Believe it or not, Echo Park and Silver Lake are not the Eastside. Gentrification has erroneously recalibrated the orientation of Los Angeles. The real Eastside lies past the 5 freeway and the L.A. River, where underground and established music venues thrive under the radar. This week, West Coast Sound goes eastward to investigate what lies on other side of the 5.
It's not quite east of the 5 (just short by 0.2 miles), but there's no dispute that Boyle Heights' Eastside Luv embodies the Eastside vibe. The self-proclaimed wine y queso bar not only embraces its Eastside heritage with its decor, complete with chandeliers made out of Lowrider chain-steering wheels, vintage Chicano graphics, and couches upholstered in Dickies fabric, but also in its music. Artists and musicians from the largely under reported Boyle Heights galleries and theaters stop in to play sets ranging from punked-out folk songs to rock en español standards. Eastside Luv represents an antidote to gentrification, where a locally owned joint mixes upscale renovations with the old school spirit of a neighborhood. The distinct culture of Los Angeles is a hybrid between American and Mexican influence, and Eastside Luv effectively captures this musical and stylistic intersection. And yes, that's a stripper pole on the bar. For an even more authentic Boyle Heights musical excursion, stroll over to Mariachi Plaza just down the street where–on a good day–scores of sombrero-wearing musicians wait for gigs.
Like Mexico City's Plaza Garibaldi, Mariachi Plaza is like a market of musicians: just point to your favorite Mariachis, they jump in your car, and then prepare for jams at your party/event/living room. Mariachi Plaza has been slated to be a major stop on the much delayed Gold Line, so jackhammers may intermingle with the sounds from Jalisco, but it's worth a visit to soak up the flavor of Boyle Heights before it's Starbucked and sanitized.
Earlier this week on East of the 5:
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