By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“Then I called Mark, the kid from the Pedantiks, and we arranged to meet at Texarkana. He said he was bringing the guy Sam from his group. Anyway during dinner we talked about rock, I guess. . . . Sam’s teeth are bad and he looks grey, but I guess rock and roll isn’t healthy and these kids do start to look like that.”
—Andy Warhol, The Andy Warhol Diaries, Sunday, September 25, 1983
A decidedly stalkable Annie Hardy leans against the front of the Echo, on Sunset near Glendale Boulevard, amid a meandering parade of 50 or so youthful thrift-store-fashion aficionados. A petite and pasty little party cookie, she reads 15 and trailer-park slutty to the naked eye, but is actually 25 and Silver Lake savvy. She lights a cigarette, looks like she may have had a drink or two, and effects a flat-line veneer, but her darting eyes are a dead giveaway. She’s absolutely engaged. Networking. Eastside style.
It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday night, midway through the Fuck Yeah Festival, a three-day indie jamboree put on by Spaceland Productions and some ambitiously shaggy kid named Sean Carlson. It’s a sort of Silver Lake/Echo Park All-Stars thing. It all happens at the Echo and simultaneously a block east on a makeshift stage at the Rec Center. There’s also standup comedy at the Downbeat Café on Alvarado and an art show at Sea Level Records on Sunset.
Annie’s band, Giant Drag, is at the top of the Silver Lake/Echo Park food chain. It’s a two-person affair, her and Micah, a pale, thin boy who drums and plays bass lines on a keyboard at the same time. Micah works a sort of listless, disaffected persona. Giant Drag is just back from a Euro festival tour and a few weeks from going out again. It’s gone well lately for Micah and Annie. Though Annie still brings out the strangers offering kindnesses, of a sort.
“I get a lot of older guys who will give me money and will, like, stand outside waiting for us to show up at a venue for four hours to get a picture and autograph. And just a lot of men who would like to tie me up with ropes and throw me in the trunk of their car and take me home and rape me,” she tells me. And though I don’t personally care to do any of that, I can see how her Russian-mail-order, child-bride, fetish-girl good looks could incite those so inclined, or at least get them to hit up Giant Drag’s Web site and buy a CD. It’s a MySpace world here in Silver Lake. Everybody’s got a Web site and a band.
“They seem to be very generous,” Annie goes on about Giant Drag’s pedophilic patronage. “When I announce that I’m broke, a couple of them put cash in my hand. I think it’s cuz I look like I’m 14 and I have a dirty mouth. Onstage and off.” Micah stands nearby, staring into space.
“We’ve been around for three years and we’re poor, but we do all right in England,” Annie tells me. “I’m singing about myself mostly. Most of our first record was about me being in shitty situations with shitty people. And sometimes I sing about cats.”
Annie’s a foulmouthed Silver Lake superstar. Her band is a big local headliner. Silverlake Lounge to Spaceland to London and maybe to the bank . . . if things go really well. But making bank isn’t what this new crop are all about, or so they’ll tell you.
“Hopefully we’re taking this to a life of semicomfort where you don’t have to worry about paying bills every month and have enough money to not be stressed out and have enough integrity to not be bummed out,” she says. A humble goal. Micah and Annie are just friends, and a lot of their friends are in bands in Silver Lake.
Annie likes Autolux, Midnight Movies and Darker My Love. Micah’s into Rolling Blackouts, Dios Malos and the Silversun Pickups. He’s played with Going Stag and Radio 4. “Not the one [Radio 4] you heard of. Another one,” he says.
“Our record that we have out is doing okay,” Annie says. “We’re on Kickball, which is a subsidiary of Interscope. Which means subsidiaries pretending to be indie labels that are really owned by major labels so they can give you less money.” Her eyes are still darting up and down the sidewalk.
She’s from Orange County. Micah’s from the San Fernando Valley.
“I notice that people are looking for the new Silver Lake. Like where I live in Echo Park. And I can tell you that it is because the rent [in Silver Lake] went up $200,” Annie says.
You can always trace the evolution of a creative community by following the socioeconomic trail. It’s about the real estate. Like Portland or Seattle, where five kids can still all pay a hundred bucks a month to live in some shit-hole house, work some shit job and get their indie nut off with their bands in small clubs on the weekend. It’s a lifestyle choice dictated by property values, so when the rent went up downtown in the ’80s, the broke and arty kids scattered like roaches when you switch on the kitchen light at 3 a.m. They nested in Silver Lake and the surrounding area.