This Sunday, June 4 . Guest DJ Alan McGee of Creation Records fame
WHAT: Part Time Punks, a weekly rock club
WHERE: The Echo
WHEN: Sunday nights
It’s Sunday evening, just before midnight, and the Echo’s dance floor is packed with black hair and skinny jeans twitching to the sounds of Orange Juice, Felt and the Smiths. Some guy in an ill-fitting striped shirt is doing an impressive interpretive dance: First he shoots pictures of his friends with an invisible camera, then he digs a hole in the floor, and finally he shreds on air guitar. When the local clamor collective Bubonic Plague comes onstage with its rhythmic shriek-core, things get even more chaotic. Yes, Part Time Punks is always a good time — but, insists co-founder Michael Stock, it’s not an ironic, in-jokey thing, despite the winky name.
“We don’t do ironic,” says Stock more than once of the club he started a year ago with fellow wax-o-phile pal Ben White. These two friends deejay “tag team” style, switching off song choices in a way that’s thematic yet genre-bending, fearless yet always within their own sonic boundaries: rock and electro-noize from the late ’70s to the present, with a distinctly British flavor. Don’t expect a pogo à gogo or slam-pit sandwich on the dance floor: The night is all about post-punk — in fact, the name comes from a Television Personalities track about poseurs who pound the pit or rock the look only on the weekend.
But here’s the thing. PTP has suddenly become the coolest Eastside hangout, as popular with hair-conscious Hollywood rock types as it is with the scruffy Silver Lake music buffs who first flocked to it when it was their little secret. But it’s a secret no more.
“People are meeting, making friends and forming bands on the dance floor every week,” says Stock, who based the night on his weekly house parties (which he still throws), where pals bring new vinyl they’ve unearthed from hours of dusty thrift- and record-store combing. Stock and White actually met at Amoeba Records (White, who works there, is a member of improv rockers Go Go Go Airheart), and both admit to being shameless record-collecting nerds. Always on the hunt to discover something new and expose it to the public, they’ve also got a new Monday-night show on littleradio.com. Both guys fit the vinyl-fanatic profile too, with that relaxed, just-woke-up look (Stock favors chipped black nail polish), but unlike many of the meticulously ungroomed scenesters out there these days, this duo give off the vibe that they genuinely don’t care. Who has time for fashion when there’s awesome new (and old) music to be discovered?
And while they’ve found many who share their love for spastic British discotheque beats and wild art rock through their club (including admired local figures like Don Bolles, Tim Armstrong and PJ Harvey), it still took a while for PTP to catch on. The flier for their first night featured nothing but logos from their favorite labels (Rough Trade, Fast), and graphics that only a music aficionado might decipher. And by the way, Stock is adamant about his fliers (“No Photoshop. Cut, paste and Xerox only!” So old school . . .). Much of what they play is familiar, but just as much is obscure, even weird. Still, as the American Bandstand kids used to say, it all has a good beat and you can dance to it.
You can usually catch two bands at PTP before the dance-floor frenzy begins at midnight, and Stock says he books through word of mouth, by encouraging bands to bring in tapes, and even through MySpace. Live faves have included Indian Jewelry, Teenage Frames, Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda, not to mention guest DJs such as Creation Records’ Alan McGee (who’ll be there this week). The arty, mostly retro aesthetic has become so popular that lately, rival promoters have been coveting these types of acts too, many from hipster Hollywood clubs — which the guys see as the antithesis of PTP. Still, White’s main goal with the club has always been about “being inclusive, not exclusive.”
Their open attitude has served them well. The boys have just been invited to deejay every Saturday night in July for MOCA’s Night Vision celebration of Robert Rauschenberg’s upcoming exhibit (they were a hit when they spun at Basquiat’s show). They also hope to start their own label, modeled after Manchester’s Factory Records, featuring bands who play the club. Clearly, even part-time party people can start a movement.
See www.parttimepunks.com for more info.