I was essentially caught, but I owned it and walked away with the spirit of giving bouncing around in my head. The Tequila proved a little strong for me after a recent incident where Tex of Tex and the Horseheads challenged or taunted me into downing a fifth of “Takillya” leading to me vomiting and passing out on the floor of my Hollywood apartment. In the course of the night’s events I ran into Melanie Vammen of the Pandoras and passed it on to her, much to her glee! You could say that’s my first blurry night in the Cahuenga corridor. At this time and for many years to come the Cahuenga corridor was a dangerous drug soaked area with potential crime at every corner. Making it perfect for an underground music scene to flourish!

Upon my return to Los Angeles in the nineties I found myself once more in this uneasy neighborhood on Cosmo, Ivar and Cahuenga. I believe at the time Josh and Solomon were calling their club Gas Light and then the Opium Den. Many a night had gone well but on this one occasion outside Gas Light these girls pissed off this trucker with some red neck comments. He then threatened to shoot us. He went to the cab of his Simi-truck to fetch his gun. In no time he was brandishing it with his own insult towards us. He was easily in our view, gun swinging, near the front of the truck. I advised all in attendance to move on. That was my last night there for some time to come. I didn’t visit the area for another 5 years. By this time Cosmo had expanded and the neighborhood generally safer. That night Perry Farrel was doing a solo performance in the grand room behind Cosmo or the front that was exposed to Ivar that is now known as The Ivar. This night the freaks were out! I had my Moroccan henna tatoo I had picked up in Venice Beach the day before still dwelling on my arm. A true sign of the times. As I stood in the crowd waiting for Perry to hit the stage this woman passed me. It was a tight squeeze. This woman made a point to run her hand firmly across my chest, cruising my nipples. When she was in direct contact with me, face to face, she made a number of lude sexually charged comments to me, while allowing me feel every inch of her body, as she slowly squeezed by. Funny, I was in love with a Texas girl, named Julie, who introduced me to KoЯn while I lived in Dallas. The KoЯn show was in late 94 in Deep Ellum. I called her this night in 97 after Perry’s show because she loved Jane’s Addiction. We used to hold hands and sing “Jane Says”, walking in the cool evenings on the streets of Deep Ellum. So this woman’s pass at me was more irritating than satisfying at the time. Although, it registered on my perv meter strongly as pretty pervy.

Other events that occurred at the Cosmo would have been the time this guy was hitting on Linda Perry, next to me, as we huddled close together in a conversation on the stair steps, ha! In the course of our conversation he offered to us both some lines in the bathroom from his bindle of coke. That was a high moment of hilarity! Linda is gay and sober. I was sober at the too. Another time I saw Bernie Taupin‘s Farm Dogs. This time Solomon Mansoor of Zen Cowboy opened for Bernie Taupin. That was a special night because I hadn’t seen Solly in tens years. It was such an amazing pleasure to have seen him after all those year from the old Shake Shack and Dirt Box days. It was like a family reunion. Zen Cowboy rocked the house too! I was in too much awe of Bernie Taupin to speak to him, a hero of my youth, but I so wanted to say something. It was a marvelous night. There was the time I saw Harry The Dog with Tequila Mockingbird and John X Volaitis (sound engineer for Marilyn Manson) with my friend Irene Liberatore of The Puppies. I was a big fan of the draggon ice sculpture slide that delivered shots of ice cold Jaggermeister sliding directly into my mouth. Then there was the time I was with my posse of Patrick Mata, Sherry, The Slutters of Retail Slut and Roz Williams of Christian Death celebrating Michael Stewart’s release party of a compilation of Bowie covers songs by local Goth Bands. Kommunity FK was one of the bands who covered Bowie‘s “Panic In Detroit“. The back story on the recording had Kommunity FK, Patrick, Sherry, Roy and then myself (I’m not in the band. I’m a band-aid) soaking up 40′s at The Sound Factory and putting on the finishing touches on KFK’s version of Panic In Detroit. I’m on the clap track. The only recording I’ve ever been on with international distribution. Michael Stewart through a slamming party for that CD release with the KFK cover. Nuttiness reigned throughout that night. Before it was all over at Cosmo, someone had been hit on the head with a full bottle of beer, while I ended up on my knees in front of a pay phone in the hall way surrendering to my temporary, yet very demanding, dominatrix. Snaps that was a crazy one at Cosmo that night. Sadly, with in the month Roz Williams of Christian Death committed suicide. Sometime there’s a cost to burning brightly.

The next move came to the Cahuenga corridor when Cinespace and Starshoes dominated the area. Kimberly Browning was Artist In Residence at Cinespace with her Hollywood Shorts program to Cinespace. Stepphen Hauptfuhr was revving up the heat at Star Shoes solidifying what is now known as the Hipster movement. Those were drunky days for me indeed. Lots of open bars and skirt chasen as the area became hipper and safer.

Rounding the corner to this new decade on the Cahuenga corridor, soon after my return from 2012 SXSW, I received a generous invite from Alexandra for a special event at Dim Mak Studios located pretty much where Cinaspace was in dominance in another time. The night was put together by Cornerstone Entertainment and Dim Mak, as listening party for KoЯn’s The Path To Totality. This brought back memories of seeing KoЯn from Deep Ellum many years before in Dallas. Julie was the one who connected me to this show. Julie was more into Metal than I, but I do love me some brunette bobs and quirky ex-Catholic bi girlies. I can’t helps myselfs! Julie filled that bill! It was around the time of KoЯn’s first release. I didn’t know it but I was witnessing the beginning of Nu Metal. There was a lot of buzz around KoЯn then.They were more raw than polished but their show had all the earmarks of a solid band that was on their way. Their fan base was motivated and dedicated as they shook the walls of this small Deep Ellum club and my hearing suffered because of it. I arrived late for the listening party but early for J Devil’s DJ set. I met the 2 Katherines from Cornerstone Entertainment who were generous and gave me The Path To Totality CD. The DJ was spinning in the back room if you entered from Cosmo or the back room if you entered from Hollywood Blvd. In attendance was Mickey Avalon and Randy Mathias of London After Midnight. I drifted after my orignal sizing up of the room to the back area leading to the area of red velvet lounging sofas. I had a brief chit-chat with Alexandra then rested in the mid area watching a young band play Juke Joint inspired Hipster tunes. Then the witching hour rumbled forth as the Dubstep pounded or exploded against the walls and formidably shook the floors of Dim Mak Studios. The introduction was made and J Devil was in the HOUSE! J Devil had a stage presence that appeared to be channeling Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon with his maniacal stance, arms splaid lifted above his head (as if he was in mid cackle) or that of Dr. Morbius studied glare of deep concentration when he was in DJ mode on the wheels of steel. J Devil was mercurial to say the least, as he drove the crowd to a frenzy hitting the mic invoking all to dance or when he was giving a shout out to Steve Aoki. He kept it live! When he wasn’t lighting the turntables (aka Mac Book Pro) on fire from behind, he would charge to the front with the mic in hand keeping the action going and engaging the fans. A pit broke out during a particularly heavy part of the set, endangering me and my camera. It was a hot and sweaty freak zone for all involved. For over an hour as J Devil delivered. You could hear the influences of Skrillex, Excision and Downlink as he worked the Dubstep synthesis of Rock, Hip Hop and Punk. Rolling into 1:30 J Devil was winding things down and sending out the love before he exited the stage. Soon J Devil was passing by me to the back area with the red velvet lounges. Of course, I drifted back to get a few more shots as the evening was ending.  Everyone was cool from Dim Mak and his management. I waited while the man caught a breather after a rigorous set. He removed his J Devil contacts and then cleaned of his J Devil teeth. Taking him from dark musical force to Jonathan Davis singer of  KoЯn. Soon we exchanged pleasantries and he gave me a few moments of his time to pose for photos invoking the Illuminati to keep it witchy after serving some pretty crunchy grooves at Dim Mak Studios. It was a night well spent.

28
Mar
12

Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at the Continental Club: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I found myself for the first time in days able to take the morning on a slow start path. My host Mike was up and was kind enough to make coffee for us both. He had hooked me up with a great place to stay and inadvertently introduced me to new friends. We finally had time to get to know one another. Of course we related to one another how crazy Southby is and each of us recounted stories as it related to the previous weeks events. We stumbled upon the topics of Rhett Miller. Mike is a fan and a friend. We concurrently experienced The Old 97′s during the 90′s in Dallas. He remembered and recounted things I had long forgotten as he elaborated on Rhett’s career and talent to me. I could only endorse his sentiments with occasional flurries of my own observation of that time in Dallas. There was a part of me that wished we’d had this conversation 2 days earlier but it was such a good feeling to have this connection right then and there as we traded stories in his living room. It appears that Rhett played his last Austin-ish gig in Willie Nelson‘s cowboy town 40 miles outside Austin. That show would have been a sweet ride! Mike was totally cool and it was really nice to get to visit during the decompression part of SXSW.

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My next move was more exploration. I had Mexican food on my mind. It was the return to the taco theme I had earlier in the week. I cruised South Congress diverting to South 1st Street on a deeper level of exploration to happen upon El Tacorrido. The only Taco joint I know of that has 2 drive thrus. I was smitten! I wanted to use the drive thru but after a bit of a wait and a keen desire to hook up, I settled for the walk up solution. The menu was slightly different form most Tex-Mex feeds and that really drove my curiosity. I ordered a gordito and a breakfast taco. I explained it to my friend Jonas like this: “This taco stand is really different for Mexican food in Texas. I can’t say it’s truly Tex-Mex. I’m having difficulty pin pointing exactly the style but it’s more south and inland. Or in other words it’s not the kind of food you find on the border or made for American taste buds.” I was completely satisfied when I headed over to Bouldin Creek for my morning coffee. I spent a few hours organizing photos on my computer as a way to bide my time before the big send off show.

Soon the hour was upon us and I headed over to pick Karen up and to share a little pre-celebratory happy hour at her hotel. I have to say, I was a bit antsy now knowing how both Mike Mills and Peter Buck were showing for tonight’s performance at The Continental Club. I count myself extremely fortunate that the first year I attended SXSW I was made aware and got to experience Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at The Continental Club. I have Karen to thank for that! It’s a cozy environment and the place is ran well. Now it’s an irresistible tradition. It’s such a great way to say farewell to Austin and SXSW. As we rolled up Alejandro was outside visiting with folks. He’s very approachable and a nice guy. It was nice to be inside The Continental Club where Karen and I turned into fans. Miss Melvis was playing. We enjoyed the show but we considered another Happy Hour moment was in order out at my car. We scored the cups at Zen next door and we were on our way. You could hear the sound of clunking paper cups and a toast if you were close or maybe, just inside the red Ford Focus. It was a nice bottle of red wine. Usually, I’m not so inclined to drink red wine but this was pretty good stuff. We then joyfully returned to the club locked in for the rest of the night.

By the time we returned Jesse Malin of D Generation had taken the stage and was entertaining everyone. I continued my Happy Hour on a little longer by drifting to the back bar that I favor the most. I bumped in to Lenny Kaye as the star-studded event bubbled with a who who’s in the back. Again I moved up front I staked my place near the front when the young musical team called Ghost Wolves started a short and energetic set. Konya on drums/vox and Carley on guitar. They started out their set on each other’s instruments and then flipped after the first song. Karen wasn’t feeling it, but I was kind of feeling it. It was like Loretta Lynn singing for the White Strips. By this time Kimiko had join us. It was good to see her. She’s got a cool way about her. She was representing Rosie Flores who would play later that night. This was her reason to be at The Continental Club on this fine evening. She smartly drifted to the back to await for Rosie appearance. Karen and I were up front when Garland Jeffreys took the stage: I mean he took the stage hostage! This man knows what he’s doing! Photo op after photo-op. I’m not familiar with the man’s material but was I was surprised how much his music sound like early to mid Rolling Stones. He did a riveting version of “? and the Mysterian” 96 Tears. He was one of highlight of the evening: a ball of energy and passion. I drifted to the back as did Karen, eventually, where we sat near the threshold of the door. It was time to cool off from the hot and tightening room. Tommy Stinson was taking the stage, I guess, just fresh from the G&R’s tour. I was drinking beer in the back again. I managed to come up for Barfirld (The Tyrant Of Texas Funk). The brother was funky with ranch fresh Cowboy look. He kept it funky and showed us his James Brown dance, except no leg splits. It was good stuff: comedic and entertaining. Damn good drinking music. So I headed back and drank again. At this point Karen spotted David Fricke, I saw him too, from Rolling Stone at the back door. Before long Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club and The Cramps) would attach himself to the stage and I was all over that! I’ve been wanting to see Kid Congo for years and tonight it would be consummated. How romantical! Kid Congo spread his freak flag far and wide in the Continental Club as I squeezed to the front to catch his much of anticipated act. The former Cramps alumni kept us all completely entertained. He refered to Lux Interior, no, not Nick Cave, at one point when he said there was visionary who told me, “One day Kid you will have your own band and you’ll call it Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds”. I think his time in the Cramps were well spent because he kept us engaged in much of the same way the Cramps would have had they been there. After Kid Congo left the stage was about the time the lock down happened: no ins or outs! There was some speculation Bruce Springsteen would appear. I now believe it was for Mike Mills and Peter Buck. I headed to the back where I had to say hi to Kid Cango and take a few photos. I mentioned to him that Lux had jumped a couple of rows of people one time at the Spirit Club in San Diego and had tongued me. Then I told him that after that people thought I was pretty cool. That made him laugh. Then when I tweeted it, I found later, he had re-tweeted it on Twitter. I was honored he’d bother to do it and it made me laugh too. Then a little later I spotted Rosie and asked her for a photo or two. Once again I drifted to nostalgia. Rosie was at one time very much part of the LA Rock scene. She was one of the main forces in the Screamin’ Sirens. I know I’ve seen them perform. I think if was at Janice DeSoto’s club or maybe Cat House. But what was on my mind at that moment was the Hollywood Hillbillies. The band had a chicken in it. I loved it at the time. I mentioned Hollywood Hilllbillies to Rosie. Her response to me was she was in that band early on, for 3 weeks. I hadn’t remembered she was in the band. Then she qualified it by saying, “I was in the band before the chicken”. She knew about the chicken! That was a great moment. Only someone in the scene would know that! I chuckled. We finished and I decided to hang towards the back in stalker fashion. I was thinking when Mike and Peter enter I’d spot ‘em. At this point we’d entered the home stretch where Alejandro and the Sensitive Boys played till they closed the place down. It’s always one of the best parts of the whole proceedings. I had seen Lenny Kaye learning the word to a song while leaning up against a car. I know because I ask him. I thought he’d gotten a ticket and he informed me other wise. It must have been one of Neil Young songs because he performed an engaging version “Like a Hurricane”. I found myself singing along to “Like a Hurricane”. Then Rosie Flores was announced and join the fun up on the stage. Rosie sang, “If I Could Only Be With You” and then followed it up with a duet with Alejandro with a her and Dave Alvin wrote together called, “Goodbye Again”. The crowd was enthusiastic and riveted. In this time some how, some way, both Mike and Peter got past me. Strangely, Mike Mills started doing this hula move during the cover of a The Troggs “Love Is All Around”. Peter Buck was channeling Michael Stipe hiding in the back corner when Mike Mills strapped on his bass to lead us in a sing-a-long of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” I had waited all night for this moment and was pleased I’d made it. As quickly as they had arrived they departed. I pushed through the crowd to catch them, but poof, they were gone, gone, gone! Sniff! Alejandro finished the set with Waco Brothers member Jon Langford for a rousing version of The Clash‘s “Rock The Casbah”. Karen found me and indicated it was a good to leave. I agreed. It was a long week followed by a long day capped off by many amazing performances. It was now time to take the gold home and prepare for long travel day before us both. Here’s to next year: a bigger better SXSW and going for more Hipster Olympic gold!

27
Mar
12

SXSW: Saturday, Rollin Deep and On The Downlow!

I was up earlier because I felt I needed to get more done. Once again, I nested at Bouldin Creek and doodled on my computer, writing my first SXSW blog: SXSW: Tidbits To Tie You Over. I knew that Karen had another busy afternoon putting together the SXSW Tribute to Soul Train hosted by Don’s son Tony Cornelius and NPR’s Dan Charnas with a Q&A to follow. The event included great archival footage, stories & anecdotes of the legendary Host Don Cornelius. I could tell from Karen’s text that she was back on track now she’d had enough rest. The plan was for me to wait at the W at the Nylon party till the Soul Train Tribute had run its course. I knew that this was an important event for a lot of folks. I remember the music and the performances my brother and I would enjoy as teenagers watching Soul Trian. It familiarized us with Black/Afro-American culture in a way we couldn’t receive anywhere else at that time. It expanded my ideas of music and blew my teenage mind to witness all those amazing dance moves. It was an amazing counter-culture experience as compared to American Bandstand, which was my first experience with Pop music from the medium of Television. Soul Train personified the anything goes late 60′s and 70′s in a way few programs did at the time. Don Cornelius allowed it to be a forum of free expression that drove Pop Culture. I was a big Elton John fan and Elton’s performance of Bennie and the Jets was staggering in my youthful eyes. I got to see David Bowie do Golden Years on Soul Train. Yet another mind bending experience. There was The Temptation, The Spinners, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Billy Preston, Ohio Players, Dazz Band among many, many others I experienced through the program. My friend Josh got to go to the first Soul Train awards and many of the proceeding ones from that time on. Soul Train provided me with a foundation that opened me up to other legendary performers like Michael Jackson, Cameo, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Grace Jones and Rick James. Rick James being one of my greatest heroes with the Punk Funk!

Form Bouldin Creek I found parking next to Republic Square Park. Again, the powerful parking god found favor for me. I sauntered through the Austin Farmers Market as it was closing down. It was nice to walk through the park and see something that was part of the city’s regular rhythm. I had time and I could take the circuitous route to the W if I wished. Before I settled in to the W I stumbled upon The Ginger Man. Peggy Ellithorpe and the RVIP crowd had beers there earlier in the week and I was curious. It’s a damn nice pub! It’s the closest thing to San Francisco’s Toronado in Austin. I walked inside, where it was dark and cool. It was warm outside so this was a relief. The Blurt Magazine and Dog Fish Head IPA party was in full tilt with Milagres half way through their set in the out-door patio area. I remained inside because I’m a vampire. The band played on as I ordered a pint of a mild IPA and dug the vibe of the place. It’s a place you can get to know people and maybe start friendships. It’s cozy and the pint prices are reasonable. Still I felt the W calling me.

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Once at the W Nylon Party I awaited Karen’s text for her arrival. Okay, so I’m pool side lounging on woven chaise lounge looking at others resting and sunning themselves on other woven chaise lounges. Dance music to my side, a bevy of model types to my right representing Nylon and Guess, while I’m gazing at a well designed pool area with a fascinating glass facade that reaches to the sky. Everything was sun drenched while I was cooling it in the shade. I considered the model types good eye candy but they’re too skinny and potentially vapid to interact with or pursue. I lounged there, people watching, indulging in my much-needed rest. I got a text from Karen letting me know that the Soul Train event was running long. She was being thoughtful and considering I might be getting restless or bored. She was unaware of the stress free bliss that I was experiencing while recharging my batteries at the W. Karen was involved in an important process that should take as much time as needed for people to honor Soul Train and Don’s legacy. Everyone there was wanting to have closure and say goodbye to a man who carved out a little piece of history for everyone. It would be selfish of me to ask for it to turn out any other way. Waiting wasn’t difficult at all. It was an honor for me to wait while people said there goodbyes and honored Don’s memory. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Near 4pm I got the heads up! Karen walked up to me in my bliss daze and shook me out of my W Roof Top Pool fantasy land letting me we know we were on the move. Wow, energy was returning to my idle mind. I scooped up a few more photos of the luxury in my kin before I descended into the labyrinth of the W. We played text tag for about 15 minutes when the word came they were all down at Trace restaurant’s patio. I arrived to see all relaxed setting round the table. It was nice to see Erin and Vince again. Much to my surprise Tony Cornelius had join us all after the Soul Train tribute. I locked into my seat and immediately the conversation turned to Jack White’s solo performance the night before. The Black Bells played and Jack had played with a male and a female band: 2 separate bands! Word had it that BP Fallon was consumed and totally Rockin out for the whole show. Erin and Vince were mesmerized by Jack White’s show. We all riffed on what we knew and what we’d seen of Third Man Record’s vertical approach to marketing. I spoke of The Dead Weather‘s free performance and the adjacent Third Man Record Pop Up Store. I was so amazed when I saw people walking out of the store with rare vinyl, special editions and other merch that more than compensated the band for their show. Erin was amazed by the Third Man Record Pop Store he’d seen the night before at The Stage On Sixth Street. The whole package was stunningly brilliant. The idea being bounced around by all of us with our conclusion being that Jack White is an effin genius! Vince referenced Jack White’s commitment to music by bringing up the documentary It Might Get Loud. Vince had to coax me a bit to bring the memory back I had from that documentary. It hit me and then I responded about the scene where Jack was playing this old Lp by Son House “Grinnin In Your Face” which is Jack White’s favorite song. This drove home the point of the power and purity of performance. Vince started referencing all the music that had come from Inglewood Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, tieing it in to what Soul Train had achieved. Soul Train had been connected and influential in projecting and representing Inglewood’s talent that had been spawned there by mainstreaming that community’s range of talent into national prominence. Vince named off some 15 or so groups hailing from Inglewood. I can only remember the Chi-Lites and Kanye West. Tony chimed in agreement. Watching and participating in all of this made realize why they were so curious and innovative in re-inventing Miles catalog. I remember the release of Miles In India, how smart it was as a concept and how cool it sounded. I also remember my reading on Miles in the eighties. Of all the Jazz musicians I listen to I respected his music and his ideas toward to music the most. I loved his persona and attitude towards making music. Listening to Vince and Erin I can see how he infused his ideas into both of them. They’re thoughtful and insightful guys. It was such a pleasure being around that kind of energy. My world was getting rocked!

Somewhere in all of this social heat being generated Kimiko Tokita join us, who is an Austin based marketer and publicist, whose company is called White Crowe. As things began to settle out Kimiko and I had a conversation revolving around entertainment. Kimiko handles David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez and Rosie Flores. I have interest in this because they were all part of the LA Punk scene now living the sweet life in Austin. I also dated Antoinette, a cousin of one of the members of Los Lobos. I feel slightly related. Then out of the blue Tommy Lee and his entourage popped through door to sit close to where we were at on the patio. Karen dropped by to say hi, since she’d worked with Motley Crew in 96′. Tony and I had a very interesting conversation on what contemporary ment. Of course the food had arrived and everyone was snacking while we all to continue to banter about various subjects. Soon to follow was Frankie Banali and Regina Russel. Bringing the Quiet Riot vibe to the patio. Austin can be a small town! It was all so cool and relaxed that more than 2 hours had passed with little effort. The plan now was to roll to the Puma party house. Kimiko was our driver as we all loaded in to the black Navigator. What a great group to go on a gifting adventure. We arrived at the Puma Social House party. For me this was great fun. There was an open a bar and free Puma T-shirt give-away.  We drank and played while the DJ played one the most sexually charged Hip-Hop songs I’ve ever heard. So much so that the lyric became so profoundly explicit that the record got pulled form the turntable with a bump and a scratch. Then this “Smart-Ass” DJ, I like to call him the Smart-Ass DJ, introduce himself, as if we cared, and starts singing while jumping from the stage and jumping around on the grass. A there few were dancing and I found myself laughing my ass at the guys antics. It was nice to let go for a while but then we needed to reel it in and we headed back to the W. From there the group broke up. Karen and I carried by heading Rachael Ray’s VIP House Party at the old Big Red Sun space. There we refreshed our drinkies and really visited. There was a band playing when we got there and to save my soul I can’t figure out who they were. We enjoyed our shots and mixed beverages made of Patron’s Coffee liquor while I bemoaned the loss of my phone. Somewhere along the way I had misplaced my phone. I was having phone separation anxiety. No check ins and cruising the web, no nifty FB post. But it was the loss of the phone that was going to make easy things much more difficult. Once we had destroyed this party. We headed back to the W where I thought I had lost it when I ran into the girl I’d met 2 SXSWs ago. She still remembered me after all that time. I passed on my card and I believe at that moment dropped my phone inside the W arm chair. After checking the W’s front desk I was proved right and received my phone, but not promptly. We were back on the streets again. Hunger had hit again. We saw that PF Chang’s was still open and we thought this was a good place to refuel. PF Chang’s was positioned well to hit the Four Season if we were so inclined. The booze was wearing off and the exhaustion was setting in. The guys reach out to let us know that the Four Season wasn’t going to happen. We enjoyed our food and planned for tomorrows adventure at the Continental Club for Alejandro Escovedo and Friends. We both had a full and exciting day. I couldn’t think of a better way to end it with two good friends sharing a meal.

SXSW Flickr Photo Gallery

26
Mar
12

SXSW: Songwriters, Performance and Super Stars

The morning came quickly, as they do for SXSW. I rose to greet my new roomie Robert Singerman at Mike’s place. After both of us did some organizing and necessary clean up Robert and I headed out to downtown Austin proper on different paths for a similar end. He had a BMI breakfast at the Four Seasons, while I would head to Bouldin Creek Cafe to load up on coffee, breakfast and dump my digital mass in my laptop in prep of Fader Fort’s MyMusicRx charity event. On our way to the Four Seasons our conversation turned to music. Imagine that! Robert is working on a number of projects. One, 88TC88.com, brings translated, approved music titles and distributes these songs for sale on mobile carriers with this international music, which is sold with the lyrics embedded in the media in Mandarin underneath, so the Chinese people can understand the lyrics from various languages. The reverse will happen in the future bringing translated Chinese muisc to an International market. He’s directs the Brasil Music Exchange in North America, a Brazilian Trade Office to increase sales of Brazilian music in the US and Canadian market. Then the conversation turned to Lil Wayne. Robert found Lil Wayne preformance had the same kind of energy as Angelo Moore of Fishbone or HR of Bad Brains. I mentioned I’d photographed HR at Sunset Junction a few years back. Robert asked if he was using. I said I didn’t see a glass pipe. HR was working an arabic camo look that night and he was in fine form for the show. Robert encouraged me to drop by the Cutting Edge Music Showcase at The Victory Bar & Grill later that day. Robert is involved with Eric Cager who’s the founder and Director of The Cutting Edge Music Conference. Robert, himself has been involved with bands we all know like: R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, Gypsy Kings, Fela, King Sunny Ade and Smithereens to name a few. This showcase would have an international flavor with an emphasis on NOLA talent. As we rounded the corner on Caesar Chavez that led to the Four Season I agreed to see him later that afternoon to check out the showcase that would prove to be my jumping off point for the days activities.

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I arrived at Bouldin Creek Cafe. Bouldin Creek Cafe is not more that a mile and a half away from the Four Seasons. I came to have coffee in a friendly and cool environment I had discovered through my friend Greg, an Austin native. I soon sent out a text to Karen to see if she was going to be on board for the MyMusicRx brunch at Fader Fort presented by Converse. I was looking forward to the event because it was going to be my first Fader experience. Once I was appropriately jacked up on coffee and finished with my computer activities I, excitedly, scooted over to the MyMusicRx for an open bar brunch. I met Katie, my truly lovely hostess, who was a combination of Nancy Steiner and Dita Demone, two women I adore, who was manning the door and who had put me on the list for MyMusicRx event. About this time I got a text from Karen who had just gotten up and started moving around. She had been up to 4:30am working. She had such a full plate from the previous day she couldn’t possibly make the brunch, but we’d hang out later. I completely understood! MyMusicRx people were smart about presentation at this event. They delivered the Tex-Mex cuisine on nice china and the beverages in the appropriate glasses for our drink of choice. The food was provided by Bon Appetit. The menu consisted of Strube Ranch Barbacoa kolache or the Vital Farm Eggs and Kitchen Pride Mushroom Kolache with a choice of Fiesta Tortias (whole wheat or flour) and either Smoked Hickory Bacon, Vital Farm Eggs and/or Richardson Farms Carnitas. The drinks of choice were Bloody Mary’s or Memosas. I choose the memosas because it make me feel pretty as my strolling beverage and the Strube Ranch Barbacoa Kolache and a Richardson Farms Carnitas with Vital Farm eggs on a whole wheat tortia suited my culinary palate. I repeated the Richardson Farms Carnitas with Vital Farm Eggs on a whole wheat tortia again and had many repeats on the memosas. From there I planted myself near a tall table were I engaged Jorge and a young lady in a toast with our memosas. We continued by making small talk before both bands played. After this I found a comfortable spot in a nice arm chairs where I could take it all in in repose: i.e., shooting photos and videos with ease while in line of the subject matter. All in attendance representing MyMusicRx concern were Rob Stone and Joh Cohen of Fader, Geoff Cottrill of Converse and Regina Ellis of MyMusicRx and Children’s Cancer Association. Rob Stone started off the proceedings by sharing his own story. Rob referencing his own bout with cancer, as a child, brought home the importance of MyMuscRx and Children’s Cancer Association outreach to children suffering with cancer to all there. He tied this in with how music had made a difference in his experience and how he wanted to share music with those suffering and fighting cancer. Regina was next up to explain how MyMusicRx had reached out to over 500,000 kids suffering with chronic illness and cancer out of the 20,000,000 of those currently suffering under those conditions. Regina pointed out how something as simple as purchasing your favorite song from i-Tunes could bring MyMusicRx experience to sick children everywhere. I was impressed by the 500,000 number reached when you take in account how expensive it is to reach out to others in hospitals and communities. I have to say that’s quite an accomplishment! Finally, Jon Cohen wrapped things up nicely by interjecting the importance of people getting involved and acknowledging those who were active in making this happen before he introduced the musical artist LP. From here on out the crowd would mix and would be entertained by both scheduled bands.

LP took the stage, as it were, as a 5 member ensemble. LP is a song writer who had written for such pop artist as Nas, Christina Aguilera, Joe Walsh and Rihanna. At MyMusicRx showcase features a 5 song Ep called, Into The Wild, she’s releasing via Warner Bros. in late April. I picked up her promotional DVD/Ep, while I was there and found it’s rather enjoyable. She pulled up to the mic with electric ukulele is hand, looking like a young Bob Dylan, but she sang with ease and great versatility, while still holding to the singer songwriter tradition. She has a unique and lovely voice. The girl has range! The backing band displayed musicianship I found to be polished, providing a flawless performance for LP. The sound, I guess, wasn’t right because the sound guy kept coming up and getting in the way of the performance, tweaking the sound. It was a solid performance and was perfect for what would be considered early in the day for SXSW. I recorded “Tokyo Sunrise” and I have included it as part of my article so you can discover the music for yourselves. After a short break and a brief introduction Yawn took the stage and introduced us all to their sound. A quick riff on what their sound is like would reference Vampire Weekend or Sigur Ros. This Indie Rock group has opened for the Kooks too. They provided naive sing-a-long harmonies, calypso rhythms in this percussive pop that lightened the room’s mood and made the room flow. They made networking an easy task with their marvelous soundtrack. We all eased in to more drinking and light socializing as the band played on. MyMusicRx brought together a great combination of purpose and music for a wondrous day starter for Friday’s SXSW experience. I went away ready for more fun and looking for more great entertainment.

My next hit was the Front Gate Morning After Party. I was off to South Congress again. Street parking was at a premium yet I found a spot a block and a half away. The party was being held in a parking lot. I negotiated the entrance, passed the stage where J Roddy Walston & the Business were setting up to find the open bar to continue my mamosa bender. Strangely, I wasn’t getting much of a buzz, except from awesome bands I was seeing play. More tacos too as I bellied up to the food line facing the stage. J Roddy Walston & the Business laid down the Bluesy uptempo Rock. While J Roddy Walston & the Business was too straight ahead for my taste the crowd, women closest, were relating strongly and the ladies were very much enthralled. All those boys had beautiful heads of hair: so we had a combination of hair lust/envy from the ladies as J Roddy Walston & the Business collectively waved their freak flag under the partly cloudy afternoon light. They would make a perfect Texas brisket and BBQ party band and I have to say they were! All of this allowed me to focus on my drinking. I focused on it for about an hour before I made my way once again to The Victory Bar & Grill for the Cutting Edge Music event Robert had invited me to. It so happened that my arrival at the Cutting Edge Music event, produced by Eric Cager, was happening in the back stage area I come to know the Day before for Miles Davis House. It was there that Robert spotted me first. He was feeling a little more uptempo from our early morning visit after he had the pleasure of a couple beers, as we all do at SXSW. By this time I was mildly buzzed and full. Robert offered me the Crawfish Monica and we continued to talk music. Robert pointed out that the city of New Orleans was hosting and supplying some of the talent of the event. Drastik (Truth Universal) was owning the stage with his NOLA style rhyme, while we were visiting. He had turned me on to Jerry Lindqvist earlier on our ride to the Four Seasons. Robert was kind enough to introduce me to a bunch of talented musicians that included Tiffany Shea, Ashley Fayth and Nanna Larsen as part of the International Songwriters Tour. He introduce me to Tony Moore who is the songwriter/producer and Zebra-man, who sets up a great singer-songwriter showcase every year in New Orleans, as well as in SXSW and books a great London venue too. I saw Tony play with a young and talented female singer before I headed out. He introduced me to Tiffany Shea first and from that point on she and I continued to talk off and on for as long as we could before they all headed out to their next gig and my slated arrival to see Rhett Miller. I discovered she was a fan of Rhett Miller too. So I decide that it would be a good idea to shoot her and her compatriots too. She was touring with them all and they were also staying with her in Nashville. By the way, this continued the theme of singer song writers started earlier in the day. I went for the fade to catch Rhett and while Robert was really engaged with a couple of folks I simply had to go. I wanted to make Rhett’s gig if at all possible.

The powerful parking gods was and were favoring me throughout my SXSW adventure. Free parking abounded and I locked in a spot 3 blocks from Sixth Street. As I move towards my mission to see Rhett Miller I crossed the second block where there was this long line. I figured that no line would be this long without a reason. So I inquired. I was told it was the Google Parking Lot Stage featuring artist like Jimmy Cliff and The Shins. They were at this moment letting non-badge holders in because the crowds were too thin. Snaps, my plans changed instantly. I love Rhett but I’ve never seen The Shins or Jimmy Cliff. The line was quick too. Before long I was sucking on cheap bad beer and downing energy drinks. Jimmy Cliff had a small ensemble with a drummer, himself and another fellow on guitar. I wasn’t feeling the raga drop or that I was in the midst of Reggae history being made right before my eyes. I’ve met the big boys of Reggae, that is Sly and Robbie many years before and they rang my bell. This was long before Reggae became a retro thing where Rasta bands covered seventies pop songs to make old white men happy. Back then the songs pinned were filled with stories of social change and revolution. So I didn’t expect that part of my soul to be feed on this afternoon. Jimmy Cliff put together a credible and solid set of his tunes. Jimmy closed out his set with Peter Frampton’s Baby I Love Your Way. It was a crowd pleaser. Black Star followed up while I drank more. I didn’t get interested until I heard Jean Grae bump up the rhyme a notch or two. I drifted down near the stage where I ran into Zachary and Alexandra for a catchup session. I decided to see if I could hook up with some Google jello shots down stairs and that path led me to Jennifer Tefft from The Satellite. After that little run in I returned to Zachary and Alexandra where Vince had popped out from backstage after Black Star’s performance. It was great to see him! Vince, Zachary and Alexandra were headed over the Jack White’s solo Third Man Showcase at The Stage On Sixth Street. Oh. how I wanted to go! I did what I could to weasel in but the crowds and badges prevailed. I knew what a treat they were in for, having seen The Dead Weather in August of 2008 at the Regency Theater in DTLA with a Third Man Records Pop Up Record Store. The Dead Weather killed that day and Jack White was about to kill at The Stage for all involved. I stayed and awaited for The Shins domination of the Google stage. James Mercer was first to move toward to the center of the stage and the crowd was at its maximum. The crowd noise raised in approval upon their arrival. I decide to hold a space to center right or to my left to photograph and video. The Shins keep a long and engaging set fill with catalog favorites such as Caring Is Creepy, Know Your Onion!, So Say I and closing with Phantom Limb. On most of the songs the fan sang along knowing the lyric and the tunes. On more than one occasion and previous to this show I’d mention I was going to catch The Shin. People response would nearly spontaneously as they would say: The Shins sounds just like they do on their albums. As if that were negative or a disappointment. Funny, that used to be the criteria used to know if a band was really any good and/or they were musicians. The Shins, surely, are not a jam band. So knowing the musician you’ve come to see have the proficiency and the ability to deliver on their own songs should carry the balance of their performance. The Shins music is held together with dynamic range, artistry and lyrical content that comes closer to poetry than most Pop music. So with this later definition clarifying performance. The Shins delivered, delivered and delivered!

I left the Google stage to head over to Sixth Street to The Stage On Sixth Street so I could be appropriately disappointed by stacked lines and an overcapacity room. I stood there for a while staring from the outside as if I was a member of an Indonesian cargo cult looking longingly, lustfully on a cargo plane. For the most part I’m not a fan of Sixth Street. It’s too crowded and usually not enough good stuff to keep you hanging on. I was hungry and there was a fast and cheap solution, Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza. Death Metal Pizza has a thriving business. Go there for the pizza and stay for the attitude! It’s the only place I’ve eaten at that’s generated Foursquare comments within minutes of my checking in and then a lengthy full-scale text conversation around the topic lasting nearly an hour. Don’t tell me that Death Metal Pizza doesn’t have some crazy witchy thing going on! Of course, I gobbled down the pizza and almost immediately went into a stupor. Sixth street had nothing for me now, as Jack White faded to the back of my brain. I headed to my digital friendly coffee shop Bouldin Creek Cafe. The idea was to recharge. I spent 2 hours there while transforming photos and videos. I left around midnight to see if I might find an easy score on parking for Rhett Miller’s next to last performance. I did a “drive by” by the Cedar Door Court yard and nary a parking spot to be seen. The heaviness of the day had definitely wore me down and with so many exploits already under my belt I wasn’t compelled to try to cash in on this one. Surely, I’ll see Rhett again. As the city descended deeply into some heavy partying I roll north-east to my digs to be reborn on the morrow once again.

SXSW Flickr Photo Gallery

25
Mar
12

SXSW: Bounced in Austin On A Thursday With A Splash Landing Into Miles Davis House

As I sped down the road towards Austin away from Sherman in my rented red Ford Focus. The mile peeled away under the cloudy sky, clouds like white pillows or cotton balls rallied around me, billowing out in all directions under the wide open spaces of Texas: through the greenery of rolling hills of North East Texas, the towers and tangled express ways of Dallas that then gave way to Highway 35 and the arid flat lands of South East Texas that eventually opened to Austin. To say the least it’s a long drive to the largest Interactive/Film/Music convention in the world. The traffic thickened after Waco making it more a challenge to reach my destination in a timely manner. This was my third year at SXSW. Foursquare called me a sophomore, not knowing of my first outing 3 years earlier when I stayed with my gracious host Mary Kate. This year’s event loomed large and rather intimidating for me with over 120 RSVPs locked in and 5 artist I wanted to catch while I was “down in it” in Austin for the weekend.

I was fortunate enough to network through Christine, a social buterfly from Dallas, I had the pleasure to meet while having sushi in Silverlake with Doug and Johnny. We had made contact originally through Facebook. It so happened she popped in on us while she was visiting LA when we dined on tasty Sushi and enjoying multiple sake shots together. She’s a marvelous ball of fire and quite the conversationalist. I was working a number of Austin options that appeared to be on the fade when Christine came through and introduced me to Mike. Mike had opened his home to me for the few days I’d be staying in Austin. I would come to know as time passed and as this story unfold that Mike and I share some similar connections that go back to Dallas a city I lived in for 2 years. I arrived in Austin with all the deets to crash at Mike’s place and set up camp.

I set out from his place to find The Victory Bar & Grill where Karen organized and set up Miles Davis House. I finally deciphered the layout of The Victory Bar & Grill. Among the distractions set before me I decided to head down a long hallway that led into a large back room. It was dark and I immediately saw the stage to the left and booths to the right. I nested in the booths. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before I saw some familiar faces. Earl E. Gibson III (an exceptional photographer) and Erin Davis (Miles son), both came up to say hi and made me feel at home. Soon Karen was in the mix. We visited for a while and Vince Wilburn Jr. came up to give me a big old hug. Vince always puts a smile on your face. It was good to see him. Karen pointed out that Left Over Cuties were playing at the moment. I was amazed how much they had improved from the summer at El Cid and Sunset Junction party. I had arrived late and I had missed the only viable time to catch The Magnetic Fields, a band I yearned to see and the prospects for Fiona Apple were looking grim. While these unsatisfied expectations were on the back burners at the moment I couldn’t resist exploring The Victory Bar & Grill before I headed out. I landed outside where I met 2 young and talented musicians Alexandra Lee of Alexandra and the Starlight Band and Zachary James of Zachary James and the All Seeing Eyes. We all had a great little chit-chat. I got them to pose for a few shots and then Stuart Johnson, the drummer for Left Over Cuties, jumped in to add energy and kookiness. From there on the group shots explored their interpretations of Metal poses with all the gravitas of Rock gods. After all this passion I took the time to shoot a few shots of Vince and Erin outside The Victory Bar & Grill before I jaunted over to see Fiona.

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I left the Victory Bar & Grill to arrive near  the Austin Texas Central Presbyterian Church where a host of showcases were taking place besides Fiona Apple’s. One of the brutal truths of SXSW is if you arrive too late for a show, YOU ARE TOO LATE! No badge, no connections, no begging will lift you through the threshold to magically transport you to the center of the action. I came upon the badge line first. An exceptionally long line to arrive at 10 minutes after 8pm. Fiona was on at 8pm. I knew all was lost. But to make sure I cruised over to the wrist band line to see my hopes utterly dashed upon the steps of that Presbyterian of the church. This was a tough blow, although, I think of Fiona Apple as a nice second to say The Shins or The Magnetic Fields. Having 3 and 1/2 hours sleep under my belt I decided not to squander my flagging energy waiting in a line: a line that I’ll never see the virtue of being inside the sanctuary to see the barefoot chanteuse. I decided to hit South Congress to do something more than snack as I had The Boiling pot earlier on my arrival. I love downtown Austin but I’ve longed over the last few years to get a grip on what South Congress is all about. So I headed to yet another axis of the SXSW experience on South Congress. I wanted tacos! I found a spot near Home Slice Pizza and Güero Taco Bar. Güero’s is always crowded and that’s year after year at this time. As I walked to the corner to cross the street bands were blazing out the Rockin noise at Home Slice with a Boho crowd clustered around the popular pizza joint listening to music and eating copious amounts of pizza. Once across the street and inside Güero’s I found the place full but the bar area was available. After some thought I figured it was in my best interest, time wise. to plug into the bar. I sat next to 2 gentlemen in the middle of their meals and waited to be served. One of them decided to ask me if I were press. I was surprised by the question because I always try to keep that stuff on the down low. Then it dawned on me that I was wearing my Fader Fort Presented by Converse Press wrist. So I admitted I was press. We spoke in between my ordering and eating about his love of Punk Rock. He told me he followed the Ramones like a deadhead would follow The Grateful Dead. His friend to the left of him endorsed the comment and I laughed at the idea. Our conversation continued in-between my bites. The tacos were nice Tex-Mex fare, the red beans were, well, red beans and the Mexican rice was the worst I had ever eaten. So I passed on the rice. The guys bid their adu and the weight of possibly missing Semi-Precious Weapons were taking their toll in my mind on my drive to catch some new exciting bands.

I sped over to The Victory Bar & Grill just in time to catch Semi-Precious Weapons in search and destroy mode. I don’t think I’ve seen more action on stage since Wendy O’Williams of The Plasmatics or Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks. Thankfully, Justin Tranter can’t lactate like Wendy did: although, he played with his nipple while on stage. But the show was amazingly messy. Everyone in the group was jumping , crawling, crashing, playing , singing, spewing liquids as if they were a bunch of crazy monkeys on speed. I said on my Facebook fan page  as a comment they put on a show, show, show! The fans, yes the fans, were  as out of control as the band blew up and played off the crowd. You could honestly say their fans were as much of the show as the band. The fans were giving out the energy and the Semi-Precious Weapons were giving it right back at ‘em! This eclipsed into over 20 minutes of magical mayhem of performance by the group. Later I headed outside. Semi-Precious Weapons geared up for  more photo opportunities with Erin and Vince by Earl. Karen and I had time to catch up as the Semi-Precious Weapons were in interviewed by Beta Records TV. Karen with Erin and Vince’s help put together this ambitious all day event for Mile Davis Estates with a host of new talented acts. All the while interweaving the legacy of artistry and innovation Miles Davis represents and carries on by his son Erin and his nephew Vince with these new breeds of entertainers. Miles Davis House shook The Victory Bar & Grill for a history making SXSW inaugural that sets a great foundation for next year’s blow-up event in Austin. We sat there for a while and talked about the day at hand, when Greg my roomie from last year, pulled up on his bike and joined in the fun. It was nice to see my homeboy after such a long time. Then Karen then had to run. Greg and I had a bromance drinking beers and yakking about all that had happened in the last year. Greg still had party left in him but it was after midnight and the fade was hitting me pretty strongly. I had only three and half hours of sleep and a 6 hour drive under my belt I felt it was time to melt into my digs. In Austin you got grab your sleep while you can when you’re playing in the SXSW Hipster Olympics.

SXSW FlickrPhoto Gallery

17
Mar
12

SXSW: Tidbits To Tie You Over

The excitement of SXSW was palpable as I expectantly waited for it while I was staying with my parents in Oklahoma. I arrived in Austin exhausted and running late because of unforseen events like tight traffic from Waco to Austin, All the elements made me roughly 2 hours late. So for this outing I’m coloring the events briefly as high lights till I can muster for a full-blown report.  The Party got started at The Victory Bar & Grill where Miles Davis Estates through a party to build on the legacy of Miles Davis. Erin and Davis and Vince Wilburn Jr. along with Karen Sundell but together a bunch of talented buzzy and up and coming artist for this event the included  Left Over Cuties, The Furious Few and Semi-Precious Weapons. I cruised between parties and events as I was trying to get m sea legs after landing in Austin. The night went late but not too late!

The next morning I was invited to MyMusicRxevent by Fader Fort. It was a charitable affair with delicious food and an open bar. More on the MyMusicRx event is located in my blog “SXSW: Songwriters, Performance and Super Stars” . I got my drunk on as I networked, listen to 2 marvelous bands: LP from New York and Yawn from Chicago. The Fader Fort and Converse event had the totally good vibes going on as folks talked about the good work being done by MyMusicRx for the Children’s Cancer Association through partnership with i-Tunes. It warmed up the day and me got ready for all the activities that were lined up. I followed this up with the Morning After Party where I continued my gluttony and drinking as some blues Rockers provided the Austin style soundtrack.

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My next stop was to drift by the Victory Grill once again for another showcase of International artist. I thought I was through eating when I was offered some crawfish monica. Robert Singerman turned me on to the party and a bunch of talented musicians that included Tiffany Shea, Ashley Faith and Nanna Larsen. I had a great visit with Tiffany and was surprised she was a fan of Rhett Miller. I so inspired her she decided to go the Rhett’s show on 6th Street. Once I departed the victory Bar & Grill I was on my way to Rhett’s show when I stumbled upon the Google party line that was pen to all. The artist who were playing included Jimmy Cliff and The Shins. I had to decide then and there what my priorities were and that ment hooking up with this show. Because this was the last chance to see The Shins, a band I discovered around 2000, but had never seen.

Once I was upon the 4th floor of this parking garage I could take in the whole city of Austin. What a beautiful and dramatic view. Jimmy Cliff was half way through his set and the crowd was thickening. It was time for more free beers and an energy drinks. I ran into Alexandra and Zackary, two young talents, I met during the Mile Davis House event the day earlier and we chatted. While we were talking, Vince Wilburn Jr. jumped in from backstage while Black Star finished and we all hung for a minute longer before they went off to the Jack White’s showcase. I continued there till The Shins finished their set. The place was packed and the fan were crowding in to catch every moment of this rare experience. The Shins delivered a great and solid set. I finally got to see a band I’d missed for various reason over the years. From there I had asperations to catch Rhett Miller later but I needed to score some food by that point and headed over the Death Metal Pizza. I locked in the pizza but all that cheese and grease hit me like a cannon ball and dampened my desire to log in a few more hours of music. I decided to load photos and video and when that was accomplished the call of sleep was strong. I decide to nest back at Mike’s place to pick up the SXSW gauntlet for Saturday because the party never ends at SXSW.

SXSW Flickr Photo Gallery

07
Feb
12

Under The Big Black Sun: One More Night In The Soul Kitchen

I was upfront, leaning up against the stage looking out on dozens and dozens of glowing faces. The close ones were white and bright, full of smiles drifting to darker and darker silhouettes to the back of the club. All were focused toward the stage I was leaning on where I slowly slide up on it, while the members of X paused between songs for a breather. I thought it was the perfect time to fire up a cigarette. Soon I felt a nudge against my back. I turned to my right to look up at Exene gesturing with her fingers, pressed closely to her lips, as if she was taking a drag from a cigarette. I smiled and she smiled back as her hand passed my shoulder and drifted by my cheek, she took the Camel nail from my hand that was lifting up toward her mouth. She then stood up for a second taking 2 solid drags from my camel straight and passed it back to me. Once returned I took another puff off the now moist butt of my cigarette as the band slammed into another Punk Rock classic. In front of me all were being driven wild  by the music. The churning of young hot sweating bodies were tangled weaving to the fast beat laid out by DJ Bonebreak, searing guitar work of Billy Zoom and bleeding edge harmonies of both John Doe and Exene Cervenka slamming against the walls of the Bacchanal. It was the sound of Punk mixed with break-neck speed Rockabilly from the album Wild Gift that tossed the Bacchanal into unrestrained chaos. X selling out 3 night’s of this 500 plus venue in Claremont Mesa in San Diego. The only commercial radio station that played X was KROQ. Everything that brought people together that night was essentially generated by word of mouth from all the Punks, while slightly crossing over to the mainstream. We refered to the mainstream as the “Normals”. That night and the other passed by with blistering Punk Rock ferocity for this Southern California musical power house who was the spearhead for the young and budding army of colored haircuts and leather jackets. It was revelatory, celebratory and lifestyle affirming as we participated in making history, changing culture, while Rockin’ to one of the most intelligent bands to emerge in years. Their songs had content, commentary and substance embodied in skillful song craft. Exene and John Doe’s relationship was an archetype that Punk couple aspired to and emulated. Their relationship was tough, funny and loving and it was reflected in the band’s lyrics and that made X unique among most of the SoCal based Punk Bands. As the years passed X never reached the multi-million status that they were at one time expected to reach. X losing some of their base after signing with Warner Bros. where they were being pulled in a more Pop direction by the guru’s at the label. That was followed with Billy Zoom leaving the band and then the dream couple eventually separating and devouring.

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X still carried on like troopers with new band members and new releases. But for most, the magic was gone. Punk Rock found new heroes and new mythologies to attach themselves to. Exene and John created the acoustic country folkish duo The Knitters a year later. I saw The Knitters for the first time in Tijuana at a Luis Guerena, of Tijuana No, produced show. There was a who’s who of the San Diego Punk Glitterati in attendance. All were eager to be a part of this new setup. All evolved wanted bragging right for seeing one of the first performances of The Knitters. I loved the new thing while getting hammered on cheap Mexican beer. The show was raided by the Federales and was closed down: Punks scattering everywhere. Therefore, the show was a complete success from a Punk Rock perspective. As the years past The Kniters virtually dissolved and John Doe explored a solo career and Exene took up art. With all these changes and morphing, I and we, stilled hung on to our majestic memories of X in their heyday. One night I was giving Jane Weidlin a foot rub at an after party from Cover 13 celebrating Retail Slut’s 20th anniversary. Jane and I got on the subject of how we missed Billy Zoom. We were so glad he had rejoined the band. Jane had seen them recently and said they had torn it up. Billy hadn’t lost any of guitar prowess being an air-conditioned repair man. Jane’s slave name escapes me now, but she was a slave of Sabrina belladonna that night. Jane had been assigned to me for the foot message by Sabrina. It turned out to be a perfect pairing. We carried on for nearly an hour going down the nostalgia road pleased at the reunion of both X and the GoGo’s. It was  a splendid night to rehearse the past. The scene was so close-knit and meaningful for all of us, Jane, myself and everybody evolved. Those memories were so dear that it could only hit a deep emotional and resonating chord with us all who shared this unique past. Our reminiscing validated our choices then and affirmed our love for the music and the scene’s characters, of which, every one of us were very much characters, role-playing, living out our dreams in this vibrant scene. After all the years X was still a vital topic.

I eventually ran in to Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and I pressed him on the topic of Jim Morrison with what you could call a plan B strategy. I had read “No One Gets Out Of Here Alive” at the time of X’s rise in popularity. For me the book was a watershed read that helped me perfect and define my own Punk Rock persona. Of course there was plan B or the sub agenda I had for Ray. Plan B was to ask him about his producing X’s Los Angeles. X’s first album release. As I pressed Ray about Jim you could read the “sign” registering on his face that said, “They always ask about fuckin’ Jim!”. For me seeing that look was just as important as if he’d started telling me old Rock N’ Roll war stories. It was easy to switch gears and question him about one of our favorite band, X. As he reminisced about X his face lit up and he became open. His gestures and body language read way happier, as we talked music and X. A few years later we ran into one another again and picked up where we left off. X, is but one symptom of Ray’s obsession with music: new music, experimental music and how technology affects the communication of music and musical performances. I can see why Ray’s face lit up about X now that I understand his fascination with the new and the experimental expression of musical performances. That’s why X fit that groove perfectly for Ray at the time they worked together on “Los Angeles“. Clearly, X posed a defining moment in music, Punk and SoCal’s culture: I mean the low, the down and out, the disenfranchised subculture that bred rampantly during the late 70′s and the early 80′s in Southern California, The Punk Rock movement change California from only being seen as a sun drenched subtropical utopia. X was the hub, the nexus of this with a call and response declaration of the desperate, reaching for meaning and recognition during a dark time!

During Christmas, as is my tradition, I migrated down to North Park to hobnob with my people. Yes, the remaining Punk legacy of San Diego’s Punk Rock culture. It’s the deepest roots I have and it represents the longest and most meaningful relationships of my life. Of course I hit The Casbah, the echo of previous heroic days, to be imbued by the “sweet” stale smell of smokey air, mobs of old scenesters mixing with new hipsters for Christmas Eve’s Exile on Kentner. Tim Maze was gracious and said hi. We both exchanged Christmas greeting and goodwill for a yearly reunion we often attend. After, Exile On Kentner I relocated at Kevin’s, cuddling up for a welcome sleep after my drive to San Diego. Christmas morning, joyfully waking to Robyn, Kevin, Stevie and Hammer for a Punk Rock beer soaked Christmas! After the gift giving, the laughs and a Prime Rib Christmas dinner I had one of my musings. We were relaxed, lounging in the afternoon winter’s sun in the front yard when I mentioned to Kev and Robyn that the Under The Big Black Sun concert at MOCA with X, The Dead Kennedys and The Advengers was coming up in January. The Universe must have turned on a switch because it was on! Robyn said buy your tickets now because we’ll be coming down. So the plan was set or so it appeared. I, after all, was a sluffer, waiting to buy the tickets after I joined MOCA again. But I was real busy and time passed very quickly in the leading up to the show. Oddly, about the time I was deciding to purchase the ticket I decided to check the MOCA website. I starred in shock as the graphic on the web page read Sold Out! I was unaware that it would go public and I thought I had more time. Damn, damn and damn! Funny enough I received a text the next day from Robyn asking if I was ready and had I bought my ticket. I looked at the text feeling guilt ridden at my slacker ways and hesitated to respond. I broke the bad news to Robyn. Robyn being who she was, was magnanimous and supportive. This was about 10 days out. So I seethed and simmered in my juices for most of that time looking for a way to hook it up. Just about the time I was about to start pulling strings and asking for favors I got another text. This was Robyn letting me know that her and Kevin was dropping out. I was bummed for them and there was a part of me that felt I had let them down. It was a big weekend for me because I was planning on celebrating the Chinese New Year. Ilona Sampovaara, a wonderful lowbrow artist I had met had a showing as well. I was feeling a time crunch, torn loyalties, with great distances to breach and people to meet. Robyn made everything simple and brilliant. But Robyn is always able to pull out the bright side of a negative situation. She was good enough to let use the tickets. I was tremendously grateful. Robyn knows how to take oranges and make orange juice out of them. I thought a good course for the evening would be to bring Ilona along. Ilona has some remarkable art that demonstrates a witty sence of humor, has an observant eye, a sense of irony and clever commentary built into her paintings of dogs, cats and skewed youthful innocence. I thought the MOCA event would be perfect for her and give her a little more adventure to her visit here in Los Angeles from Mexico.

Saturday arrived with different degrees of drama at different times that would bunch up and then release, then linger like a dangling noose of anticipated till early evening. Ilona and I met. Then came our brief catch up session before we moved to rest Under The Big Black Sun at MOCA. We arrived, for me, in an uncharacteristic early manner to soak in MOCA’s vibe and art. I was surprised to see it was outdoors and in MOCA’s courtyard. We were early and the crowd was thin. We chatted for a while and the Avengers hit the stage after a long and momentum introduction. I hadn’t seen them before and was curious, but honestly I had low expectations. They were hard, they were tight and they were Punk Rock. The Avengers did a harder version of the Rolling Stone’s “Paint It Black”. They had good stage presence. Brad Kent played searing guitar and had a great look. Their pedigree stems from, Penelope Houston, who was at the Winter Land performance opening up of the Sex Pistols. Brad Kent was part of early Punk bands that spawned groups like D.O.A. and the Subhumans. Of course, I left Ilona behind to get close to photograph the Avengers. At one point I ran into Kim Buresh an entertainment lawyer and friend. It was nice to see her. I started recording a video with my camera and the song happened to be “Fuck You”. What a laugh! I turned to Kim and said, “Of all the songs I would choose to video it would be the song “Fuck You!” We both laughed at the idea and after the song ended I drifted back to Ilona. It wasn’t long before the band closed and the audience began to swirl towards the bar and thicken for the Dead Kennedys performance. Shana Nys Drambrot appeared out of the darkness to say hi. We talked about the bands and her tweeting to her Twitter followers to let them know what was going down at MOCA. She had a press pass from either LA Canvas or the Weekly. She was “Stage Pit” ready! While I’m talking LA Weekly I should note that Falling James was occuping the front stage pit for most of the evening. But in a matter of minutes made 2 passes by us that had me think he was cruising Shana and myself like the boys do at La Jolla and Santa Monica at Circus Books. Then much to my surprise Gary Baseman popped out from nowhere, all Punked up with leather jacket and wildly arrayed pink spiky braids with some stylin’ red bondage pants. Then it got all crazy as I popped off a few shots only to further wind up the action even more as Anthony Ausgang jumped in when I was shooting Jeffrey Deitch and Gary. At that moment the “Lowbrow” scene was blowing up way bigger than the Punk Rock scene we were all here to catch and honor. It was 10 minutes of friendly, nutty horse-play with these “Lowbrow Boys”. Before you knew it, Gary was piggy back riding Anthony, then jumping around and making dramatic posses and fierce faced goofiness. It’s moments like this that take me back to my reading of early 20th Century artist. Gary and Anthony’s horse-play reminded me how wondrous and vibrant the art scene must have been then just as much as it now with mischief and shenanigans I had just witnessed. For examples of such play can be seen when Dalí tied a beget to his head with a scarf for the whole evening for one of his openings. The Dadaists and Theatre Of Hate performances stirring up the crowd to the point of fighting or the rows between Malevich and Tatlin in Russia. What a great moment as it all went spinning out of control! Boys being boys: It was for me the best opening act for X I could have imagined.

Next came the Dead Kennedys sans Jello Biafra. I’ve seen Jello with No Means No in Dallas at the Orbit Room in the 90′s. Sadly, I’ve never seen Jello and the band he spearheaded all those revolutionary ideas with some of the most stunning, the proactive art work to almost get pass the censors. I tend to be a purest. I know Jello did wrong and the band deserved better. But his presence is so huge and his delivery so spot on it’s hard for me to get past and it’s pretty much a deal breaker. But the band hit the stage to deliver a competent version of the Kennedys. They hit all the highs with Kill the Poor, Holiday in Cambodia , Nazi Punks Fuck Off,  California Über Alles and many more. I have to confess I was drawn in by the infectious California Über Alles, because it’s a classic and it’s the way I feel about California right now. I did sing along with a great deal of glee and nostalgia! Towards the end they tightened it up even more where the singer honed in on Jello’s sound. So it was a pleasing end. We all, Shana, Ilona and myself chatted for a bit more before X took the stage and Shana took off for a close up of the X’s performance.

By the time X hit the stage MOCA had hit it’s sold out state. Going in for photos was difficult. Members of the crowd were having their own private family reunion and they weren’t very accommodating or desiring to share their space with me. So I was pushed or shoved as I passed by with my camera. X opened with the “The Phone Is Off The Hook But Your Not”. The crowd was devoted and surprisingly stayed, but packed, with only few taking the opportunity to pogo or shake it on this night. Billy Zoom’s playing was as brilliant and effortless looking as always. DJ kept hammering the beat. John and Exene were wailing in harmony with those break neck turns and spins that come along with their songs. Los Angeles, Johnny Hit and Run Paulene, Nausea, We’re Desperate and the list goes on. Unlike previous performances there were less antics and play between John and Exene. No teasing Exene in-between songs, like John did at Hootenanny or intimate chit-chat with the crowd like at Lobsterfest. Mostly, straight ahead Rockin. DJ got the drum solo of his career during The Hungary Wolf. It was much like the performance I had gotten to see at the Greek for when Under The Big Black Sun had first been released. Sharp, to the point and professional. I’m thinking their in full on concert mode because they’re touring with Pearl Jam in South America and Europe, which is a stunning mix of styles, but very similar ethos. X is finally making the money they so richly deserve. It was a great show and appropriately they ended their set with The Doors’ Soul Kitchen. A great cover of a classic I love. It’s quite a tribute to their art and staying power, to what was once a fresh and raw wet behind the ears struggling Punk band. Now X is being the driving force and focus of a tribute to an era with MOCA’s Under The Big Black Sun. It’s such a statement of devotion, when fans still come out to see such a great band play on a night like this and can only be seen as a strong statement for their future too. It’s like a friendship when it starts new, so young, played with such zeal and enthusiasm, then as the years go by it matures into something comfortable, pleasant and enduring. When Exene took a drag off my cigarette so many years ago I had no idea the legacy it would lead to, nor did I know that X would remain a focus of a generation that so pleasingly defined the enduring culture of Southern California’s Punk scene. We all share a remarkable legacy Under The Big Black Sun!

09
Nov
11

Eve To Adam: Taki Take Me with You!

I was recently able to extract myself from a maelstrom of activities here on the “Eastside” of Los Angeles to meet and photograph East Coast Rock music phenomenons Eve To Adam. Taki Sassaris fronts this power driven Alternative Rock ensemble hailing from New York. The Eve To Adam party started in earnest at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on a Wednesday evening just before their very first gig at the historic Whisky A Go Go. I would tell Taki later that it’s quiet an accomplishment to book a gig at the Whisky and a milestone in any bands trajectory to the top of music entertainment. So as the energy built to the gig we were treated to 3 of  The Rainbow’s 4 food groups: Pizza, Wings and Booze! I have to say The Rainbows pizza is really good and I’m not much of a pizza fan. So there was 3 of us photogs waiting in the wings and it was on for the photo ops, in that friendly competitive drive to catch the great shots, as we do. So we headed to the parking lot of the Rainbow to do group shots with the talent and the suits. I have to admit records execs aren’t as “Suity” as film execs. Eve To Adam were true pros when it came to photo ops. Taki is a natural for the camera and was always on it! Taki brought it much in the same way Moby had a few weeks back at Kopeckian Gallery for me. We all were standing there when Sebastian Bach strides up to the Rainbow, Rocking his Rock N’ Roll gear. He was about to enter the Rainbow and turns to blow the guys a kiss, only within seconds to find himself in the midst of paparazzi photog flash heat. Talk about another pro, Sebastian took control, much to eveyone’s joyous response, jumping right into the middle of our set-up, delivering all the Rock god poses and looks! I got some awesome shots of Eve To Adam with Sabastian. From there on I followed Sebastian to lock in a classic shot of him and Mike Weber at the entrance at the Rainbow. The party continued on the well known front patio. We photogs haunted the front entrance of the Rainbow for a bit talking of NYC fashion week and whatnots. Then I wanted to soak up a couple of cocktails and hang with my home girl, Karen. I guess that was a good idea because I was soon hearing stories from the guy that made the Ratt‘s (aka, Mickey Ratt) Round and Round video. Hearing the story of Ratt’s wrap party at the Rainbow for the Round and Round video that stared Milton Berle would have curled hairs. You know me, just a fly on the wall, sucking in the details. Soon after that I got together with Taki to shoot some specific shots. I brought up his new Romantic advice blog “Ask Taki” at The Comet. We shared some stories getting to know one another while having a few laughs and snagging some choice photos! I noticed that Stephanie Mata was running the door of On The Rox at the Roxy. I hadn’t seen her in forever. I had to drop by for a quick catch up and a few fun photos before we all headed to the Whisky. I first partied at On The Rox with “White Trash Wins Latto” by Andy Prieboy and Rita D’Albert of Lucha Vavoom in an after party after the White Trash performance and before the real after party up in the Hollywood hills at Dave Foley‘s house.

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The cornerstone of what Eve To Adam has to deliver is in their live performance. It was a big night at the Whisky with some 6 bands in the line up with ETA set for an 8;30pm show. The place had good attendance with a mix of young and old ready for the music. Being a veteran of the Whisky, I perched near the back stage door on the balcony. I wanted to get an overview of the action from there first. Besides, that part of the Whisky is nice and dark keeping it on the downlow for that room. I ate up the first 3 songs on top with ETA laying out the groove, guitars blazing and drums pounding with Taki commanding the stage with songs from the new CD, Banquet For A Starving Dog. It showcased Taki’s power driven vocals with ETA’s hit “Run Your Mouth” with its hooky course and “Fault line” with it’s Randy Rhoads influenced riffy guitar leads were shaking things up! Then I joined in on the Rockin’ on the floor. As they say, I was up above it and now I was down in it! Taki is a great front man and the band had tons of energy to spare to take charge of the stage. The crowd, some of which were already fans, and those who were being won over by such a solid and Rockin’ set; all pulled in closer and tighter.  Taki took a moment to reach out to the audience, taking about the music and conversationally relating to everyone there how he was digging the LA scene. There’s one thing I know for sure about New Yorkers, they know how to party! ETA brought it! New Yorkers are brisk, big hearted and a hell of a lot of fun! I know because of my friend Pat Giordano bassist of Last Days and a New York “Club Kid”, Toni Koystyan, I dated for a while. Taki kept it “New York Real” and launched in the the last part of Eve To Adam’s set keeping it dynamic and energetic. Favoring us with every element of his vocal ability, bringing the power and beauty together with his voice in the songs like “Stay” and “Glasses High”, while proving he had grit and passion in songs like “Little Say” and “Reach”. “Reach” closed the set delivering a sucker punch that made the fan howl and cheer!

I was fortunately over to the right side finishing up the photo work when ETA closed where Chuck Zito of Oz and Charlie Sheen‘s ex-body guard was soaking the last drops of this hot set. Chuck was totally ready for his photo op too. I shot a fast one then headed out to shoot everybody vibing off of the Strip and the Whisky A Go Go! The band and Chuck locked arms to Rock the corner of the Whisky, rallying memories for me of all of those epic bands that have shaken the walls of the music institution for the last half century. Once the photographs were done Taki and crew spent time with their fans for autographs and photos. Chuck Zito broke down some DL on Charlie Sheen. So it was quite a star studded evening and event that burned bright on the Sunset Strip that night. I enjoyed getting to know this New York based band who has the chops to make it big and to catch them balls out Rock us with their song craft, towering stage presence and to take in Taki’s vocal prowess. A good time was had by one and all!

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10
Oct
11

Culture Collide Blowing Up the International Indie and Alternative Music Scenes in Silver Lake: Sunday

Sunday was the last day of Filter‘s Culture Collide following 4 days of music, movies and art events, Sunday’s performances ends Culture Collide’s second year as a festival. I was running late, due to blogging, on Saturday’s intinerary of band performances when Scott alerted me to the fact he was already at the festival via email. He was already to assist me in documentation all of this international music and wasn’t there yet. I was a little unhinged upon arriving at Taix, the hot spot for this festival. Scott and his friend Kristi met me in the parking lot of Taix. We pow wowed for a minute. I decided that Chad Van Gaalen was the band to give the once over twice.

Chad VanGaalen offered a nice soft Alternative Rock. There was no theatrics or onstage mayhem as the quartet strung us along from one melodic moment to another with the occasional whistling solo. It was one of those things that eased you into the mid-after noon. Interesting enough VanGaalen plays in a side project called Women. You’ll get my drift when your read just below here.

Soon came Men on the Antics Stage 1 and yes there were! While, I can’t say whether it is a declaration or celebration of their gender or their desired gender of interest. In either case they were energetic and very upbeat. They had matching shiny metallic jump suits with a purple and black zig zag print on their jumpsuit’s jackets. They were very uniform if appearance. It was Rockish Dance music presented with athletic histrionics and they were manic to say the least. I lasted 3 songs and then drifted to the chaos inside Taix to take’r easy.

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Once refreshed, I sauntered casually over to see Echo Park locals Rainbow Arabia on the Antics Stage 2. I think we all know what local means here: the band moved to Silver Lake/Echo Park in the last 3 or 4 years to be a part of the Hipster phenomon. Tiffany Preston, the lead singer/guitarist, has a presence similar to Patti Smith: Her hair in her face and they share a long and lanky look. There music they were playing is called electronic, but I found it to be filled with overtones of world music influences, extracting indigenous sounds found in South America and Africa music. Their approach to music blends light keyboard sounds, ethnic and tribal percussion, utilizing the guitar in riffy and slightly percussive manner with Preston’s lingering vocals over the soundscape. It was a good solid show and a fine warm up leading to finally seeing Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

I checked in to see Avi Buffalo for a short time. I’d already seen their performance on Friday in the Champagne room of Taix. I took it upon myself to shoot another video for better audio quality over that of Friday night’s performance. Avi Buffalo’s show was good enough Friday to return to document a cleaner, less noisy version of them playing. Then there’s the plus getting them up on the big Antics Stage with a large adoring crowd.

Next to come up on Antics Stage 2 was The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, a Danish band, brought their version of European Neo Soul to the stage. Mette Lindberg, appears to be channeling Hipster meets a blend of Debbie Harry and Princess. It was the gold mic that added the Princess flavor to my analysis. The band has a Soul/R&B sound with mid-tempo beats and a rich horn section with a clean straight ahead vocals, very unlike Amy Winehouse. She knew her stuff and layed it down for the next 45 minutes with me counting down to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah‘s set.

I counted some 25 photogs all in a line at Antics Stage 1. The thickening crowd that had been swelling for 15 minutes before scheduled show was to begin were now enduring the tedium of a sound check. It only proves the pulling power of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah to the LA audience. The fans were eagerly waiting and standing as things heated up in anticipation of the show. A show that was to happen at Sunset Junction, then at the Echo, which then was cancelled because of the Hurricane hitting New York. Now, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are finally going to blow up here on the street behind Taix. I mustard a position for best photographic effect, while being squeezed all around by devotees and waiting for the band to launch their set. The lights popped on as Alec Ounsworth pushed up to the mic, guitar at the ready with the band close behind. In a fraction second everyone jumped into the set. The cheers of the fans rose up with Alec’s urgent delivery with hit and run intensity that lasted for the first 4 songs with no let up. The photogs were “all up in it”, all jostling for position to capture the erupting musical assault and on stage energy! The band was busy delivering the experience. Alec led the way as a power packed showman bearing down on the mic with his vocal delivery. Mid-set they played the hit “Satan Said Dance” and the crowd went into a frenzy: jumping and singing along till they were breathless. Alec introduced a new song in their set, Maniac, in support of their new album Hysteria. Acceptance was immediate and everybody was on it with furious feet and gyrating hips! The dancing didn’t stop from then on out. The set was tight energetic and polished, as much as any “Indie” can be polished. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah gave every one that attended exactly what they wanted and then some. I loved every moment of it! It was a great show and an awesome way for everyone to experience a much anticipated band that everyone had been waiting on for such a damn long time!

Datarock then followed Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. So we switched to the Antic Stage 2 where they were set to perform. Scott and Kristi after proving 4 hours of assistance to my every video need had to move on. Once again with the running suits or glamy sweats that Datarock pioneered, as far as I know, were up on the stage giving it. Whenever, I see Datarock in their look I think of Ben Stiller and the twins from the The Royal Tenenbaums. It always creates a smirk on my face. They were active, running all over the stage working the crowd. The sound wasn’t right though for a performance but it turned out well for my video. It was like sound check didn’t pay off for them. The sound was dull, lacking brightness and volume I had heard all day long at other stages. But that didn’t deaden the enthusiasm the band or the faithful as they hammered away at the show. Nonetheless, the audience thinned a bit and the devoted were hooked on every song. Towards the latter part of the middle of their set they hit on their hit of “Fa Fa Fa” re-energizing the fans. Like Felix the Cat and his magic bag of tricks Datarock kept going for the one up on their previous effort ranking on themselves at every step. Fredrik Saroea declared that Jerry Casale of Devo was directing Datarock’s new music video for their song California.They were shooting footage right there live too. The band introduced Jerry to the audience. A group of people would barely know who he was and yet they were enthusiastic, releasing a festive cheer for him as Datarock launched in to song California. Jerry jumped in and powered a duet with Fredrik as the band posed and preened to the music soaking up all that Devo glory. At the end Fredrik declared that eveybody will be in the California music video. I was thinking, everybody in the front rows will be in the music video. Those like myself, who were in the dark, have little to no chance of being seen in that video. But I’ll buy in on the level of Sunday evening fun and I love a good pitch. Datarock closed out their set with cheery satisfied audience. At this point I’d had scored a totally awesome performance of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on video. It had been along weekend of friends, fun and great music. So I could call it a day without any guilt and chalk this Culture Collide up to another exceptional weekend of above average music and general frivolity.

09
Oct
11

Culture Collide Blowing Up the International Indie and Alternative Music Scenes in Silver Lake: Saturday

After making a late night and an early morning of it crunching a blog, sifting through, optimizing photos and making concert video I met up with Sandra at Taix. It was considerate of Sandra to save a place for me at Taix’s bar. We had just missed the Swedish showcase because we were running late. Thus missing the complementary Swedish beers. We caught up on the latest and discussed the upcoming line up for the next 2 days at Cultural Collide . Lanksies had a false start, which we found startling and funny. Then finally The Lanksies jumped in with their French version of Brit Pop: like Bloc Party, Adam Ant, XTC and Blur. It was hella fun! They were clever talented musicians that wrapped everything in a smirk and a wink. It was also very fun to hear the lead singer talk English with a slight French accent with an even heavier Scottish brogue. His pronunciation cause major confusion between Sandra and myself in the midst of our deducing Lanksies’ point of origin, even though they were introduced to be from France.  They gave a lot of bang for the buck. The closing song was a funny ditty called Client Eastwood is Dead. It was a snappy performance that made them memorable.

I headed over to the Methodist Church to catch my ole pal Carina Round who was supported by the amazing keyboardist Zac Rae. I love to hear her sing. She has such a beautiful and powerful voice. Her song writing and her composition are always superb. She was in fine voice this night; although, Zac had a buzz in one of the processors of his keyboard affects that was more distracting to them than the crowd in the church. It was an acoustic set with electric piano. Her fans were entranced and eating up the whole thing. She finished her set with Back Seat. It’s truly one of her most beautiful songs. She asked everyone to sing along. Then everyone joined in. I find that Back Seat is a powerfully sweet and sentimental that I choke up on it every time I sing a long. It was a great closer. I went up and got my free hug and briefly chatted. She had fans a waiting and who am I to stand in their way. Keep you eyes open for the upcoming Puscifer tour of which Carina will be an essential part of Puscifer’s show.

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Then I was off to Descartes a Kant. I had no idea what to expect. Woa, was I in for a surprise! The easiest way to describe them would be to compare them to The Plastics meeting The Tubes. They mix Doo Wop, orchestral mayhem, avant garde performance art and theatrics. I was bamboozle, flummoxed, befuddled by their colorful stage antics. The girls in the band through glitter on the crowd and sprayed eveyone in the audience with sudsy stuff while they pantomimed pouting, rage, surprise, horror, evny, wicked joy and revenge with all the mellow drama that could be mustard by three overly emotive gals. At times it was a drowning oral cacophony assault similar to the Locust with hyper amounts of estrogen poured on it. I found them thrilling, enthralling and hilarious! They had us by the balls and they were squeezing them tighter and smirking! There whole set was like listening to Gang of Four‘s He’s Send In The Army tied to a laugh. They are a must see performance on anybody’s book.

I then hunted up and down Sunset looking for the elusive space called 826LA. I was lucky enough to receive misdirection many times. But then I struck gold finding You Say France and I Whistle from Sweden. They were a mix of Love Is All, Weekend and Everything But The Girl with one exception, the male singer sounded like Robert Smith. So I would imagine when he sang I listening to Love Is All with Robert Smith would joining in for harmony at pivotal points in the sings. Odd,  but not repulsive, just odd. They had 3 singers two keyboards, a bass, a guitar and drums laying some smooth tasty Pop down with a little edge. I enjoyed the set and the crowd kept close and focused in this tight space as the music pumped out. It wasn’t a dramatic end to the evening, as I had hoped for, by finally seeing Isobel Campbell after 3 year of waiting. It was still a fabulously relaxing thing to do at the end of a long day of running around Silver lake.




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