In a few years, I will fondly remember the afternoons organized by Burger Records, this little label is really doing a lot for local music and the underground LA scene! Beside the annual Burgerama, I have attended a few shows organized by Burger Records and I always had a blast. On Sunday afternoon, the Echoplex was hosting Burger, Burgers, and Bud with Redd Kross, and I could see six bands for the price $5, so why would I have stayed home? Co-founder Lee Rickard was there, and I spent the afternoon in the freezing air conditioning of the Echoplex during a surprising heat wave… it is October and it was 95ºF outside.
The first band was The Side Eyes fronted by the young Astrid McDonald, proving one more time that if music runs in the family, punk music is in one’s DNA. Astrid is Red Kross’ Jeff McDonald’s daughter (her mother is The Go-Go’s Charlotte Caffey) and she is already fronting a punk band of course. The Side Eyes had punch and authentic punk fibers, no doubt about it and Astrid had some real riot grrrl intonations. They all look young kids, who had adopted the right attitude, and Astrid with her schoolgirl mini skirt revealing her long legs had a great energy, kneeling down or doing a cute and dynamic dance. The quartet produced some dark punk energy despite their youthful appearance, with doomed violent head-banging parts, then going lighter, poppier and bouncier at times, and I felt some total girl power after their set.
Wyatt Blair had a few problems with his guitar during their set, but this didn’t prevent the crowd to enjoy it. Their first song had an almost classic rock vibe with big guitars and a catchy melody, I would say almost Tom Petty-esque? While the rest was a bit 70’s retro power pop. They even injected a bit of reggae in one song. slowing down and being melodically all over the place, may be as Ariel Pink does it? Minus the eccentric outfits! I just noticed a Lolipop tattoo on his arm, and there’s a good reason to this as Blair is one of the founders of LA’s Lolipop Records.
Death Valley Girls are probably gonna think I am stalking them as I have just seen them at Vacation Vinyl a week ago! They were playing on Sunday afternoon again because they are part of the Burger family, and I can only repeat that I truly enjoyed their ferocious dark boogie music, furiously awaken by their cartoonish female voices. They sure have developed a great sound mixing doomed elements with a wild and expansive psychedelia fronted by a rebellious outlaw biker female gang, bringing along a guy during one of their savage rides… and what a ride it is!
What I like during these events is the diversity of the bands playing, and Hammered Satin was another trip. Did these guys attend the Darkness show at the Glass House two nights ago? I am just saying this because these guys seem to appreciate spandex, hair metal and the glam rock look of the 70’s. They obviously gave an over-the-top performance with handsome frontman Noah Wallace, wrapped in purple and silver glitter, giving the performance of his life, rolling his back on stage, squealing like a herd of squirrels with pinched tails, doing a cartwheel in high platform shoes, unzipping his leotard… Glam pop-rock has never been so hip than today, and their set was glamor galore with a series of triumphant dances all pumped up by the music… He wanted to be David Bowie and David Lee Roth at the same time, and you know what, it was working because of their self-deprecating sense of humor, and half-parody-kind-of-show. They had songs like ‘Sugar Babe’, ‘Lonely Tiger’, ‘Reptilian’, ‘Foxy Dude’, ‘Quasar Queen’, and even ‘Glamorama’… isn’t it also a Bret Easton Ellis’ novel? May be it’s not a simple coincidence.
White Fang changed the scene from glam to trash in a few minutes, with the same silly attitude nevertheless. They were a punk band from Portland, with a careless and provocative attitude, the singer was into a lot of mime play and they were playing a lot of to-be-wasted-on-Budlight punk songs profusely dropping the name of the sponsor of the show. Their bud light song should obviously be picked for an ad campaign for the beer, since it was catchy enough and it only had a chorus. They were entertaining with some massive head-and-body banging, and curiously some catchy melodies beside the trashy lazy vulgar boisterous freak clownish attitude.
Redd Kross was headlining the show, and should I call them veterans? Well they have been around for 34 years, since the first wave of LA punk rock, and I had the occasion to see the band fronted by brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald a few times. I must say I have seen rowdier crowd than last night – I remember in particular a wild show at the Sunset Junction Fair and another one at the Roxy – but I have to blame the heat this time. Redd Kross always has a formidable energy on stage showing their roots in punk and experimenting in different rock styles, flirting with grunge,… after all they have received accolades from music royalties from Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore to Sub Pop cofounder. Jeff and Steven are both married to rock & roll royalties (respectively Go-Go’s guitarist Charlotte Caffey and Anna Waronker, daughter of label guru Lenny Waronker), their album ‘Neurotica’ was recorded with producer Tommy Ramone, and Pitchfork has called them the missing link between Big Star and the Pixies… Shouldn’t these long-haired punk rockers be more famous so? They know about poppy hooks and choruses balanced by a furious rocking energy, big guitar solos and a hair pop metal attitude, I swear, everyone must have been at this Darkness show, since their drummer was wearing a Thin Lizzy shirt!
They played with a furious explosive energy, from start to finish, legs apart and arms in the air, with some really punchy songs hitting in the right places. And they did not want to go home, they came back with an encore with a series of short bass-driven punk numbers and endless guitar-bass duels, keeping a very joyous core in all this. Wow it was 9:45 pm when I exited the Echoplex and I had entered at 3 pm, but it was still around 90 ºF outside.
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