When about 35,000 Angelinos were roasting under the sun at Made in America festival, listening to its array of mainstream music that Jay Z calls diversity, I was in Silverlake attending the first annual end of summer party, the ‘Silverlake Meltdown’ organized by Sick City Records at Los Globos.
And it was impossible to not put these two events in parallel, the most popular acts of the rap, hip hop, pop and EDM scene (mostly) playing downtown LA (Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Iggy Azalea,…) and the most underground artists playing in a dark club, in the heart of hipster town,… and don’t ask me where the real rock ‘n’ roll action was!
I tried to watch some parts of the live streaming of Made in America before leaving for the Silverlake Meltdown, I managed to watch a little bit of ZZ Ward (horrible), Dr. Dog, X Ambassadors, Iggy Azalea, Sublime with Rome, and, call me a snob, but I found all of them uninspired and uninspiring… what a display of blank and trite music this festival is! Except a few acts that I wouldn’t mind to see live (Weezer for example) I simply didn’t know most of the acts playing there, who the hell is Wax Motif? Metric? 12th Planet? R3Hab? Wolfgang Gartner? Will Sparks? DVBBS? I realize I follow the underground, the stages where musicians play in the dark in front of a few dozens of people. This is my scene, where I feel comfortable and rewarded.
This ‘Silverlake Meltdown’ was no exception, presenting 13 bands on two stages, 13 acts having more swagger in a guitar riff than in all the fibers of Azalea’s gluteal muscles. I could hardly keep up with all this energy and raw power, and just like the label organizing the night, the night turned to be sooo sick. First of all, Los Globos is a mysterious and strange place to me, for a long time the club has been hosting Latin dance nights with salsa, it was also one of LA’s first gay bars, and the site of the first rave party, but now they book more and more indie, punk rock and pop bands on the two-level club. Recently Los Globos was the site of a rap battle which ended up in a giant brawl, but on Saturday night, nothing close to this happened, the whole night was happening upstairs (whereas I only knew the large ballroom downstairs) and as the night progressed, the crowd grew bigger and bigger. But is this place dark! ‘Put the flash on! Put the flash on!’ screamed at me a young guy who had already a few beers,… I know, this place is damn dark, I screamed back at him.
The night had some of my favorite underground bands, and I discovered a few other ones, like Black Lotus who was playing when I arrived. I didn’t see much of them but they had the rage in the belly, the guitarist was rolling his back on the floor of the small room and their bluesy southern rock with some Stooges’ raw power sounded true to the core… ‘Black Lotus is dead, we killed it!’ said the guitarist while screaming their new name: The Detro… they were rocking no doubt about it.
Sunshine Mind was sounding sunnier with a fuzzy and layered sound embellished by upbeat vocal harmonies, but loud and dense like a storm in preparation, although they talk a lot about some kind of cosmic crash on their website… they are a brand new band and are about to release an EP via Lollipop records.
Meanwhile Mechachief, a guitar/drums duo, was raging in the small room… there was no singing, no lyrics and it was garage rock in all its splendor, with the drummer’s lion blonde mane moving in all directions and the guitarist’s balaclava falling out of place… I totally loved their punk energy and their Mexican wrestling look.
Talking about wrestling (I know that frontman Matthew Teardrop is a big fan), Manhattan Murder Mystery was playing on the other stage, and although I have seen them many times, I can’t get enough of their drunk Christmas hymns, poignant and sad melodies that take you at the throat and wrestle with your mind. They were a lot on stage, and Teardrop’s harmonica and screamed-from-the-guts vocals had never been so visceral, I hope they get the big break they deserve one day, they are weirdos and I love weirdos.
An Austin band, The Wolf, was playing in the small room, expanding Silverlake’s horizons with some sort of stoner-desert-psychedelia feeling and upbeat sun-drenched 60s harmonies, they were very good and were filling the room with lots of fuzz and some pounding beats produced by their imposing drummer who was wearing a Black Sabbath shirt.
I heard a few times people screaming ‘You are so sick!’ during Bonfire Beach’s set. I have seen them a few times now – the last time was at this Echo Park Rising music orgy in August – and I am well aware that their dark and hypnotic sound is a crowd pleaser. They have indeed a sick wall of fuzz, with dark but dance-y melodies, fast tempos which are as badass as a motorcycle road trip. And they have an album release soon!
Once again, the small room was exploding with Electric Children and a punk energy. The guitarist was restless, moving nervously even pushing the audience during one of his trips out of the stage, while the drummer was beating the crap out of his drums. They were loud, punk, grunge-y, and this was another display of explosive garage rock punk rage if I have seen one.
Santoros, a band I already have seen a few times, managed to gather more and more people in the big room with their catchy 60s-injected songs, and things got really busy and crowded, the stage like the whole place. A Santoros show is a party, a warm one, with people starting to dance over infectious rhythms… suddenly there is so much going on and your head is spinning like a whirligig. But the night was not over yet!
There was the Pocket Rockets in the small room, a trio with a catchy name who was producing a poppier sound than the bands who had played there before…I am not sure how to describe their sound, at this point I was becoming a bit deaf, but I noted that they sounded a bit Strokes-y? Not a bad start, and I am no saying this because I just saw the Strokes.
But it was obvious, a lot of people had come for Moving Units, a very dynamic dance punk band which managed to make everyone break a sweat despite the cold air conditioning… it was sure an adrenaline-charged act, Silverlake’s answer to all these boring EDM acts, making the crowd jump and fall on the floor – I saw a couple fall down while starting a devilish dance number – with rhythms that can remind you about the 80s and all that Depeche Mode trend. However, they had their own sound, it was a jump out of the garage rock scene and the biggest crowd of the night,… what can I say people just want to dance these days…
I still managed to see The Ugly Kids, a trio who had a fast and sweet Ramones-y sound and a super excited attitude while playing their poppy-punk music, proving one more time that punk is not dead, but I was almost dead myself when Warm Soda took the stage, an Austin band (another one) combining power pop, garage rock and a high energy… I couldn’t decide first, but yeah, they were poppy more than anything else as their moniker could have let us suppose… I could hear many hooks and a very bubbly sound despite the very male tattoo on the perfect abs of their bassist (who was already playing with the Wolf by the way).
It was 1:30 am and my energy was definitively melting down after such a long evening, but this sort of mini-festival happens all the time, it was just your ordinary night in Silverlake… as a matter of fact, there was another one the following day, at the same place, presented by Burger Records and featuring 20 bands! Needless to say we can’t care less about giant festivals happening downtown.
dance pop, gooey confection
75K EAUs is abysmal
“I still hit the ball, I just can’t run the bases!!!”
contenders for the best punk rock around
A three hours of hard rock, metal not metal, swift, loud, egoless pure metal
worse than I remembered it being
a contender for the next Michael Jackson
the indie gorgeousness of mood and quiet desperation
smooth jazz and horns
Taylor was no longer my secret