L.O.L.A. (not the Kinks song)

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I had coffee with my friend Vivian Bang today and she gave me the scoop on her new project. L.O.L.A. sounds like part of a Kinks song, but it’s actually an omnibus movie written by Vivian to be directed by ten of her filmmaker pals. Hello, Jessica Sanders!

I’d be lying if I said that I’m a huge supporter of the rideshare scene, which Vivian’s story touches on, but I love Los Angeles and look forward to seeing her takes on its neighborhoods. And who can’t get behind hard-working women who got sick of the lack of quality gigs in the industry and decided to start their own feature?

Check out the Kickstarter page and movie for the DIY flick, below. There are some pretty cool and affordable incentives. (Wait, how much was that coffee worth?) And even if you can’t spare any dough, spreading the word helps, too!

p.s. Watch Vivian on TBS’s Sullivan & Son. I don’t have cable but I hear she’s pretty good on it.

Show reviews: King Tuff record release in-store at Amoeba; Hot Snakes, The Heartaches, and White Murder at Alex’s Bar

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It was a good omen when my daughter and I were walking to the market and saw a someone run across Glendale Boulevard from the coin-op car wash to the Laundromat. We followed him into the parking lot and when he exited we said, “King Tuff!” He responded, “Yeah! Didn’t I meet you at…”

This wasn’t the first time Eloise and I had stalked King Tuffy. We spotted him at the Art Book Fair at MOCA in the spring and asked for a photo then, too. Eloise is a huge fan of his self-titled Sub Pop debut and that was better than seeing Bigfoot. Back then, we asked him to play an all-ages show and thanks to the cosmic lattice of coincidence, we ran into him a day before his record release in-store at Amoeba. We told him we were stoked about the show and when Eloise was about to give a high five, Tuff gave her a hug and went back to wash the van in preparation for the band’s upcoming tour.

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I love taking Eloise to shows at Amoeba. There’s a lot of space so a little kid isn’t stuck looking at a bunch of grown-up asses and I’m not stuck carrying her the entire time. The shows start at 6:00 so it isn’t too late and they last about 30 minutes–just right for a young person’s attention span. The Amoeba crew is always super nice to Eloise and her cousins when they go, too, and usually give them stickers. Free earplugs, too, if we happen to forget their noise-cancelling headphones.

You know how a lot of parents go out buy kids music or baby versions of Beatles and Bob Marley songs? We never did that. The Ramones and AC/DC are pretty catchy, right? And we’ve taken Eloise and her cousins to many in-stores at Amoeba since they were small enough to be in carriers: Redd Kross, Shonen Knife, Dum Dum Girls, OFF!, Billy Bragg, Wayne Kramer, The Muffs… King Tuff was a great addition.

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The band always sounds more rockin’ live then on vinyl and last night’s show was no exception. They played about 8 or 9 songs–mostly off the brand-new, glow-in-the-dark album, which is full of swirls, hooks, and love. So good, and afterward we stood a short line to get our album signed. They drew pictures and were stoked to see Eloise and Mila, and you should definitely catch them on tour now.

There’s a chance the girls will grow up and like lame music. They’ll be informed by classmates instead of us and get into whatever happens to popular with their peers. And that would be fine. But the chances of the latter are smaller if she is exposed to DIY, indie, and punk that is played by down-to-earth people and has fun going out with Wendy and me.

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So I was okay with Eloise getting more than a little bummed when I went to the Hot Snakes show at Alex’s Bar without her last Thursday. But I explained that it would run too late for her to attend on a school night. And our first-grader doesn’t have a fake ID yet, anyway.

Alex’s Bar is way down in Long Beach but I will gladly drive down there for a show, especially when it’s an old-school punk band (CH3, The Crowd, Avengers, 7 Seconds…) or a RFTC-related group (I hear Speedo likes Joe Jost’s). It’s the opposite of trendy with the black light paintings on the wall, chains on the wallets, and hot rods in the parking lot. I think half the patrons have leopard-print strollers for their kids. Poseurs, the regulars are not.tuffy4

First up was White Murder, the pride of Long Beach.┬áVocalists Hanna and Marianne belt out double-fisted vocals punching their way out of timeless, out-of-control, riff-rocking punk. The energy and fun levels run at freakish levels, and there’s a sliver of danger in there, too.

Last time I saw them, they opened for T.S.O.L. and I was blown away by them that time, too. I was stoked to introduce myself to Marianne as Razorcake reader (the band’s record label is really a zine) and Perpetually Twelve contributor (they’re regulars in that zine), and then got to introduce her to Jack Grisham. How great are zines? How cool is life?

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The Heartaches were next, a band I didn’t know anything about. I thought the singer was going to poke someone’s eye out when he was waving half a mic stand around but never left the front because the songs were so catchy and good. They have buzz-saw hooks on the same level of Leatherface or Tiltwheel, but are darker and more garage rocking.

There’s a Belgian band out there with the same name and for all I know they’re great, too, but definitely check out and support the Heartbreaks from San Diego on Swami Records.

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Hot Snakes have been playing festivals across the country and we were lucky to see them at a great dive like Alex’s. As if the sold-out show wasn’t hot and crowded enough, both drummers showed up to contribute to the set, which didn’t end until well after 12:30. Rick Fork seemed to be ready to cut the set short because the conditions were so unsavory but the band kept coming back for encores.

We knew it we were in for a heavy night when one of The Heartaches (El Mano de Diablo?) perfectly lobbed a can of beer onto the back of Gar Wood’s head as he was setting up. In return, Wood came back with a bottle and crushed it over the Heartaches’ member’s hat!

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But the show went on and it was great. There’s nothing like the escalating riffs of Rick Fork and John Reis held down by Gar and tag-team drumming of Mario and Jason bringing the TNT and hammers, respectively. And with friends in the crowd from as far as San Diego and Santa Cruz, it was kind of like an epilogue to the Drive Like Jehu reunion a few weeks ago.

Love the noisy, heavy, and arty but fun vibe that couldn’t have come from Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, or anywhere else. It’s all San Diego.

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It was so hot and sweaty and unhygienic, and my ears were ringing for days afterward but it was worth it. See you this weekend at the Descendents/OFF! show in Pomona followed by ALL at Los Globos…

And Eloise? She’s out of luck until Save Music in Chinatown 4 with the reunion of The Bicycle Thief (Bob Forrest and Josh Klinghoffer), Evil Hearted You (following up their debut at X’s Make the Music Go Bang! fest), and My Revenge (with Hector Penalosa from The Zeros and Baja Bugs). But that will be worth the wait and worth her while. It’s a benefit we’re throwing for her school after all!

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All pics by me. Click on them to enlarge.

Show reviews: Adolescents and GBH at The Fonda, Stiff Little Fingers and GFP at the El Rey, White Dove and Drinking Flowers at Club Satellite

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I love the Adolescents and finally got a chance to hear songs from the new LP played live on Saturday when they opened for GBH at the Fonda. The Kelly Thomas-fueled cuts already demonstrated the Fullerton-spawned band to be darker and angrier than ever but honed by a European tour and a handful of opening gigs that I’ve missed until now, they’ve been polished into live punk perfection. That plus unbeatable songs like “No Way,” “Amoeba,” and “Kids From The Black Hole” book-ending the set makes for one killer gig. My friend and singer Tony Reflex commended the security for allowing the slam pit to go off, stating that the Ferguson cops could learn a thing or two from them.

This was the second time for me to see Charged GBH. Last time was at Fender’s in 1986 when my twin brother and I were scrawny Asian high school students in a sea of shirtless, sweaty, gigantic skinheads and Mohawks. How did we survive? This time I was stuck/safe in the balcony and could appreciate the flowing symmetry of the circle pit and nonstop stage diving from a Statler and Waldorf’s point of view. It still smelled lousy and sounded great! The original lineup played the entire Leather, Bristls, Studs, and Acne EP followed by hits like “Sick Boy,” “Big Women,” “Diplomatic Immunity,” and “City Baby Attacked by Rats”… Oi!

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The week before I got to see another legendary U.K. punk band, Stiff Little Fingers out of Belfast. Holy crap, they sounded amazing and played all the hits from “Suspect Device” to “Tin Soldiers” to “Straw Dogs.” They also pulled out some of their favorite covers, “Johnny Was” and “Doesn’t Make It Alright.” Jake Burns told a great story about how they not only stole the song from The Specials but released it first, too. He also told stories about being inspired by Joe Strummer, commiserating with Phil Lynott, overcoming depression… So many awesome songs and so many interesting stories from ye olden days of punk–but not so much as to bog down the evening.

Opening up was GFP, a new band with decades of L.A. punk lineage: Guitarist Greg Hetson from Bad Religion, Circle Jerks, and Red Cross, bassist Tony Alva of Dogtown and Alva skateboarding fame, drummer Joey Castillo from BL’AST!, and singer Crazy Tom Davis from DFL. They provided an interesting SoCal hardcore counterpoint to SLF’s European Spirit of ’77 style.

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In between, my pal Jack Long’s band White Dove played the Satellite. I can walk to the club from my house so how could I miss them? White Dove carries on the twisted punk roots tradition of L.A. bands like Gun Club and Flesheaters but filtered through the patient restraint of Mazzy Star or Opal. I love their song “Come on into Hell” and was stoked when they opened with it. Look for the band’s new 7″ single to start showing up at record stores soon…

Afterward, I stuck around for some Drinking Flowers and got into their psychedelic rock with surf riffs. A cool band that was having a lot of fun.

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So many more rad shows coming up, including Hot Snakes and White Murder at Alex’s Bar and then Descendents and OFF! at the Fox Theater. I’m extra excited about taking my six-year-old daughter to see King Tuff at Amoeba Hollywood next week. Eloise loves his last album from beginning to end, and is going to tear it up in the aisles. And then there’s the Save Music in Chinatown benefit that my wife and I are throwing next month, but that deserves its own post(s)…

Reintroduction

SLF at the El Rey (September 3, 2014)
SLF at the El Rey (September 3, 2014)

I remember when Eric introduced blogs to the Giant Robot website. I didn’t think I had much to share, but in his estimation I did enough interesting things people would want to read about. I’m still not sure if that’s been the case, but it is pretty fun writing outside of the magazine format.

Even after the mag stopped publishing in 2010, I kept up my GR blog. Pictures from punk shows, zine and movie reviews, an occasional Q&A with an artist, and recaps of gatherings like Comic-Con and Agenda–the best parts have always been simply sharing the rad stuff that my friends do.

However, even as I type this, giantrobot.com is being rebuilt as a more dedicated retail site. My blog there will be on the cutting-room floor.

Since the the rad stuff keeps coming, I’m going to continue blogging on this site. Less art, more rock. Less cool stuff and more crap about being a dad. Doesn’t that sound awful? We’ll see how it goes.

Please read, share, and let me know what you think.