Save Music in Chinatown 18 with The Gears, Gitane Demone Quartet, Marriage Material, The Castelalas, and The Linda Lindas, plus murals at Castelar!

At the tail end of six years and eighteen Save Music in Chinatown all-ages matinees to raise money for Castelar Elementary’s music program, you’d think we’d have it all figured out. Paying tribute to the neighborhood’s old Hong Kong Cafe, where The Bags, Weirdos, X, Black Flag, Germs, and Go-Go’s played during L.A.’s first wave of punk, check. Killer bake sale and cool raffle, check. Exposing kids who can handle it to DIY culture and seeing some of them even form a band, check. The project that Wendy and I started with inspiration from our daughter Eloise and help from our friend Nate has outlived our expectations, become a small but loyal community, and exceeded our dreams. Check out the insane list of L.A. punk legends who have become friends: Adolescents, Alice Bag, Phranc, The Dils, Channel Three, The Crowd, Mike Watt…

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Just two weekends ago, how lucky were we to have The Gears play for us a second time, lugging their gear up and down the long red stairway to help out the kids of Chinatown and bringing along their new guitarist and our old friend Rikk Agnew, too. And if you weren’t moved by seeing a mob of little kids knowing exactly what to do when the pride of Glassell Park played “Don’t Be Afraid To Pogo,” off their essential 7″ single that was released 40 years ago during the first wave of L.A. punk… Well, you were probably attending the wrong show.

I was reminded that we grownups are just as lucky as the youngsters by my friend Bert, who was from visiting from Scotland and remarked that he only dreamed of seeing The Gears when he was a punker growing up and playing in bands in Washington, DC.  The Gears are one of those legendary L.A. punk bands that never toured or gained as much attention as they deserved, and we gotta see them every chance we get! You never know when when they’ll play the last chord–I thought it was last year.

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Our co-headliner was The Gitane Demone Quartet, featuring members of Christian Death and Screamers. The all-star death rock combo didn’t lighten up their set one bit for a rare appearance in broad daylight and actually ended it by dedicating “Eva Braun” and “We Must Bleed” to the punks! I am super proud that the children at our shows don’t need cleaned-up Kidz Bop versions of rock songs, and can handle gnarly tributes by lifers from L.A.’s underground.

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Special thanks to Rikk Agnew, who plays in both The Gears and GDQ. He was into the idea of playing the double-header for the cause right from the beginning, and helped recruit both bands to volunteer their time and noise. Please don’t tell anyone that Rikk is not only a survivor and a legend of the L.A. punk scene but also a softie!

Marriage Material went on first, and I asked them to play because most of them would have attended as friends and supporters anyway. Also, I hadn’t seen them since Jenae began lending her vocals and holy crap! How did they get even more punk? And will we ever get to buy their awesome second EP on wax? Check them out! And subscribe to RazorCake!

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I would like to thank the grownup performers for allowing the bands featuring children go last. They really should have gone on first, but one member of The Linda Lindas had dance rehearsals that afternoon and another was in the middle of ninth grade finals! The Castelalas made a guest appearance right before them and, after raising money for Castelar’s music program for years, it was pretty awesome to have a band with third, fourth, and fifth graders from the school taught by their awesome music teacher, Matt Brundrett. Eloise formed the Castelalas to play a talent show and, after practicing for months, they were too much fun not to ask them to play again.

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As for The Linda Lindas, I have a feeling that when it’s all over our Save Music in Chinatown shows will be nothing but a trivia answer that only their hardest core fans know. Eloise went from being mascot to flyer artist to guest singer to member of the band with her cousins Lucia and Mila and their friend Bela. How cool is it these girls have not only had a blast playing super-fun garage rock covers of punk ‘n’ roll, but have shared our Chinatown stage with the  likes of Phranc, Channel 3, Alley Cats, and The Dils? And now The Gears and GDQ!

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Maybe some of you saw The Linda Lindas with Best Coast and Money Mark at the Jackie Rocks! benefit in February. Or open for Bikini Kill at the Palladium in April. Or have tickets to the sold-out show with Bleached in July or their date with Alice Bag in August. If we’re lucky, they’ll come back to play in Chinatown again. It’s been as amazing as it was unplanned and unexpected to see them grow in the space that we have carved out, forming a multigenerational underground with first wave punks.

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While The Linda Lindas and Castelalas represented a youth movement, there was also an art component added to our latest Save Music in Chinatown weekend. For the last several years, my friend Erik Caruso has been attending our benefit concerts for Castelar and Wendy and I have been attending the year-end art shows and noise jams that he has been organizing at Harry Wirtz Elementary in Paramount, where he teaches. This year, Erik set it up so our efforts would finally join forces.

Erik’s project entails optional contemporary art lessons and projects for fifth graders throughout the school year, capped off by an art show featuring student work and pieces by contemporary artists who participate via video or attend in person, and a noise jam with artists, many of whom are musicians, and guest players. This time around, Tim Kerr, Mike Watt, Randy Randall, Ray Barbee, Mark Waters, Hagop Najarian, and others played “Minor Threat,” and Ian MacKaye even sent a video message to Erik and the students.


For years, Erik had the artists paint murals at his school as well, but lately he has been bringing artists to other schools and Castelar was this year’s destination. It was cool getting to hang out with Erik and the artists, a lot of old friends and now some new ones. Many of the crew were able to attend the Save Music in Chinatown show and most returned to Castelar a couple of mornings later to field questions from students about the murals. That provided an occasion for one more performance by The Castelalas, and it was a thrilling revelation to see so many students having their minds blown by cool art and music. While I don’t foresee our punk rock matinees turning into kiddie shows, I hope more children in Chinatown will be open to enjoying loud music, forming bands, and getting into DIY culture in general.

Not more than half a year ago, we thought that this could have been our last show with Eloise completing fifth grade. But it turns out Castelar will be adding a sixth grade next year. And then a seventh and eight grade after that! So unless the shows stop being fun, we’ll keep organizing them–especially since it looks like education and the arts won’t stop being underfunded any time soon. Hope to see you in the fall.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByY3gGdFWuuj3jxYMYahsu9uIRe7SQajm44fxA0/

Let’s pretend we’re Marriage Material: Primo garage punk from three brothers behind RazorCake and Golden Beat

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In this modern age of Netflix and chilling, I’m proud to say that I know at least three humans who are committed to antiquated-yet-tangible entertainment such as the 7-inch EP (I took all the pics at the super-fun record release show at Cafe NELA last month) and ye olde art of being in a garage punk band. Andrew Material, Daryl Material, and Sean Material (bass, guitar, and drums, respectively, with all of them taking stabs of various sizes at vocals) are indeed Marriage Material, and their band is as raw as it is fun.

Side One of Making The Worry Worth It Pt. 1 sorta has the tag-team vocals of Dillinger Four and no-holds-barred energy of live Rocket From The Crypt, and perhaps resembles long-lost tapes of some of your other favorite bands before they were “good.” Don’t tell the guys that I think Side Two sounds a little like an early Rancid or Downfall demo. (A compliment!) I would look up the song titles but the sleeve is blank and you can’t read a record’s label when it is spinning.

In a tiny room steaming with pizza, comics, and cats, I met with the band of brothers that proudly carries on the musical tradition of the Everlys, Ramones, and Nomeansno but clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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Martin: On the heels of a triumphant first year—being invited to Awesome Fest, receiving an honorary degree from Vince Lombardi High School, putting out a killer 7” single, and playing a jam-packed party at Cafe NELA—what can possibly be planned for Marriage Material’s second year?
Daryl: I’m looking forward to buying more Instagram followers. I mean, at $20 for 2,500 it seems kinda foolish not to.

Sean: I’m looking forward to learning how to drum. But I might put that off until 2020.

Andrew: A couple practices. And we are recording a song that my 5-year-old nephew, Joey, wrote. It’s called “Yeah Yeah I’m A Weirdo”

Martin: As contributors to a magazine and recording studio, all of you cross paths with so many amazing bands. Is that inspiring or humbling? Depressing?
Daryl: There’s nothing better than the three of getting together and making fun of all the bands we don’t like. Hey, the bands that I love might not always be good, but at least they aren’t boring.

Sean: Yeah, we usually sit around making fun of Marriage Material.

Andrew: As a studio owner I find it inspiring to work with lots of great local bands and to play music with two of my heroes: Jenae Material and Daryl Material. Who’s this Sean guy that keeps answering questions?

Martin: Have you found it handy that each of you can pretty much give fellow members lessons on their instruments? Or too ridiculous to think about?
Daryl: Not ridiculous at all, I actually taught Sean how to play the drums and Andrew how to play the bass.

Sean: Yeah, Daryl was like, “Just hit things really fast and hard with drumsticks.” That was an invaluable lesson because I thought you drummed with your hands and elbows.

Andrew: I can’t teach anyone shit, unless it’s about the Marvel Cinematic Universe or cats.


Martin: Which character in the Marvel Universe does each of you relate to? Which ones do you relate to your bandmates?

Daryl: [stares blankly at Martin]

Andrew: I relate to Cap and Black Widow. I think Sean is Thanos, and Daryl is Baby Groot.

Sean: Andrew is right; I am the most like Thanos because I like to wear colorful rings.

Martin: Would you rather have a reserved seat in Hall H or have a cabana at Coachella?
Daryl: All I want is $20 to buy more Instagram followers.

Andrew: What is Hall H? I’ve never been to a Coachella or been in a cabana, so I’d choose to let Daryl spend his $20 on Internet followers.

Sean: Wait. Daryl spent $20 on Instagram followers?

Martin: Back to the band, are you ready for your first long tour? How will this challenge your somewhat established and copacetic relationship? What will you do with your pets?
Sean: All my pets will be on tour with me. Their names are Andrew and Daryl

Andrew: I have seven cats so I’m not ready to leave them, but Daryl said I could bring home three cats from tour so I’m ready for that. And Sean said he’d brush me at least once a day. And Daryl said he can deal with my snoring because he farts and snores simultaneously. Also, I’m gonna be using Sean’s phone all tour to text Jenae since my phone doesn’t work.

Daryl: Life hack: don’t get pets, just get roommates with pets so you can leave town and not have to think about what to do with them. As for our relationship on the road, as long as Sean doesn’t finish my Sudoku, and Andrew stops talking to me about the MCU, we’ll be fine.

Martin: Are you really marriage material?
Daryl: More than you’ll ever know, Martin. more than you’ll ever know.

Andrew: I’m barely “dating material.” But I do have a girlfriend I want to marry and I’m divorced, so… yes?

Sean: Doubt it. I’ve asked both Daryl and Andrew to marry me more than once and they turned me down.

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Check out Marriage Material on a West Coast Tour in May and look into their brand-new tour T-shirt pre-order action, too. I’ve owned a Redd Kross shirt featuring Linda Blair and Killing Joke shirt with a pope being sieg heiled by Nazis), but neither is as badass as a Howard Zinn getting busted design!