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
BLVD., VIVA MALPACHE, LOS ABANDONED, GO BETTY GO at Westchester Sports Grill, April 5
Los Angeles' best venue for local Latin alternative acts is the Westchester Sports Grill, a tavern on the outskirts of LAX whose all-wood walls and leather couches would seem more comfortable hosting a VFW reunion than the region's rockeros. But Spanglish is the lingua franca here every couple of weeks, and even international acts now inquire about paying a visit during tours.
This is not to say that every band performing at the WSG is superb. For instance, take last Saturday's opening act, Blvd. Their head-nodding sound can potentially be the best thing out of Las Vegas since Don Rickles, but the lead singer needs to learn how to shut up. Her big voice prattled about nothing, and the group's we're-from-Vegas shtick wore out its welcome quicker than Casino. There must have been something in the WSG's $5 beers, because Viva Malpache's lead singer proved to be as annoying as Blvd.'s Gwen rip-off. His yowls weren't appropriate for a 7-year-old with a skinned knee, let alone a 20-something Vince Vaughn look-alike. Thankfully, Viva Malpache's music — slightly sinister ska painted with dark percussion — diverted audience members from this car wreck of a croak.
Los Abandoned saved the bar's reputation for booking stellar slates. Their nervous pop pulsates with insecurities, but the quartet nevertheless plowed through their set with the confidence that having been Aterciopelados' opening act instills in a group. Los Abandoned certainly learned their audience interaction from the Colombians: At one point lead singer Lady P. invited LATV Live staffer Lili Montero onstage and plucked "Happy Birthday" to her with a ukulele. Go Betty Go closed, but no words about the muchachas from me. We ran a gushing story on them a couple of weeks back. Find it. The article still applies. (Gustavo Arellano)
SUBHUMANS at the Roxy, April 1
Subhumans' music — like their message — is an uncomfortable, confrontational concoction. Born of Britain's early-'80s post-punk anarcho movement (alongside Crass, Conflict, etc.), which expanded the punk genre's lyrical and musical vision without diluting its venom, Subhumans have inspired word-of-mouth awe since their split in '85, to the point where the re-formed band are on an exhaustive international trek, including two sold-out nights at the Roxy. With their classic lineup and integrity intact, Subhumans are now playing to kids barely born during their original incarnation, yet their pent-up sense of injustice and jaggedly anthemic compositions defiantly translate.
Subhumans remind us that rock & roll — especially in its punk guise — is as much about commitment as content. Bespectacled figurehead Dick, looking like the office nerd gone postal, is not big on melody, ranting out his heartfelt diatribes in almost spoken-word fashion between bouts of unison backing vocals. The choppy "Walls of Silence," the fluttering toms of "This Year's War" and the almost fluid, sub-Zeppelin licks and offbeat interludes of "Stresshead" evidence a broad range of '70s influences well beyond the cartoony adrenalized pop that parades as "punk" today. Dick's sweat-spraying torment aside, the Subhumans are disappointingly inanimate and overcompensate for often atonal vocals; the endless stop-start, call-and-response instrumental interplay and tempo tampering soon wear thin. The sizable pit responds best when Dick's lyrics lock directly with the caffeinated kick and snare, the primal, soccer-chant connection launching geysers of Mohawked crowd surfers. Eventually, the (very) white reggae, sing-along verses of "Human Error" satiate the screamers, and once again security have their hands full as the swirling refrain gathers steam.
There's an irony in Subhumans — who personify the squat-dwelling, dog-on-string subculture of Mrs. Thatcher's bleak Britain — showing up 20 years later to be idolized on the Sunset Strip. Yet there's nothing cynical about their reappearance, and such unpretentious, uncompromising anti-establishment rage will always resonate with young hearts. (Paul Rogers)
Yes, it was quietly thrilling to walk onto the hushed grounds of the All Saints Church in Pasadena Saturday night, knowing that, incongruously, one was about to take in an evening of raucous free improvising by a group of veteran players that included the great and usually reclusive Los Angeles Free Music Society co-founder and turntable-and-tape whiz Tom Recchion. One also heard that this was going to be a "walkaround music" experience, and there indeed were nine musicians variously clustered at the far four corners of the auditorium, with the magnificent percussionist Alex Cline perched smack in the middle, surrounded by his trapset and gongs and facing a huge video screen that hypnotized some of us with slow-zoom, tilted images of the players, and us.
The first signal that the piece (a "scored improvisation") was under way in the midst of our walking bodies and shuffling feet was a brushy smattering of fluttering brushes across tom-toms that ended in a small, quick spangle of cymbal pangs. Woozy video distraction aside, a gloomy, hissing jungle of steamy electronic sounds was enfolding us, thickening into a dense crescendo of menacing noises, pushed forward by Vinny Golia's hollow-metallic circular patterns on the bass saxophone, fluttering like a vulture's wings. Smack, thwack! added Cline.
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