My evening at the Echo on Christmas’s eve’s eve made me ponder about the meaning of Xmas… what Xmas has become in our country, our world or is it just Los Angeles? Or even Silverlake? I was walking among the underground of the underground, inside a subculture of the culture or was I in a country far far away from Dickens’ stories or the Capra’s ‘It’s a wonderful life’ mood that wraps the country at this time of the year. I was in a twilight zone where people celebrate Xmas by having the most fun they can, by expressing themselves in the most unexpected way considering Christmas is supposed to put the holy in holidays, and trashing to the core the most sanctified Xmas icons…
All Scene Eye, the Echo, KXLU, and Free Bike Valet had organized this evening with lots of bands at the Echo and beside Manhattan Murder Mystery, I had no idea who all these people were: White Woman, Vaya Futuro, Dead Panzies, Los Dharma Bums, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Luna is Honey, Hobart W Fink, Santa Youth, Wax Children? A total surprise program, however I am used to this, it happens all the time, and why not attempting it again just before Christmas, as shows always slow down during that week…
All night long, I was walking in a bizarro world, and the music was for the most part strange too, I was among the drunks and the weirdos, among the narc or human waste Santas, people who had transformed Xmas into a Halloween party repeat,… I even saw a girl with a fake Kardashian-derriere and another one with a unibrow, a half-shaved head and long blonde pubic hair in front of her blue dress! Was all this real? A joyous nightmare before Christmas, a Hunter S. Thompson’s dream filmed by John Waters. But I was there for the soundtrack….
Should I also say that their set times were somewhat off? And to add to the confusion, they had written Monday December 23 on the flyer, although it was a Tuesday, right? So despite the haze of the night, and keep in mind I was sober all the time, I will try to remember about the bands by order of apparition on the two stages of the Echo…
White Woman was a punk band fronted by a tall, thin and athletic blonde, playing some loose and aggressive garage rock, direct and sometimes heavy, a bit between the Ramones and Black Sabbath.
Vaya Futuro, a band from Tijuana, had a complete different vibe with double synth on the side and a lot of pedals… I first thought their music was a bit Radiohead-ish with dreamy-plaintive vocals, electronica and floating guitars, or at least they were the kind of band more interested by soundscapes than songs, with layers and fuzz, but they put some energy and beats in their shoegaze, even some violence and one of their longest tunes had this noise-pop feeling like a My Bloody Valentine en Espanol.
Wax Children, that I had first mistaken for Dead Panzies, and I blame their schedule for that, was a fuzz psych pop quartet with strong vocals, not buried in the loudness and overall a hard-to-pigeonhole music. Well, they describe themselves as Bizzaro Psych Noise Pop on their Facebook page, so I remember a very hybrid and breezy sound and also Odd Future’s Syd Tha Kyd watching them front row, unless I was hallucinating…
Next I saw Los Dharma Bums, a punk bluesy rock band with a Latino flavor, and I swear, one of their songs sounded like one of the Strokes. It was a joyful party, with people jumping around and the guy center stage entertaining the crowd, but just when I had the Strokes in mind they covered the Smiths’ ‘This Charming Man’ and it didn’t sound at all out of place… They went on with a series of cumbias, I know, Morrissey is always getting some Latino love.
Manhattan Murder Mystery was the only band I was familiar with, having seen them many times… They delivered their cheap-beer-fueled punk rock to the masses, with their furiously raw songs and gut-wrenching lyrics, putting the punk right in the middle of this Christmas party, and I had never seen so many Santas at the same time, moshing and trashing the place… it was quite a scene. They are a large band now and the sound keeps on growing, more luminous than ever from the bottom of bottle to the desperate heights of the human condition… perfect to cheer you up just before Xmas…
On the patio, Luna is Honey was a ‘sexy pop rock band’ as they define themselves, and I could totally hear the collage of pop and rock, intertwined in all sorts of influences, carried away by a cool breeze and Japanese manga pinups.
Hobart W Fink brought more weirdness and tempo changes with crunchy guitars. tuned like Dinosaur Jr.’s, and shouted vocals. Did you ask for a grungy dirty sound for Christmas? Well you had it, with some 90’s violent and aggressive riffs and a funny looking actor frontman.
In the patio Santa Youth took a long time to set up but when they did, they took me by surprise, I totally had to back up or I would have been crushed by a herd of crazy santas having some good old fun with some good old Christmas hymns totally punk-ized… Never ‘Joy to the world’ or ‘Hallelujah’ had never sounded so right, and it was chaos. I wish I had taken more pictures of these guys, but I almost dropped my camera… Oh yeah I forgot, Santa Youth was founded by the Revered Joe H. Borfo and is maintained by the Reverend Mateo? At least, this is what they say…
But there was more craziness inside with Dead Panzies, a grrl trio giving more dissonance and aggressive squeaks than all the previous bands combined, playing some tuneless punk songs mixing electric mandola and violin with flower-print short dresses and a devastating nihilism. I left the place a bit disoriented, but this was the weirdest but most perfect punk Xmas ever.
helped solidify Tony Orlando and Dawn’s place in pop music history.
Busted to the side
an easier separation in seasons as the summer of 2023 failed to prove itself musically
has never quite caught on in the USA
Jean making a name for himself and SZA stealing it
a pretty solid starter kit
the song of the summer that wasn’t one
Sinatra remained his aloof, superstar self
my list syncs up pretty well with the 1979 Village Voice Pazz and Jop
a special collection