Posts Tagged ‘Echo Park


Chysta Bell: Something In The Way She Moved Brought On A Heat Wave!!!

David Lynch is a prominent figure in the film industry and looms largely in my own sensibilities since the advent of Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet gave me open cause to recant scenes like I would song lyrics, while verbalizing the vivisectioned bodies of dirty little secrets. You know the ones, the ones you’re Mother would have slapped you for when you were a child, a bad child of mischief! She would have endlessly pelted you about your face for such secrets. My first date with the woman who would become my first serious girlfriend revolved around us slapping one another in the face the way Isabella Rossellini had been slapped in the bedroom scene of Blue Velvet. Mind you, it wasn’t in the privacy of my home or an event designed for such play, but at 7969 Santa Monica in the early evening just before Alexis Arquette‘s Aquarium night club was to debut to hordes of anxious local clubers. By the time this visceral mating exchange had ended between myself and Gabriella at 7969. On our way to Aquarium at Oscar’s she thought it was a good idea to propose marriage to me. I accepted. It was a night of hot, hot heat. She finished off her proposal by putting out a lit cigarette on the tender underside of my left forearm and stated, “Don’t cheat on me or I’ll fucking kill you!” Awe, the benefits of a drunken escapade and a good script to lead you through the chaos of budding young love. David Lynch holds a special place in my heart that few have ever trespassed and less likely occupied for offering the inspiration that led to those moments.

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Years later, I would find myself noodling about my Facebook Fan Page extolling my next exploit, which would be shooting The Neville Brothers at the Hollywood Bowl for the LA Beat. After I posted the news a good friend ask me if I would be going to The Bootleg Theater on Thursday. My thoughts were no, but my instincts wanted to know why and yes. So I queried him of this intrigue. He shot back that Chrysta Bell would be performing there and David Lynch would likely be making an appearance. The next comment from Jonas was keep it on the downlow. It didn’t take long for me to suppress the story on my Fan Page to a lower status with a less noisy reference for people to peer on. The following day I shot The Neville Brothers. Bob Lee of LA Beat was good enough to arrange the photo pass and provided me with a seat. I ran into Vince Wilburn Jr. nephew of the late Miles Davis with his lovely fiance Ingrid. He suggested that I should come over for a visit at the intermission. It was a cool night and Vince made it cooler by bringing me back stage to meet everybody and hang out.

On Thursday I was primed and pumped for some witchy twisty ways at The Bootleg Theater. The Bootleg Theater claims to be in Silverlake but the truth be known, it might, barely, maybe be considered to be in Echo Park. It’s kind of like someone claiming to be an original Punk Rocker but has a look ripped form a magazine: a Pop approximation like “Jimbo” rather than Johnny Rotten. I can’t tell if The Fold know what they’re doing by their base and ignorant actions, but I know for sure David and crew do by their smart adaptations to The Bootleg’s environment! For all the secrecy it was apparent when I arrived it wasn’t too much of a secret. The line was 50 to 60 feet long. There were folks who had more urgency than myself, who were eagerly passing me on my way to the end of the line. By the time they were letting people in the line had doubled. I had been texting with Jonas who was on the inside with Director Tammi Sutton and Tim Polecat of the Polecats. Once in the room I felt like the place had changed. It was similar to the previous times I had been there, yet different. I couldn’t put my finger on it. The main room or the room I was ushered into had no stage but a bar. Bars are important to bar but then so are stages for music venues. I soaked it in searching for Jonas. I notice Tim first, then Tammi and then Jonas came into view. I struck up a conversation with Tim since Jonas was chatting up a lady. Tammi chimed in on the layout of the place. I eventually had to rest in the restroom. That’s when I discovered the original room with the stage. A new aspect to the room were the table and chairs. I nested in my chair thinking the show would be in that room. Within the next 20 minutes people filtered in a bit befuddled by the layout. People were gathering behind me in what was an approximation of a line. Jonas, Tim and Tammi scooted from the other area to the room I was occupying. A little timed passed and Jonas who was on his feet came to me and said there another room behind me and us. There was indeed! Soon the door was opened with people crowding through a small short hallway into a more theatrical space with a nicely lit low stage. It was a big room too, easily holding everyone attending. We were some of the first in and we positioned close to where the action was going to happen.

The action started soon. First we saw David coming up from an underground stair case behind the stage. He then easily stepped on to the low stage. He was sharply dress with just the right amount of artist dishevelment: collar loose and open with french cuffs without cuff links, black suit and white shirt. David, was the David we’ve all come to know and love with his quirky studies speech and that particular twinkle in his eyes. That twinkle was a combination of Santa and twisted boyish mischief, akin to Alfred E. Neuman, but wholly owned by David. He properly attended to the mic stating with warm praise and charming mid-century double entendres the enthusiasm he held and wanted to conveyed to us all for his muse and chanteuse, Chrysta Bell. His remarks at times were enveloped by silent anticipation and other time with boyish titers and giggles from the fans. The crowd was primed and poised while hanging on every work till David pronounced the coming of Chrysta Bell. Chrysta Bell took the stage in a lady like fashion. The band follow her as David stepped back in a gentlemanly fashion so as let Chrysta Bell shine on her own. She owned the space and proceeded to fill the in role and the room so effectively provided for her.

This was a music performance, yet, dare I say, far, far more than a musical performance you generally get by an avarage Rock band. Chrysta holds your attention as if you were viewing Bambi, as an innocent doe, but she simmered, she’s a pressure cooker broadcasting sexual mysteries, primal urges with sophisticated twists jarring a boy’s imagination with the ideas of tumult, toys and tools. All that simmering with an introduction and homage to David from Chrysta. Every detail had been attended to as only a movie Director could arranged it. The lighting and the wardrobe felt like a David Lynch set. Reading everyone for an epic voyage. The fact we were ushered through 3 chambers in a procession to Chrysta’s show wasn’t lost on me for building tension and release. Drama surrounded this event from the master’s hand. This was very rare for any contemporary musical event. “Real Love” from This Train, started the set that ratched to song “This Train”, which automatically leads me to think of David’s interest in TM as a  means of healing and inner clarity he seeds through the David Lynch Foundation. Chrysta Bell’s vocal were clear bell-like tones that were rich with depth and carefully executed to a point of perfection. The annunciation closer to operatic vocals sans all the classic history attached to them. She reached for the untouched notes to caress those sound wave-like a mink stole would feel caressed close to the cheek. She reminds me, style wise, of early Cheateau Twins, less etherial and laced with her own earthy richness. Her costuming was wondrous. I’m sure David, being from the film industry, through a magical stylist or designer he’d worked with in the past in her direction. By “Be Bop A Lula”, a Rock classic, ushered in the removal of her high waist corset like fashioned dress was at this point cast aside for something darker. I mean darker as in more of a Dominatrix type of naughtiness. She was dressed down to black panties and bra with sheer black stockings supported by panty clips to hold them up. To make matters worse or better she had these spiked open toed stilettos slithering and dominating the floor. By this time half the room had chubbies. That nice scarf became an instrument of restraint, binding or a noose. No eyes were averted and anticipation of what would happen next keep the fans solidified in her direction. I’ve mention the clothes. I’ve mentioned her vocal treatment and control but I don’t want to leave folks guessing about her body and how she moves it. I was fascinated that she started out as the Holy Mother or the Goddess nurturer/healer then pivoted into balletic body language with posture and striking possess. She surprise me with tantric position of ecstasy and enthralled all with her command of her body as language. All of this progressed into the song “Angel Star” and “Swing With Me”. I have to give kudos to her wardrobe person. The choices made for her had lasted though more than half of the set providing so many moods, from pure to very provocative. She quietly removed herself for a wardrobe change for the finale. As if this was a theatrical performance she returned dressed in a body conscious brown and white evening dress with a classic silhouette of screen siren of mid-century singer. Everyone there was made aware of her womanliness. She was pleased and humbled by the applause and praise alloted her by the audience. She voiced her gratitude in a careflly measured way that was endearing. She finished her set with a perfect Pop song, as she put it, referring to David’s The “Truth is” off of This Train. The place was a pressure cooker for over an hour and she kept it hot, hot, hotter by building in her performance this mighty climax. She was sweet and gracious as she and the band exited the stage leaving us wanting more, more, more!


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.


Butthole Surfers Rolled Out Saturday as Sunset Junction Shimmers Away

As Sunset Junction melted away on a Wednesday afternoon, as much as, the prospect of my blogging and photographing of the event dripped away that day as well. Of course, there was a constant running dialog within a tight circle of friends on the Topic of Sunset Junction with it’s very much anticipated line up for Saturday and Sunday. This year’s line up was to be the  best and most concentrated ring of talent to have ever grace the streets of Sunset Junction in my memory. As the prospect of this inclusive weekend event broke into smaller fragments spreading amongst the various Eastside clubs, businesses and even local homes, I got a life line from my friend, Chris, who desperately wanted to see the Butthole Surfers and Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. Sadly, only one was to come to pass. Chris invited me to review and photograph the Butthole Surfers at the Echo Plex with the lure of dinner and drinks. This was an easy sale!

Come Saturday, we planned to get together and as the plan developed we nested at Taix, which is within spitting distance of the Echo Plex. The week had been hectic and chaotic for me with moving and travel, while putting a video package, EPK, together for artist and one man band “Ricky Lee Robinson” at a special party and showcase Heidi Margot Richman put together with a group of music publishers. Fatigued, exhausted and hilariously immobilized by an accident earlier in the week I managed to joined Chris for our drinks anyway. We started our Rock N’ Roll quest by ramping up the fun level at Taix with drinks and gossip. We started with a round of beers and a shot of whisky followed by another round of beers and then finished up with the same and one last shot of whisky a piece. Our Taix waitress managed to serve some rather large shots. We were both very afraid of those shots and happy about it at the same time. So we delayed gratification by sipping gingerly the whisky presented and continued talking about music. Chris is an exhaustive collector of tunage, who’s interest spans from the early Seattle scene, exotic Pink Floyd releases, Peruvian Psychedelics and a host of alternative bands of note. His interest is more perfectly represented in his eBay Store Vinyl Piper. So our conversation was peppered with obscure and trivial details about music and the music business.

We had agreed upon a strategic hit at the Echo Plex, thus avoiding local favs, 400 Blows. This is not the British 400 Blows of the late 80’s who’s focus was experimental: cut and paste found sounds, beats and noise delivered with social conscious grooves. I have the greatest respect for their work. The British 400 Blows had a brilliant adaptation of Charles Manson‘s interview with Tom Snyder; which was a supreme twisty mind fuck. This LA based 400 Blows preform boring, dullish and unimaginative rock n’ roll fare: always to be avoided!

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Chris and I easily scooted through the line of the Echo Plex to enter in to the “Sold Out” land of the Butthole Surfers! It was nice to run into Bert Ferguson and Iris Tower-y to pow wow for a minute before the show got started. During my exploits I ran into Anthony Ausgang, Marialyce Pedersen, Amanda Sherren and the lovely Satanica Batcakes as the evening progressed. The crowd moved with urgent zeal as the band took the stage for a very anticipated show. By this time I had completely lost Chris, who was eager to see the Butthole Surfers, for the first time, as I was for this Texas based band. The fans were entrenched, vacuumed sealed, you might say, as I tried on a few occasion to drive deep to the center to get better photos of the band as they performed. I should say I’m far from being a devotee, my impressions of a Butthole Surfers’ performance aren’t that of a manic band or a high energy ensemble, but more of a band that is jammy and thinky by nature. They’re as much performance art as Laurie Anderson. The Butthole Surfers show consist of slides and snippets of sub-pop counter-culture collages-images and video installations. This propel the lyrical narrative with spliced psychedelic Dadaist approach to words/images, using hypnotic trance flavored tonal rock that puts them in a category and in ideologically alignment, with ideas and thinking that is more in line with Sonic Youth. Although, Sonic Youth is very different musically than the Butthole Surfers. I dipped into my Butthole Surfers brain trust of devotees, Marialyce  Pedersen and Satanic Batcakes to get a read on the performance. Marialyce was cooing the praises of the Butthole Surfers magical set. Satanca had a very different perspective of the Butthole Surfers show. She pointed out that the sound mix was sub par and muddy. She also claimed that the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were playing. This round King Coffey, only one drummer this round, was with the band as Satanica pointed out. She said the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were present, which included the drummer Teresa Nervosa, as the Butthole Surfers had had in San Francisco at the Filmore in 2008. The sound was muddy on the parameters of the crowd and in the pit the sound appeared to clear up: meaning there was a sweet spot. So there was poor sound design by the sound man at this show. The Butthole Surfers played there mid 90’s hit “Pepper” that faded between being the recognizable hit and defused oblivion, bringing home Satanica’s take on their performance. Other songs covered in the set were, Hey, The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey’s Grave, Creep in the Cellar and they encored with 22 Going on 23. The show had it’s compelling moments, but because Gibby spent most, if not all, of his time at the Vox and that static presence tended to created a stillness in middle the stage. Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus had their volleys of action on either side, yet I found it hard for them to peak the stage energy in a synergistic way with Gibby’s Vox monolith between both. This lowered the overall energy of their set. I found I could hear in my mind where they wanted to go, but on a few occasions I couldn’t figure out with my ears where they were ending up. For true fans and devotees this a was a truly great performance. Hitting lots of high notes, digging deep from their older catalogue to the fan’s satisfaction. That all being said there were few defectors from the crowd at the Echo Plex during the performance: all lingering on every last morsels of delivered dosage by this siminal ground breaking post punk neo-psychedelic band. You can sign me up for another trip when the Butthole Surfers roll around again.

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