Black Fag Is a Cover Band 

Wednesday, Nov 8 2006

Thursday, 9:08 p.m.: “I figured, how can I come to Largo and not sing a folkie murder ballad?” Sean Watkins (of lauded bluegrass outfit Nickel Creek) is moonlighting in his two-piece band, Tractor Beam, during the Watkins Family Hour. It’s an elegant, high-class hootenanny. Candles in mason jars glow like fireflies on the tabletops as he drones on about the lovelorn suicide of a butcher’s daughter. I find his nasal howl equally suited to sorrowful crooning and pig calling. I’d like to be wearing a bonnet.

Thursday 9:27 p.m.: Things get adorable. Another Watkins (and fellow Nickel Creeker), Sara, has just stepped onstage in a calico baby-doll dress, bearing a ukulele. The crowd hardly breathes as she plucks a few strings and begins to warble some song about a pony in a voice too delicate and gorgeous for the mortal world. As she picks up a fiddle, I suffer through a philosophical quandary: Would I rather be her, or marry her? She’s joined by her brother Sean and a smattering of local musicians for a foot-stomping set that includes Bob Dylan and Tom Brosseau covers. When local duo the Ditty Bops guest on a few numbers, the old-timey adorability reaches ridiculous levels.

Thursday, 11:34 p.m.: Leaving Largo refreshed and content, I reflect on the nature of life in Los Angeles, and consider that perhaps the city suffers from a bad rap. Then I pass a lone pumpkin sitting on the sidewalk. It has been tagged with graffiti.

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Saturday, 8:44 p.m.:Black Fag is not a typo; it’s a cover band. The opening night of Jennifer Finch’s punk rawk photography exhibit at the Aidan Ryley Taylor Gallery features the Black Flag tribute, wall-size blowups of ’80s-era pre-surgery Courtney Love, and a sweaty tangle of punkers young and old craning to catch the action. In a smoking jacket and cravat, lead singer Liberace Morris has just wailed an introduction with all his femme bravado: “You may know this song as ‘My War.’ We know it as ‘My Waaardrobe!’?”

Saturday, 10:57 p.m.:Little Radio has so much to offer tonight: a seemingly bottomless open bar, a free Giant Drag show featuring Annie Hardy’s improvised a capella version of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” and the opportunity to climb into some tiny precious vehicles in L.A. Electric Cars’ adjacent showroom. (Little Radio has recently become the city’s only electric-car dealership.) The one detail the evening lacks is a lock on the women’s bathroom. But waiting in line for the loo, I’m touched to witness new friendships forged when strangers are forced to trust each other to watch the door. But a working lock would be better.

Saturday, 11:44 p.m.: Still at Little Radio, Bloodcat Love has just taken the stage. A trusted comrade leans in and whispers, “The lead singer of this band? He stole my roommate’s bike.” My mouth drops open, and I’m appalled. I’d met the Pash! DJ and general man-about-town, Myles Hendrik, and found him to be a warm and sincere, though hyperfashionable, lad. My companion continues, “And he went and drank our orange juice, like, straight from the carton!” I’d been sincerely enjoying the rumbly rock and baritone pop vocals of Bloodcat Love, but now I’m viewing them through a haze of mistrust. Suddenly, my comrade slaps my shoulder and points to another man across the room. “Never mind, it was THAT guy! They’re just wearing the same hat. Sorry.” My faith in Myles restored, I rock on.

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