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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Cool shows: The Dream Syndicate, Mike Watt & The Secondmen, Baja Bugs, King Tuff, TV on the Radio

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Cleaning out the SD card and airing out some of the better photos before they are banished to the hard drive. Above: The Dream Syndicate freaking out at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014).

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Froth at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014). They opened for The Dream Syndicate and were kind of like Phaseshifter-era Redd Kross with more droning.

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The Dream Syndicate at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014). So noisy, so refined, such perfect songwriting and execution by the self-described “just a punk band from L.A.”

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The Dream Syndicate at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014). Key songs: When You Smile, Tell Me When It’s Over, Halloween, Medicine Show, That’s What You Always Say, Days of Wine and Roses.

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Backbiter at Cafe NELA (November 21, 2014). The Raji’s regulars ended their sludgy-but-never-dragging set with a badass cover of “Kick Out The Jams.”

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Mike Watt & The Secondmen at Cafe NELA (November 21, 2014). Loved their Echoplex set earlier in the week, but this one was much cozier and heavier and they played “The Red and the Black”! Afterward, I handed them flyers and said thanks for the next Save Music in Chinatown show that they’re playing…

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Neverland Ranch Davidians at Cafe NELA (November 21, 2014). Stripped-down, and sweaty punkabilly trio led by Tex Mosley.

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Baja Bugs at Rebecca’s in South Park (November 8, 2014). Saw our pal Hector Penalosa (My Revenge, The Zeros) play with his ripping early Beatles band at a benefit for cats and dogs. So much fun, such a great guy.

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Colleen Green and La Sera at the El Rey (November 6 2014). Perfect openers for King Tuff’s homecoming show. Musically cool as a cucumber and sweet as sunshine, respectively.

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King Tuff at the El Rey (November 6 2014). Recently saw KT at Amoeba (and the car wash) but had to see him again in a full-on concert. The new album is awesome and his live show is a blast.

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TV on the Radio at the Fonda (November 22, 2014). After digging TVOTR at the massive Hollywood Bowl a couple of times, I got to preview the band’s great new songs in a theater. Instant classics along with old favorites, and later I got to meet the great Kyp Malone from Jon Moritsugu’s Scumrock, too. But that’s another story for another post…

Fun Lovers United: Mike Watt & The Secondmen, Jenny Lewis, Sarah Silverman, Tim Heidecker, Neil Hamburger, and more…

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I’ll gladly pay to see Mike Watt play anytime, anywhere, with any configuration of his kick-ass musician friends, but throw in a special set by Jenny Lewis and then add a gang of top-shelf comedians on top of that? Damn. On top of that, the Fun Lovers Unite! show was a benefit organized by my friend Josh Mills and his pal Maccabbee Montandon, inspired by the memory of the former’s brother. Asher Montandon was shot and killed for no reason in the summer of 1992, planting the seeds for them to start the Fun Lovers Unite! fund-raising concert and awareness campaign to promote more sensible gun laws.

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Once I got through the line that snaked down Glendale Boulevard and entered the sold-out Echoplex, I immediately ran into Josh (above, with me) and told the human being how proud I was of him and Mac (above, right). People get outraged all the time. But how many actually do anything? And if they do, is it close to being this awesome?

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Shannon Watts from Moms Demand Action (above, top right) was present to describe her organization’s cause and thank us ticket purchasers and the bands for supporting them. Emcee duties were handled by the self-deprecating-to-the-point-of-being-paranoid comedian and writer–not to be confused with the MMA fighter with the same name–Ali MacLean (above, bottom right), and first up was the 12-string, take-it-easy atmosphere of The Everyday Visuals (above, left).

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I was there to see Mike Watt & The Secondmen, who were fresh off a 53-gig tour supporting their latest mind-blowing opus of post punk, post jazz, and all rocking rhythm and heaviness, Il Sogno del Marinaio. Although the masterfully ripping set was sort of a homecoming, the fresh faces in front seemed to be camping out for Jenny Lewis. Even so, Watt and crew never hold back one iota from their utmost musical potential when they’re onstage, whether it’s at a packed venue, in a backyard, or in front of a sea of future fans. So satisfying, every time.

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Jenny Lewis kicked off her special appearance with “Just One of the Guys” before busting out a couple of Watson Twins collabs and then an acoustic Rilo Kiley song. I’m actually not super familiar with Lewis’s catalog, but it’s obvious that she is a consummate musician and commanding performer and her fans were totally freaking out. How cool to check her out close up for a solid cause.

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I don’t know much about comedy, either, but the 20-minute sets that followed were funnier than shit. Kurt Braunohler (above, left) explained why he’s going to hell and Sarah Silverman (above, right) described her summertime survey asking straight, male, God-fearing audience members across the country if they would let Him come in their mouths. Meanwhile, Tim Heidecker (below, left) had a harder time picking up the microphone than Soap-on-a-Rope and Neil Hamburger (below, right) revealed the secret history of the Echoplex. (Two words: Marcel Marceau.)

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And just like that the show was over, leaving an empty stage with puddles of sweat and drink spilled by America’s Funnyman in front of a bunch of smiling people. The topic of more sensible gun laws was never actually addressed head-on by the performers, and that was fine with me. The idea of simply surviving and having fun is the best argument, after all, and Josh and Mac conveyed that perfectly in their first Fun Lovers Unite! benefit gig. Can’t wait to see who they line up for the next one…

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Join the Fun Lovers Unite! group on Facebook for more coverage and information on future shows…