Mental Ward

Tuesday, 9:48 p.m.: “What is with you and this fucking moose?!” I admit, I’m getting a little confrontational. The atmosphere at the inaugural Echo Park Book Club is growing heated as an assembly of local artists and musicians discuss themes of power, love and moose abuse in Jack London’s classic novella The Call of the Wild. Formed by Michael Bauer of The Front to provide a “social option outside of the tired, worn bar scene,” its first Tuesday-night gathering at Barragan’s Mexican Restaurant offers plentiful baskets of free tortilla chips and an open environment for steady, compelling conversation. I eat my body weight in cheese and salsa.

Tuesday, 11:32 p.m.: Girl crush: confirmed. Australian pop outfit The Grates are back at Spaceland after a string of late-summer shows, and just as before, I find I’m in love. Lead singer Patience Hodgson’s clear, throaty vocals, permanent grin and kangaroo-on-street-drugs stage presence have the audience wide-eyed with affection as the band pounds out raw, bouncy tunes. In a white tutu and glittery sneakers, Hodgson parts the audience “like Moses,” drags her mike stand into the crowd, and swirls a huge pink ribbon above her head as she sings. I’m smiling, despite almost getting hit in the face.

Wednesday, 10:21 p.m.: “R U going to the after party? I’ve got a feeling about this one.” I try to avoid texting party hype to comrades, but the throbbing anticipation at the sold-out Lady Sovereign show has my intuition aflutter. The El Rey is stuffed to the chandeliers as gawkers crane in wait for the tiny, 20-year-old British rap sensation to appear. There’s a strange, palpable giddiness.

Wednesday, 10:32 p.m.: In an oversize T-shirt and side ponytail, “Lady Sov” busts onstage to the blare of her backing band, takes the mike, and begins to spit out rap bravado. Then she sneezes. Twice.

Wednesday, 10:37 p.m.: Having seen her at Coachella, I don’t recall her lyrics being quite so indecipherable. I also don’t remember her sobbing onstage. As she flaccidly drops the microphone to her side, her expression contorts with the rubber-faced misery of Lucille Ball. She whips off her sunglasses, hurling them across the stage. Her band continues playing, with raised eyebrows.

Wednesday, 10:41 p.m.: Waving her arms to halt the music, Miss Sovereign addresses the throng with a voice abrasive with illness. “I’m sorry!” Her shoulders sink. “I’m trying so badly! Aaah! I’m sick!” She offers to throw cash straight into the crowd, then drops her mike with an amplified thud, and rushes offstage into the wings.

Wednesday 10:50 p.m.: She returns, and the next 10 minutes involve coughing, crying, self-strangulation with a microphone cord, and sincere, chagrined apologies. After rapping the lyrics “Boogie-woogie-woogie with me” with the countenance of a tortured animal, she’s finally ushered away for good. I haven’t seen such enthralling misery since taking in an Italian opera. The crowd mills about, shaken and confused, and I encounter a comrade in the lobby. I ask what’s next. He shrugs, “I dunno .?.?. Eat tacos?”

Saturday, 11:46 p.m.: “You waded through the urine, concrete, vomit, celebrities and DJs to come see us .?.?. Thank you.” Local buzz band Gosling expresses their gratitude toward the end of a vintage-tinged, piano-driven set of rollicking songs at Safari Sam’s. I don’t know it yet, but the chorus of “Mr. Skeleton Wings” will be in my constant mental rotation for the next 72 hours straight. In a good way.

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