By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
At the Cathouse: huge hair. Van Halen’s success at tapping into our ingrained need for heavy party music had inspired a slate of shaggy, scarf-strewn expectant rock stars, like Guns N’ Roses, initially dismissed by critics but, somehow typically, in short order acquiring Classic American Rock Band status. At Gazzarri’s on the Strip, ever-larger-haired metal heads Great White, Motley Crue, Ratt and WASP waved the Valley-dude flag. Jane’s Addiction, however, preferred an artistic, psychedelia-flecked metal. In slamming live sets around town, the Red Hot Chili Peppers demonstrated the fruits of wrapping rock in funk and rap.
Local station KDAY pushed the most radical music of this or any other era: the gangsta-style rage of Compton’s N.W.A, whose fear-inducing drive-by funk and scabrous urban imagery further nourished the outside world’s enchantment with the crumbling dreams of the Golden State.
Rodney King gets thumped, the L.A. rebellion’s on. Gangstas get their say, white kids listen, and punk makes a sort of comeback — looks like another generation is totally fed up. Here comes Nirvana with their Elvis, Kurt Cobain, who brings passion back into fashion. Cobain felt too much, so he had to put an end to it all, and a thousand bands paid homage by peeling the gloss off, in sludge and screams: honest white trash was where it was at. Here in L.A., gangsta fanned out into a hip-hop consciousness that infiltrated numerous forms of expression, such as the rise of DJs as artists, kids twiddling dials in search of the perfect beat. Their big brothers and sisters had jumped up and down, pogo’d, celebrated the spazziness, but these kids believed in a most righteous opposite: They swayed side to side.
On any given night here in L.A., say at Atlas, El Rey, the Viper, Louis XIV, blasting from lowridin’ minitrucks out on the boulevard, there’s a DJ cutting and pasting and laying it out over funky beats, slugging beats, jittery beats. An explosion of ethnic musics and the kitschy glories of pop culture’s past has permanently changed the way we’re hearing the coloring of the sound, but we’ve circled around to the one thing most of us have always known, or heard about: Gimme that beatbeatbeat.
And that’s where we are. The beat goes on, in the clubs, on the streets and online. Changing colors always — and that’s the way we like it.