People say a lot of things about LA. Some are nice, some not so much. But after living here for four years, I love it. Yes, it’s sprawling. Yes, our public transportation sucks (and will for a long time.) But it has so much to offer. Check out this video of a sped-up view of what it’s like flying over LA at twilight. I got goosebumps.
Mad Decent, a Philidelphia-based record label headed by Diplo, has put on block parties in Philly for the past couple years, but 2010 is the first time that it’s taken the show on the road. This year they’re hitting up three more cities. So far they’ve hit Philly and New York, and next weeks they’ll be off to Chicago, but today the show descended on L.A.
When we got to the “Premier Events Center”, which was essentially a city block in the gentrified part of downtown a few seconds from skid row, not too much was going on. We wandered around a bit, sat on the curb and talked, and made our way to the stage once Maluca started her set. I’ve heard of Maluca before, but never listened to her music. I’d liken it to Buraka Som Sistema, but the fact that my knowledge of anything characterized as “experimental tropical punk, ghettotech and hip-house” is quite limited, that might be a cheap comparison. Anyways, her set was great. She had two dancers up on stage, which gave the show some personality and livened up what could have turned run-of-the-mill very quickly (not that her music isn’t intriguing, but one girl and a DJ on stage aren’t much to look at.)
Next up was Bosco Delrey, who played a solid mix of harsh guitars and electronic beats for a while. One thing that I noticed about his songs (at least in a live setting) was that they were fairly long. Most artists making this kind of music tend to stick to 2/3 minute jams without really developing the ideas behind their songs. Delrey played songs that were 5/6 minutes long and had some actual heft to them.
Theophilus London followed up Bosco Delrey, and while his indie brand of hip hop was pretty great, the fact that Kid Sister came up right after him sorta made him fade away. Kid Sis was the surprise guest of the evening and did a short set consisting of “Big ‘n Bad,” a new song that I didn’t recognize, and “Pro Nails.” It was short but sweet, and she brought all of the energy she usually does to the stage.
Paul Devro came up next, and we stayed to enjoy dancing to Major Lazer’s “Pon The Floor,” a remix of Big Boi’s “Shutterbug,” and some other electro songs I couldn’t quite place. Oh yeah, Andy Milonakis was on and off stage all day. Maybe it’s because of this. After that we got out things together and headed out. Now I’m off to a Hercules & Love Affair show!
View these photos at my flickr page. Aaaaand… I’m on Stereogum!
After having visited the various museums around LA (the Getty, Norton Simon, Huntington, and the various museums here at Exposition) over the past couple years, I finally made it to LACMA. Visiting museums presents a mild catch-22 for me: I don’t like going without a group of other people, but I don’t like to walk around with that group. I’d much prefer to go on my own and sit in one spot for a half hour if I want to without worrying about if the rest of the group is getting annoyed. Luckily, I’ve found that plenty of people feel the same way and don’t really care if we stick together as a group or not.
On another “freshman outing” coordinated by the grad Radomir, about 10 of us headed down to check out the latest addition to LACMA: the BCAM (Broad Contemporary Art Museum). We started off the night at Souplantation, which turned out to essentially be a step up from college cafeteria-style dining. After wondering why a Frank Lloyd Wright quotation was on the wall and having our fill of soup, salad, bread, and desserts we embarked on the traffic-packed journey that was 3rd/Fairfax/Wilshire to LACMA.After 5pm, everyone gets in free, so being the cheep college students we are, that’s exactly what we went for.
Starting off, the BACM goes top down (kinda like the Guggenheim I guess) and each of the three floors is massive. The first floor (which is actually the third) opens up to the exhibition that all the press in focusing on. The pieces are very large, metallic, incredibly shiny, balloon-shaped objects by Jeff Koons. These include dogs, an egg, and other things that are just big and colorful and reflective. Also in this exhibition are a few pieces by Andy Warhol. After spending a good part of a month focusing on Pop Art last semester, I’ve done a bit of reading on him and was very surprised to see his Elvis at LACMA. While only one copy was on display, it reminded me of the fact that they used to be displayed repeatedly overlapping across an entire wall. Very Pop and very gay, as was Warhol.
Of the three floors, the first had the largest pieces, the second had the most pantings/photography, and the third was all (I think) Richard Serra pieces. Again, last semester we spend quite a bit of time on installations and public art. Serra’s Tilted Arc was the focus of our discussions, but his two pieces at LACMA are far more interesting in my opinions. While Tilted Arc is clearly a prime example of how public art can be received by its audience (and I agree that it was very intrusive), these two were not out in public, and I think that their place in a large hall is perfect. Both pieces rise up about 10-15 feet and are made of rusted steel. One piece is a massive figure eight and the other (which we didn’t spend much time at) was similarly contoured, but I’m not sure what its shape is.
After we left the BACM, we headed over the main part of LACMA, but our time was limited. In about an hour and a half, I saw some great Southern Californian pieces, a Rothko, two Pollocks, some Picassos, a Braque, and countless others. At 9, we were kicked out and LACMA closed. Naturally, we spend another hour driving aimlessly around LA and eventually wound up back on campus. It was a good night.
Last night I decided that I wanted to go to a show in downtown at a tiny underground indie/noise/punk venue called The Smell. Why? Because two of The Smell’s brainchildren were performing: No Age & Mika Miko. Along with these two were The Strange Boys, Jay Reatard, and Disaster Bad Parents.
The night started around 8:30 when I caught the Metro 81 which was a straight-shot to where I needed to go. So I got off at my stop and started heading in what I thought was the right direction. I was able to make it in front of the No Age: Weirdo Rippers venue front, or back, as the real front is down an alley. It was apparent that I couldn’t get in there as there was no door-handles and a guy who didn’t look like The Smell’s normal cliental told me to go through the parking lot; great advice, if the parking lot was open. So I wound up walking around the block until I came to a small alley that looked like it’d lead to the back of the building, which it did.
So I walked inside and got my $8 wristband (no pre-sale tickets), went to the bathroom (which is covered in graffiti and band stickers), and walked into the main-stage area where Disaster Bad Parents were beginning to play. They weren’t really my taste of music, but The Smell is known for letting all kinds of music play, so no judgement passed. Next were The Strange Boys. I think that they have an average age of about 15, no lie. They were great, even though I think that they played a lot of covers. Their sound kind of bounced along without losing its classic punk sound.
Next up, to my surprise, was No Age. I figured that, since they are the biggest band coming out of The Smell, that they would be last. I was glad that they played third, because I had to leave at 11:40, and it was already around 10:30 (my bus left at midnight, and it wouldn’t come again until 5). They were amazing. The waves of feedback and crazy drums were exactly what I thought No Age would be. For “Everybody’s Down,” the guitarist came out into the crowd and just walked around playing the repetitive chord progression while the drummer stood on an amp and sang the song. Then they got back into position and the song hit it’s critical climax. All hell broke loose. It was a massive pit where no one was trying it hit anyone else. It was the nicest pit that I’ve ever seen. It was more of a pure enjoyment of the music instead of a violent collective.
Near the end of their set, some ass started yelling, “BORING…BORING…” So the drummer got pissed, and we threw him out of the club. Considering that No Age could fill venues many times this size, and they they come here because it’s home, they pretty much rule the place. Anything that they say, goes.
Sadly, I couldn’t stay for Jay Reatard and Mika Miko because I didn’t really feel like missing my bus. Beign stranded in LA at night isn’t very fun. Not that I know from experience, I just know how weird it is sitting at a bus stop while the homeless wander around behind you… So that was my night at The Smell. For $8, I’ll be back.
Edit: Changed Retard to Reatard, thanks hopkin.