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!

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Dengue Fever record release party at Sophy’s

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When Dengue Fever was born as an L.A. band that painstakingly and lovingly played covers of classic Cambodian psychedelic rock songs, who knew that they would still be on an upward creative trajectory after more than a dozen years? Or that the original lineup–including genuine Khmer superstar singer Chhom Nimol and local musicians with a stellar collective experience in other indie and DIY groups–would remain intact? Perhaps it’s because Dengue Fever was assembled on a crazy whim, united by friendship and a shared love for an obscure and nearly extinct but 100 percent fun style of music that is built upon mutation, experimentation, and cross breeding.

I’ve been sucked into their latest effort, The Deepest Lake, for more than a week now and it’s their strongest work yet–the most original in terms of new songs and sounds but perhaps closest to their much-loved debut’s tight focus and pure, joyful rock ‘n’ roll. The first song, “To Kay,” has the band’s heaviest groove yet–right up there with Massive Attack and Led Zeppelin. And what’s up with “No Sudden Moves”? Nimol has always sounded like an otherworldly angel or alien from outer space to me, but on that track she reels off rapid-fire vitriol like a pissed-off Rosie Perez in Do The Right Thing. Holy cow, that’s just the first two cuts…

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I got to know the band right after I heard their demo on KXLU while I was in my car, called the station to find out who was playing such glorious music when I reached my destination, and got Senon’s phone number from the DJ (who said that the bass player probably wouldn’t mind). I met all of them at Dragon House, the Cambodian nightclub where the Ethan and Zac discovered Nimol, and ended up running Dengue Fever’s first piece of press in Giant Robot mag. We’ve stayed in touch ever since and, lately, I’ve seen them at kiddie birthday parties as much as I’ve said hi to them at their shows. So how could I not attend last night’s record release party at Sophy’s, their favorite Cambodian restaurant?

When my friend Paul and I arrived, most of the band was sitting in a booth and scarfing food. So we grabbed another booth and hung out with my friend Josh, who happens to be their manager, P.R. guy, fellow L.A. Kings fan, and co-founder of the Fun Lovers Unite! movement. Awesome food, awesome people. Paul, Senon, and Zac eventually came over to hang out and we talked more about our kids than the new album. Because that’s what parents do when they go out without their families.

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There was a merch table. The Deepest Lake was available on baby blue- and beer-colored wax, and there was all sorts of new gear from shirts to kromas to a brand-new mix tape from Burger. Pledge Music supporters like me could pick up our rewards so the band could save on postage costs and fill up the gas tank on their upcoming tour. All of the members were there to take pictures, sign autographs, and hold babies. Totally informal and totally cool.

I thought it was going to be a quick hang with old friends but I wound up staying for an unannounced, informal, acoustic concert for 40 or 50 friends, family members, and die-hard fans in the restaurant’s banquet room. Rad! They played four or five songs in the sweaty, dark, echoing shoebox of a room that culminated in everyone circle dancing to “To Kay.” I totally thought someone was going to slip and get hurt on the somewhat greasy and slick floor, but there were nothing but smiling faces afterward. What a party.

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Next week, the band embarks on a trip up the coast and there are a few more tours to follow. Get to know the new jams and then check out dates and ticketing denguefevermusic.com. If you go to The Echoplex, I’ll seeya there!