On Sunday at Human Resources, we had our fourth Save Music in Chinatown DIY punk matinee/benefit gig to raise money for the defunded music program at Castelar Elementary. It was our first event to sell out thanks to the help and support of the bands, our friends, and pals with blogs and radio shows (Gabie at KCHUNG and Steve and Max from KXLU’s Molotov Cocktail Hour).
Perhaps more than any of the previous shows, this one was set up like a mixtape with bands that were totally different but made sense and flowed next to each other. There was the undercurrent of O.G. L.A. punk that flowed through the bands: My Revenge (Hector Penalosa was in The Zeros), Evil Hearted You (Louis Perez III’s dad is in Los Lobos), The Bicycle Thief (Bob Forrest is a fixture in the scene and Josh Klinghoffer is in the Chili Peppers). But they’re also like family. The Zeros and Los Lobos have shared bloodlines and Thelonious Monster and Los Lobos have a share as sordid past as well as a musical one.
I love getting favorite bands and people together and it’s even better when they didn’t even know they were meant to be friends. The leaders of My Revenge and Evil Hearted You, Hector and Louis, are different generations of Latino and roots-inspired SoCal punk. I always love seeing Tony Adolescent at our benefits, too. This time his brought his daughter and her best friend, which made it even better.
Evil Hearted You’s Ben Solis had some run-ins, too. He brought our mutual friend Emily Ryan, who I hadn’t seen in years. She used to be in Emily’s Sassy Lime! And then mid-set he spotted his old friend Spizz, who happened to have a big part in making the Bicycle Thief’s first, last, and only studio album happen.
The garage rock sounds of Molotov Cocktail Hour warmed up the venue and kept the vibe going while I ranted off thanks and raffle prizes. My wife and co-host of the shows Wendy Lau created a huge poster out of the flyer that Louis Perez III made for the show. Fans actually offered money for the posters right off the wall, as well as the older ones that we had hanging. Gotta figure that into our merch next time…
My Revenge kicked off the show with a garage rock set that was a little darker and heavier than Hector’s more rockin’ Zeros or melodic Flying Color. The newest member Eric Olvier fit right in with longtime member David Arguello and fellow Baja Bugs drummer Nico Peters holding it down. I was stoked when they played my favorite Zeros song ever, “They Say That (Everything’s Alright)” and even happier when my daughter danced with me in the corner to it. Hector promises that My Revenge will release something eventually, so keep an ear out for that.
Evil Hearted You were next, and I can’t believe that this was only their second live show. Their debut was at X’s Make The Music Go Bang! fest, so how honored was I when they said they’d follow it up with our gig. The new album is beautifully crafted with a lot of space and tension–and the Weiner cassette has been in my van for weeks now–but the trio really tear it up live. I was joking around by yelling “Gun Club!” between songs because I heard them try out a cover during rehearsal, but then they actually ended their set with it. Hot damn!
This was The Bicycle Thief’s first hometown show in 13 years and it was a big deal to me that they would get together for our little benefit. Bob had played an excellent, introspective set at our very first benefit but this time was totally different with Josh present. Not only did the Dot Hacker’s freakishly gifted guitar playing free Bob to stand up and really attack the mic but their rapport made him more comfortable to share stories about Chinatown, songwriting, rehab, and Oasis. So sad, so beautiful.
The combined level of songwriting, musicianship, and unedited honesty is too good to be true, and many of us fans never got to see them play in the year or two before Josh was snatched up by the Chili Peppers. Some video from Sunday is leaking out, and I saw someone bootlegging the show, too. So although you really had to be there, maybe you can still get a taste on YouTube.
Thanks to the bands for playing and thanks to Human Resources for always sharing their space with us. Thanks to Grant for handling sound and Nate for bringing in Bob and Josh (and helping every time anyway). Thanks to everyone who donated to the already legendary bake sale and awesome raffle and worked the tables. My pal Sarvi doesn’t even have kids that go to our school but did some serious gourmet baking! Thanks to Chris at Scoops Chinatown for the ice cream, Julia at interTrend for donating coffee, and the kind folks at Purgatory Pizza for the slices.
And of course thanks for everyone who bought tickets or told friends or family to buy tickets. Our three little shows a year won’t pay for the school’s annual $50,000 bill for music education. (Last year, we donated just over $10 grand.) But building community counts and so does raising awareness. And if we can bring punk rock back to Chinatown, that’s even better.
Please share our story with like-minded friends–not only so they can join us next time but hopefully try making a difference in their own way. We never had experience throwing shows or fund-raisers. We just went for it and with help from old friends and new ones, we’re doing some good and having blast. See you at the next show in February!
Find out about our next show by following this blog or joining the Save Music in Chinatown group on Facebook.