Save Music in Chinatown 8, before and after

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Save Music in Chinatown 8 took place a couple of weeks ago at the Grand Star, but it feels like just happened.  Seeing The Crowd at Fitzgerald’s in Huntington Beach (above) and Bad Cop/Bad Cop in Pomona (below) last weekend might have something to do with that. Bands take note: If you thought I went to a lot of your shows before you played one of our benefits, you won’t be getting rid of me afterward.

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But back to Save Music in Chinatown 8. Placing flyers at record stores and on friends’ refrigerators all over town and posting about the shows incessantly on Facebook–you never know when one thing will actually lead to another. After writing about our gig with the Adolescents, Gears, and Watt, Dennis Walsh commented, “Why haven’t The Crowd played one of these shows?” I asked him to introduce me and he replied, “I’m the drummer!”

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I’d already been stalking The Crowd for years and started saying hi to Dennis whenever they’d play Alex’s Bar. But then last summer, I saw him hanging out with Channel Three (above) and BC/BC (blurry and below) who just played with the Adolescents and Weirdos at the Roxy. The right place, the right time, just like the song goes. We agreed that it would be rad if The Crowd, FourEyedFour (another one of Dennis’s bands), and BC/BC played for us.

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All the bands were as awesome as they were nice. Bombón (who I immediately contacted after seeing them play a RazorCake show at Pehrspace) pulled aside their last kid-sized cat shirt for Eloise and made everyone smile and dance with their DIY surf sounds. FourEyedFour sounded as amazing as their self-released CD, really smart and slightly psychedelic pop with a ton of punch.

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Bad Cop/Bad Cop are a dynamite live band with massive hooks, killer harmonies, and so much upside. It’s a good thing we got them right before they took off for Europe to tour with Snuff… (Aaron Brown, a member of the BC/BC gang as well as an old friend, made an animalistic rock ‘n’ roll flyer for us, too.)

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The Crowd’s set was raging and full of angst and slurred lyrics and banter, and could have taken place at a dive bar instead of an afternoon matinee. And I thought it was great. Our idea has always been to have all-ages shows that kids attend but never to have kiddie shows. How great were the legendary Beach Blvd. and ROTR Vol. 1 comp contributors and how cool was it to have Tony Cadena sing “Liberty” with them? Yet another great Tony moment at Save Music in Chinatown to file away…

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When Eloise started attending Castelar Elementary as a kindergartner, Wendy and I had no idea we would start organizing benefit concerts or that we would be doing it this long. But with help from parents who run the bake sale, friends who donate to the raffle, and all the selfless bands who volunteer to play for us, we can not only help keep the defunded music program going but start a scene. How cool is it to build on the legacy of the old Hong Kong Café and Madame Wong’s? How great it it for kids to be included?

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And now that Eloise is a big second grader, she has become more involved in our shows than ever. In addition to making a flyer, she introduced all the bands, danced in the front row for all of them, and even chose records to play on our friend Daryl’s KCHUNG radio program to promote the show.

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Sometimes I stress about our shows not getting enough attention (what part of punk matinees with a bake sale to help kids in Chinatown isn’t awesome?) or big enough crowds for the bands (the lineups are way too good for our humble venue). But in the end they’re always perfect: nothing but old and new friends and family. Hope to see you at the next one in the spring.

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Save Music in Chinatown 8 preview/interview with Eloise

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Making sure students at an inner-city public school get music education is a worthy enough reason to put on shows, but my wife Wendy and I think it’s important that children are able to attend and participate as well. It’s awesome that our second-grade daughter sees bands carry their own gear into a small venue and play their hearts out for us.

Eloise is also exposed to DIY culture, and has made and distributed flyers and posters, gone on radio shows to promote the cause, and contributed to a zine as well. Lately, she’s been talking about forming a band with her cousins or friends and playing one of the shows. I told her that will require a lot of work before it can happen, but for now she can help out with a short Q&A…

Why should people go to Save Music in Chinatown 8?
Because it helps raise money for the music program at my school. And it has awesome bands and a yummy bake sale. But if you can’t handle loud music, stay home and chill.

Tell me more about the music.
It’s loud and rocking!

But can you dance to it?
Yes, it’s very easy to dance to. Don’t be afraid to pogo!

Isn’t that a Gears song?
Yeah!

They were so great at our sixth show. Who are some of your other favorite bands that have played for us?
Dengue Fever, California, Baja Bugs, Adolescents, Upset, Bob Forrest and the Bicycle Thief–I love them all. I could tell that even the calm ones were really feeling it. They’re all so cool and nice. I look forward to Bombón, The Crowd, FourEyedFour, and Bad Cop/Bad Cop.

Got any favorite Crowd songs that you want to hear at the upcoming show?
“Right Time” and “Hear it on the Radio.” I also hope Bombón plays “La Playa”!

 

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Tell me about the flyer you made for the show.
I love drawing and I love making posters for Save Music in Chinatown. I get to draw monster cats, cats playing guitar, or even Bruce Lee holding a guitar.

Where did you get the idea for the Bruce Lee artwork?
I know that a lot of people in Chinatown love him.

Do you like him?
I love him, too. He’s cool and there’s a statue of him outside the Grand Star. I want to take pictures with the bands there, but it will be after the show because I don’t want to miss any music!

Do you think that enough kids attend our shows?
No, because the only ones I see are my friends and cousins.

I kinda like how I see so many friends and family at the shows.
But other people should go, too!

But wouldn’t kids rather  be watching videos on YouTube or going to Disney on Ice or something instead of checking out a punk rock show?
No way! That’s lame. You should be listening to awesome music and dancing around with friends.

Any tips for young people who are going for the first time?
They should buy earplugs from us. They’re only a dollar and all of the money we make goes to our school.

What are some other bands you’d like to see play our show in the future?
The Go-Go’s, Shonen Knife, Dum Dum Girls, X, AC/DC, Redd Kross, and OFF!

Anything else you want to add?
See you in the pit, but don’t get run over!

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Clockwise from top left: Rachel Haden, Upset, Nimol from Dengue Fever and Tony from Adolescents

Get the latest info on Save Music in Chinatown 8 from the Facebook event page and save some dough by getting advance tickets via Eventbrite.

Save Music in Chinatown 8 preview with Jennie from Bad Cop/Bad Cop

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BC/BC at the Redwood (January 23, 2015)

As soon as my pal Aaron told me his girlfriend was in a punk band called Bad Cop/Bad Cop, I became obsessed with them, tracked down their 7″ singles, went to most of their local shows, and tried to get them to play a bunch of our Save Music in Chinatown benefits. For one reason or another, it never worked out and I started to wonder if I missed the boat as they got signed to Fat, went on the road with NOFX, and planned a European tour with Snuff.

But in the meantime I discovered that I had all these mutual friends of the band. In fact, the guys in The Crowd actually had BC/BC play one of their songs on a tribute record! Talk about a perfect doubleheader waiting to happen–and it will happen on January 31 at the Grand Star. (It was a triple header with Channel Three at Alex’s a couple of months ago…)

I asked Jennie just a few questions as the all-ages matinee which will also feature FourEyedFour and Bombón draws nearer…

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Blurry night at the Roxy with Jennie and Aaron (July 25, 2015)

Bad Cop/Bad Cop had a great 2015, releasing a full-length LP, playing the coolest fests, and going on tour with bands like NOFX. Why are you playing a little benefit like ours?
The kids. All of us needed a creative outlet at one point and are very aware of the way music can change or save lives. The arts have so much to offer: giving nonacademic minds a chance to excel and focus, an opportunity to explore and control something (which can be rare for young people), a means of connecting and communicating with others, a vocabulary for personal expression…

From a public mental health standpoint, art and music therapy are super effective. Even limited exposure to the arts can be helpful, and nurturing those interests can have a huge positive impact on a person’s life. It’s hard to watch arts and music getting muscled out of school programming, and we want to help where we can.

Bad Cop/Bad Cop has played with The Crowd before and has even contributed a song to the recent tribute compilation. Can you tell me about your relationship with that band?
We met Dennis while filling in for somebody at Alex’s Bar. He was going to invite the band we were subbing for to be on his comp, and asked he us instead! Recording was a blast, and we really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of that project. He’s so supportive and enthusiastic, and we’ve gotten to be very good friends.

Were you a fan of the band growing up?
The Beach Blvd. comp is something that I learned about later as a tourist. It didn’t make it to Detroit, or at least not into my hands. Plus, I was born in 1982. But as a fellow outsider its significance is impressive.

Have you played in Chinatown or gone to punk shows there before? I think it’s rad how the Grand Star is right next to the Hong Kong Café and Madame Wong’s, and wonder if you’ve had any experiences or takes on them as well.
Unfortunately, I grew up in the Midwest and came to this coast with a separate set of nostalgic experiences. But I am a forever a tourist, and am always excited to visit and play important places!

Get the latest info on Save Music in Chinatown 8 from the Facebook event page and save some dough by getting advance tickets via Eventbrite.

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Photo dump with Dengue Fever, RFTC, Haden Triplets, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Obscurer, Telecaves, Marky Ramone, Chain And The Gang…

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How cow, Dengue Fever’s new songs sounded great last night at The Echoplex. They played a really heavy, groovy, and wild 90 minutes and when did Chhom Nimol become Tina Turner anyway? I was extra stoked when, after the set list ran out, they took a request for “Cement Slippers” because it’s cool to see Paul get to unload on the drums.

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Saw so many friends at the show… Fredo was supposed to play percussion but had a recording gig that ended in time to attend the show. Bill Bear made the trip, too. Earlier, Wendy and Eloise came out for the all-ages sound check–a sneak preview for my non-nocturnal family of the band’s Amoeba Hollywood appearance on March 1 and any other matinee that happens to come up after that. See them on tour now!

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More shows… Rocket from the Crypt played two nights at Alex’s Bar to celebrate the Long Beach institution’s 15th anniversary. They didn’t go on until midnight but played a long and totally raging set. What a bash!

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Openers included fellow San Diego rockers Creepy Creeps, who were kinda like a mixture of The Mummies and The Munsters TV show theme. So much entertainment value, purportedly filmed for a video.

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The night before I went to see the Haden Triplets play a benefit for TIOH. Absolutely perfect–and that’s just the siblings’ banter. I’d seen the sisters play with various bands from That Dog to Susannah Hoffs but never together. Never seen seats at an Echoplex show, either.

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Some cool sightings there, too, in addition to Jack Black (above). The first dudes I saw when I walked up to the club’s entrance were Adam Pfahler (Black Ball Records, Jawbreaker, California The Band) and Chris Ashford (What? Records, Iloki Records, Wondercap Records). Both of them are good friends and huge supporters of the Save Music in Chinatown cause, to boot.

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I happened to be in Long Beach the day when Dengue Fever had a record release party at Sophy’s in Little Cambodia. How could I miss it? First they hung out with fans and then they played a surprise acoustic set in a private room. Sweet! Go buy the excellent record already.

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Pizza Wolf’s Harry Jerkface constructed quite a stacked bill at the Redwood two Fridays ago–a rad mix of current punks from SoCal and veterans of the East Bay’s Gilman St. scene: Turkish Techno, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Kepi Ghoulie, Dr. Frank from The Mr. T Experience, and (of course) Pizza Wolf. Proud of myself for not only getting there fairly early but staying for the whole damn thing.

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Thanks to Aaron and Jennie for inspiring me get out of the house and go to the show! Looking forward to seeing his artwork (and merch table skills) and hearing her awesome band Bad Cop Bad Cop (and their new songs) more often in the future.

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Human Resources backbone and Save Music in Chinatown key contributor Grant Capes threw a killer birthday party for himself at the Chinatown art gallery/noise venue before that. His band Obscurer played, followed by Telecaves and CVI. It kinda reminded me of being a college student, going to industrial or goth clubs like White Trash a Go Go or Scream, and being freaked out by a totally different world.

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It wasn’t a show, but I attended Marky Ramone’s booksigning at Vroman’s. He had an excellent Q&A with one of the editors at RazorCake (a zine that I love, but not quite enough to recognize every contributor) and then spent a decent amount of time with each and every fan in line. He and I talked about the Halfway To Sanity and Brain Drain tours and gushed about listening to records in a dedicated chair in front of speakers (or even on a car’s tape deck) instead of on a computer. A real cool dude and badass drummer, and his book is a must for any Ramones fan.

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Just one more set of show pics to dump from my SD card before backing everything up onto the hard drive, and what a doozy. I’ve always loved any band with Ian Svenonious, from Nation of Ulysses to Cupid Car Club to The Make Up (never saw Weird War) and Chain & The Gang is no exception. So stripped down and so brilliant. Openers Sex Stains are always cool, too!

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Coming up: Watt in Long Beach, Adolescents at Amoeba, a free King Tuff show, and LPIII’s new band. Maybe more? Seeya there!