Something is brewing in Elysian Valley. On a recent Friday night, above the normally quiet streets, throbbing beats emanate from behind the prefabricated walls of Hinckley's Self-Storage. Outside, a line of teens stretches for blocks. They check their phones, chat and pace. Nearby, food trucks queue up to take advantage of the captive crowd.
What's the hubbub about? In case you missed it, Hinckley's plays host to L.A.'s newest and hippest spot to hear music: Propinquity Space.
At 8 feet by 10 feet, “The Prope,” as it's being called, is also one of the city's most intimate venues.
Propinquity Space is a lifelong dream for its enigmatic founder, CalArts dropout Tyler Stevens-Tyler. He began hosting small shows here after he was kicked out of his practice room at Bedrock L.A. “I was looking for a new space to practice after I got kicked out over there and, like, I found a new one over here,” he says.
The space wasn't popular at first. But with rents at $1 for the first month and $125 for each one thereafter, he was able to keep going, experimenting with new formats. The current incarnation has just three seats, crammed next to an Ikea dresser and a box of his old high school notebooks he can't bear to throw away.
“The band and the fans get to be in the same space, literally and figuratively,” explains Prope's sound engineer, Miles Luna, between long draws of his vape tube.
When asked if he might expand the concept by taking over another unit or two and adding more seats, Stevens-Tyler responds, “No.”
On this Friday night, much of the crowd arrived around 7 or 8 a.m. for a 9 p.m. show, which started with opening acts Young Hunting and Oaxacan on Sunshine. Says one fan, “It's like, I just want to see what the buzz is all about, and I want to be able to tweet that I got in.”
This L.A. Weekly critic has managed to snag a seat, crammed up against a young couple from Van Nuys, Julia Cranston and Bill Berg. We had all waited more than 15 hours to see tonight's headliner, Buche de Noel, the emerging punk-rock act from Burma. Inside the Storage Wars – vibed space, there's nothing to hide behind, and the energy is pure and raw.
“Isn't this boss?” Cranston blurts out between songs, unable to contain her excitement as her hair hits us in the face.
Being two inches away from the pioneers of the new, artfully harsh sound coming out of the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw actually is boss. Although the acoustics suffer from the concrete walls, and the lighting is provided by Stevens-Tyler's Bed Bath & Beyond lamp that doesn't fit his decorating scheme anymore, there is a certain beauty to being so close to acts you've longed to see.
The band takes it in stride, despite Buche's frontman at one point having to reach between a crowd member's legs to grab the guitar pick he dropped. “Excuse me,” he says with a smile.