Sorry I didn’t do this when it was fresh in my mind. Been busy and there was a national holiday to deal with as well. What an adventure! I’m going to kick it LiveJournal style now. I went out there with nothing really planned except the incredible oppurtunity to crash on the floor of my friend Adesh’s room at the Standard Downtown. We decided to rent a car, because people apparently drive in LA, but the super budget car rental place had no GPS, so most of the trip involved me yelling at Adesh and telling him his iPhone’s GPS was junk. We got to town, I ate some tacos the size of my head at the Grand Central Market, complained about eating too much for a while then went to Amoeba, where I didn’t end up buying any records but I tried to convince some dude to buy some Cabaret Voltaire 7″s for 10 bucks eachâ€”you cannot pay too much money for copies of Extended Play and Silent Command. Ran into Mahssa and thought I was back in NYC. Went back to the hotel, hung out with Dahlia and took a nap. Woke up and Adesh was too busy hanging out with A Certain Ratio at the Standard’s roof pool so I went over to the Echo by myself. Met Michael from Part Time Punks and Benny Shambles who I knew from Go Go Go Airheart playing in NYC, and Scarlet from Hang the DJs. Pop Noir and Adult. played. Adult. was way more industrial then they used to be and I missed the neo-italo new wave of the electroclash days. Rico from The Lines showed up to say hello then at the end of the night after Dirty Dave and Franki Chan loudly rocked the kids with their serato sets I got to DJ. Of course I only brought CDs and they didn’t have CDJs set up and their computers were about 100x louder then my CDs so when I opened with Perfect Kiss it sounded terrible but enough of me making DJ excuses. That’s my new DJ name, btw, DJ Excuses. So after the club closed at 2 we went to what looked like a cool old diner but was really a total hipster hangout called Brite Spot or something and we sat next to the singer from Veruca Salt, a real L.A. moment. It was 2am LA time, so 5am NYC time, which is what time I’d usually end up at the diners of NY (Odessa, or Veselka), so all was right, even if I had 2 hours of sleep the night before.
Went over early to catch ACR’s soundcheck. The rest of the day was spent running up and down the stairs checking out bands and working the merch table where I sold 9 Acute CDs. Was re-introduced to Jessica Espeleta of E.S.P.S. who I had met years ago in NYC. Ran into original Dazzle Ships bartender Brion Paul, who still has my Norman Mclaren DVD, but I’ve got his copy of Jubilee. Victor who played Lines singles for me in SF last year at his Teenage Kicks party, ILXor and blogger Bimble, Don from the old Don’s Records in Brooklyn, Brody from the Plant Bar days, DJ Rob, my old LiveJournal friend Elena and others were all there. And to think I thought I wouldn’t know anybody, a stranger from NY in a stranger land (LA).
I didn’t see all the bands. I saw Magic Bullets who make a suitably powerful slightly twee Postcard Records style indie-pop with a singer who’s a bit too Morrissey. I saw What’s Your Rupture? signees Nodzzz, who were good simple rock and they had a sense of humor. I saw Grimble Grumble do a classic droned out space rock thing, felt like 96 all over again, they even covered It’s a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl. I saw a bit of Warpaint do some sort of tribal rock and the Vivian Girls for a few seconds playing their c86 girl-group sound. I read an interview with them where they talk about being influenced by the Shangri-Las and never having heard the Shop Assistants. They sounded great, better then the one time I’d seen them before. Love is All as well. I always wonder when bands start to hit bigger stages whether they’ll benefit or suffer. Some bands, especially punk bands, need that intimacy and energy of a small room. But both Vivian Girls and Love is All were great and went over swimmingly. I did not see the Muslims, who sound pretty cool. Nervous Gender was some old-school industrial and Medium Medium and Pylon were both dependably great though I didn’t get too pay too much attention. I totally missed Savage Republic and Softboiled Eggies, to much regret.
Onto my pet faves.
Wild Stares were awesome. I didn’t really know what to expect. I first heard them on a Hyped2Death comp and later found a few of the records here and there. They started out in Boston with releases on the seminal Boston punk/post-punk label Propeller, spent some time in Europe and eventually settled in LA where they’re all involved in tons of projects. Vocalist/gtrist Steve Gregoropoulos is a producer well known on the scene and a member of Lavender Diamond. While they were playing I spoke to some LA kids who couldn’t believe what they were seeing, not expecting Steve to rock out like he did, I suppose. They’re a hard band to describe with their own sound. It’s a noisy post-punk, angular and aggressive and chaotic. They use a drum machine and some electronics to good effect. They did a furious version of one of my favorite songs, Piece of the Picture, which Steve was kind enough to let me share here.
Wild Stares-Piece of the Picture
control-click to download
Before they played, I was DJing between bands and thought it would be fun to play the Dangerous Birds single on Propeller, the first band featuring Thalia Zadek. I wondered if anyone in the band noticed. A few hours later I was checking out the merch table and noticed another member of Wild Stares sitting behind some records, including original copies of some of their old records including an old Propeller 7″. I mentioned how cool I thought it was that they had that there for sale. He introduced himself as Justin Burrill, who was the man behind Propeller! And yes, they did notice I played the Dangerous Birds single. It was this kind of punk-rock networking that made the event so cool. There’s a great and extensive interview with the band from an old edition of Perfect Sound Forever, well worth reading.
The Nightingales were one of the main reasons I was there. They grew out of the Acute Records-released Prefects and I had suggested them for the festival. As those of you who have been religously following this blog know, I think they’re one of the best bands performing these days and I’ve seen them play NY a few times now, each time just getting better and better but never really reaching that huge an audience in this jaded town. I think it’s great that they’re playing so much though and really think it’s starting to pay off, building up a new fan-base show by show. Despite there being some last-minute schedule changes, which I am partially responsible for, they finally got to play around 6 or so, a few hours after they were supposed to play, but many hours before they were scheduled to play. It’s a long story, but the timing worked out well for them. They played upstairs to a packed room and I imagine most of the people there didn’t know what to expect. They put on a great show, though not quite as amazing as their performance at Asterisk in Bushwick the week before. I think they won over a lot of fans. The moment they finished two guys came back to the DJ booth and asked “who was that???”.Â Robert Lloyd was in great form, taunting the audience as usual. One famous aside that has already been documented in more then one place involved Robert stopping the music and staring at somebody in the first row and saying “Don’t you fucking ever take a picture of me…holding a bud light.” They did that little bit of Faust So Far they always do, making for the second Faust cover of the day. Seriously, do not miss the chance to see them. They have a great new album out soon called Insult to injury, recorded with Hans-Joachim Irmler of Faust, here’s a song from it.
The Nightingales-Little Lambs
control-click to download
The Urinals have been a favorite of mine since the AmRep compilation came out. Unfortunately I didn’t see much of their set even though it was a prime goal of mine. I heard them play Strip Club from the 100 Flowers record, one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. I also bought a t-shirt. They sounded great.
A Certain Ratio hadn’t played the US since 1985 and getting them to play the festival was quite the coup. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m sure a lot of people were hoping to hear some of those early post-punk funk classics, which ACR did deliver. But I think some of the audience may not have remembered how far the band went into the 80s and 90s getting more and more involved with club music and various other influences, ranging from the smooth post-UK jazz funk grooves to acid house. While they may not have played Do the Du with all the frantic noise of a young post-punk band, they covered the breadth of their career and sounds, ending with a killer latin drum funk jam (a live remix of Skipscada?) and encored with a cover of Joy Division’s Heart and Soul. Now we have to get them to NY!
The bands ended sunday night around 1 or so, and were followed by a Part Time Punks dance party. Something I’d never really seen. Back when I started Transmission I had this dream of playing proper post-punk dance records to a dancing crowd. That’s never really flown here. Maybe you drop Gang of 4 or Delta 5 into a disco or 80s rock/new wave set you’re good, but a room full of people dancing their assess off to the Normil Hawaiins or House of Cracks by The Lines at 2 am on a sunday night? I take it all back LA, I’m sorry about all the horrible things I’ve said about you.
After the show, I joined Adesh to hang out with A Certain Ratio back at the hotel, the closest I’ll ever come to living 24 Hour Party People, then we hit IHOP. A few hours of sleep, waiting for valet service in 91 degree heat, just missing Rob Lowe filming something on the hotel roof, then we flew back monday. NY was like 40 degrees. The NME reviewed the festival here, including some video footage, though I take umbridge at the “hipster Brooklyn” comment.
Anyway, thanks to Part Time Punks for putting it all together and letting me take part. Till next time…
The photo up top is ACR taken by Adesh’s iPhone. OK at pictures, not OK at driving directions. Here’s one more for the road, I’d Like to See You Again, Los Angeles…