This afternoon (as in Saturday, January 31), East L.A.'s latin/jazz/gypsy/punk mega-band the Killsonic Marching Gang will storm the underground, quite literally. Twenty-plus musicians with 20-plus instruments plan to invade the Metro Red Line, playing a series of 20-minute sets at subway stops between North Hollywood and Downtown.
The first performance takes place at the Universal City station at 4:06 p.m., followed by four other mini-concerts at Hollywood/Highland, Vermont/Sunset, Westlake/MacArthur and Pershing Square. The final show begins with a march through the hallowed (and wonderfully hollow) halls of Union Station and culminates in a full set (40 minutes) somewhere outside. Barring any public transit delays (har har), Killsonic should storm their final platform at exactly 6:23 p.m.
Killsonic counts among its ranks familiar names like Dorian Wood and Liz Pappademas, not to mention a laundry list of other inter-band outfits and mercurial projects. (To name but a few: Learning Music, Soul Conference, Red Maids, Mooey Moobau, The Blasting Co., and Masterslave.) Assuming the group shows up with all guns blazing, expect an incredible din: six drums, seven accordions, and 11 horns (including the massive helicon), not to mention the 24 voices that come with. Impressively, the city's on board.
Says accordion player (and solo artist) Leah Harmon: “I called the MTA to make sure we had permits to film the day, and the lady I talked to [Diane Dominguez, who couldn't be reached for comment] suggested we finish at Union Station. We had to write a proposal so she could take it to the other departments for clearance. As I was writing it, I thought, 'Wow. This is the most subversive thing I've ever done.'”
In early October, most of Killsonic's members flew to New York for a week and a half, playing 18 shows in 10 days, and picking up members as they went. Among the venues they graced: bars, clubs, houses, the street, sidewalks, and a wedding. Like any good marching band, they're completely wireless; unlike most, they actually take advantage of this fact.
“New York was fantastic,” says trumpeter Charles DeCastro, a group organizer alongside leader Mike Ibarra. “We thrived there–played all day and all night, everywhere we could, slept for four hours, then got up and did it again. I was surprised to hear from so many New Yorkers that they didn't have anything like us.”
Far too many Angelenos would be surprised too. If you're one of them, take note of the dates/map here and join Killsonic at one of their stops. Better yet, come along for the entire ride, and if you've got an instrument, join in. (Chris Martins)