Show reviews: OFF! at Amoeba; howardAmb, Bobb Bruno, Sandy Yang, and DSS at The Smell; Ray Barbee and Paul Kwon at Pacific Standard 2; RFTC and Dan Sartain at The Echoplex
Whoa, the new OFF! album is a beast and Tuesday’s record release in-store at Amoeba Hollywood kicked ass. Not some lukewarm sampler but a full-on, raging 16-song set! Of course for this particular band that adds up to about 30 minutes but damn. Quality minutes of world-class hardcore punk from the originals, measured with Sabbathian darkness and riffs. (more…)
Giant Robot 2
The FlipBooKit Show
April 26 – May 14, 2014
Reception: Saturday, April 26, 6:30-10 PM
Venture into the world of amazing art – that moves! Giant Robot Artists and creators of FlipBooKit team up to bring their art to life.
The work of over 40 artists, animators and sculptors will be showcased in the first official FlipBooKit show. Featuring hand-cranked miniature movie machines, the FlipBooKit presents animated art in a tangible, physical form. Experience the revival of this nostalgic art form as it breathes life into the moving picture in a whole new way.
First Official “FlipBooKit” Exhibition with art by:
APAK, Aya Kakeda, Aaron Brown, Jeffrey Brown, Stasia Burrington, Sean Chao, Shawn Cheng, Luke Chueh, Eleanor Davis, David Horvath, Mari Inukai, KMNDZ, Jerome Lu, Cassia Lupo, Monkmus, Kwanchai Moriya, Rob Sato, Deth P Sun, Katsuya Terada, Jesse Tise, Scott Tolleson, Yoskay Yamamoto, Jeni Yang.
Heather Cardone, Rachel Koukal, Tanja Rector, Neil Sanders, Hoppip, Tom Bunker, Patrick Burnell, Csaba Klement, Carmen Luceno, Jeremy Sengly, Jason Clarke, Tiffany England, Ofelia Marquez, Pernille Kjaer, Hope Kroll, Alexandar Lansang, Buster Moody, Daniel Pagan, Colin Raff, Akio Segawa, Cindy Suen, Alexander S. White, Elaine Chen, Elena Renn, Metalnat Hayes, Natalie Gamble, Xray Dreams and More.
For any additional information: See FlipBooKit.com
or feel free to contact Eric Nakamura: [email protected]
David choe cranks out a mural of SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot at OMCA. It’s coming soon. Reception April 18th. I shot this with an old iPhone 4 and stitched it together. Music is by Goh Nakamura.
Here’s more info.
“Solo show” and “Artist” aren’t two things that go along with my name, but for an evening on Sunday March 30th, I heard it a few times. First, it’s a “solo show”, but “artist” feels like a stretch. I shot photos for pure fun in the late 80s and early to mid 90s. I wanted to keep improving the images and the craft mattered to me. When walking into a venue, I did two things, first, a quick scan of the best vantage points and then I’d figure out how to capture the essence of the band or show. The show mattered too, but I was hell-bent on trying to get an image that captured something great.
This was before cellphones, selfies, and iPads. It was before sd cards, thumb drives, and uploading photos to a blog. This was manual photography, processing film, and hand printing on an enlarger. It was shot in black and white and not Photoshopped into black and white. Contrast was added with a filter, dodging and burning was done by hand, and there were plenty of test strips, fiber photo paper, 4 blade easels, Dektol, stop bath, fixer, hypo-clear, washing, and finally drying.
Who knew that 20+ years after shooting the pics, I would have an exhibition of some of the shots at my favorite cafe – Balconi Coffee. It started off innocently. I’ve been keeping a left-eye out for the negatives, but never bothered to really look. I’m into moving forward, not backwards. Then one day less than two months ago, I opened a random box and there they were – about half of the negatives and more than enough for an exhibition. After showing a couple of shots to friend and curator, Kio Griffith, he suggested a low-pressure exhibition.
It took me a while to figure out what mattered most about my time shooting photos of bands. It wasn’t all about the music or the musicians at all. It was something larger – the scene that housed it all. The kids, the venues, the details in between, and the stories that went with it. Throughout my photos, there’s plenty of “us” in the crowd watching the bands at the venues, and that’s as close to capturing the entire scene in just one shot. It was a great era for punk and indie rock.
Giant Robot Time for this week.
Come and see Suspects at GR2!
New music. Not from publicists (although I appreciate their good looks) but friends! Mario, Fredo, and Adam are not only rad drummers but the raddest dudes. And my new pals in BC/BC are the best, too. But I actually bought all of the official releases because music is worth paying for–especially from homies.
Rocket From The Crypt – Hits 6 x 7″
While not as coveted as the “He’s a Chef” split-single with Wayne Coyne and Biz Markie, these one-sided city-specific 7″ singles are quite rad for any RFTC fan. And while the series of covers originally sold at European tourstops is called Hits, the songs aren’t exactly household names–except for maybe Venom’s “In League with Satan.” Somehow, RFTC’s version channels both a conga line and “Sympathy for the Devil”! Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” is probably the most-played song of the originals, although I know it better from the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa meets Bleeding Gums. Rocket’s version is unironic, epically long, and especially cool. The Buzzcocks are probably my favorite band to get the treatment, but “Love Is Lies” is not a single going steady but a cut from Love Bites. The way it starts off mellow and become epic reminds me of a Tom Jones or Neil Diamond anthem. Wow. The San Diego band’s take on Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s “Spinning Round” nicely contrasts a dark, plucky goth bassline with its trademark heavy horns sound. Covering the Boomtown Rats’ “My Blues Away” is definitely more interesting than taking on that other band from Dublin. More garage rockin’, for sure. Out of all of the bands from London, Status Quo is similarly bold choice but the take on “Shy Fly” cements the band’s links to the tradition of pub rock. The Casbah counts as a pub, right? Buy your set of singles from the merch table like I did at The Echoplex (pictured above) and help fill the Swami van’s tank on the road! [Swami Records]
Bongoloidz – S/T CD
Although Fredo Ortiz is best known for his percussion work for the Beastie Boys, his Kickstarter-funded solo project starts off more like Fluf or late Jawbreaker than the Atwater-based (at the time) rappers. Songs like “Subtle Breeze” and “Sompniphobia” are guitar-powered cruisers straight out of the early ’90s and totally rule, but other songs show other facets of the multi-instrumentalist’s abilities, sounds, and tastes. “Japon” has an electro groove complete with processed vocals, “Sk8 Dance” has a cool dark wave feel, and “Facky Freak” has a cumbia vibe (my favorite live song). There’s even some Taiko action! If it sounds like the songs are all over the place, that’s because they are. Yet they all sound great together because Fredo is no dabbler: The multitude of styles comes straight from Fredo’s huge heart and talented fingertips. Very cool cover art by Mackie Osborne, too. [El Bomber Records]
California – Live Recordings
Recently, I received a mysterious package of live recordings (not demos) of a new band featuring Adam from Jawbreaker and J Church, Dustin from The Insides, and Jason from Monsula, Pinhead Gunpowder, and Green Day. Who else is on the songs, where they were recorded, and how far the band will go is unclear but I’m digging the music. “More like Big Star than Big Drill Car,” I was warned and I have no problem with that. “Woodson Lateral” could be an allusion to the much-loved Oakland Raider but its patient groove goes better with driving down the I-5 than driving to the end zone. It’s rootsy but not dusty, with cool breakdowns. “Almost Home” has a little more twang and bashing and is mostly smooth with Tom Petty-like asides. Bitchin’. “Hate The Pilot” is the probably heaviest, punchiest song of the batch, and contemplates what happens after not killing the messenger. I swear there’s some Mick Jones-style riffing at the end. So good, so what’s next for this un-Googleable band? [Blackball, Adeline, or the highest bidder]
Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Boss Lady 7″
My pal Aaron told me that his girlfriend was in a punk band that just signed to Fat so I had to check them out. In only took a few seconds of listening to the band’s debut 7″ for Fat to realize that the title of this single doesn’t refer to The Man but the badass women of the band itself. They are bosses and their songs are as personal as they are tight as they are rocking–proof that aggro and melodic aren’t mutually exclusive. With killer drums that recall Bad Religion, buzzsaw guitars, and supremely confident gang vocals that are harmonized as they are pissed off, the San Pedro band attacks crappy exes, stupid dudes in the pit, squares on the street, and anyone else who might be uncomfortable with their unapologetic punk rockness circa the early ’90s. “Asshole” is a killer song that you’ll never get to hear on the radio, so you better catch ‘em live or buy the record. [Fat Wreck Chords]
Perhaps you remember the Q&A with photographer Greg Girard way back in Giant Robot 22. It delved into City of Darkness, the amazing coffee table book he made with fellow photographer Ian Lambot exposing the interconnected maze of adjacent buildings and connecting alleys that made up Kowloon Walled City. The ultra-dense city block was notorious among Hong Kongers for being separate from building codes and law enforcement alike, and was made famous in movies such as Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express and Johnny Mak’s Long Arm of the Law. So I was stoked when Greg recently informed me that a redesigned edition of the book is in the works.
While locals didn’t seem to care much when when Kowloon Walled City was leveled in 1993 to make space for a shiny new airport, Greg says that he and Lambot have been impressed by “the unexpected ways in which it was turning up as an obvious inspiration in popular culture, and also being referenced in architecture, urban theory and other areas.” So on 20th anniversary of the demolition they decided to update and expand City of Darkness.
The revised edition will be 50 percent bigger than the original one (which was already a brick) and include never-before-seen photos as well as extra text derived from interviews with ex-cops who patrolled the area in the ’60s and ’70s as well as a government survey from the period which lists the exact number of brothels, opium dens, strip clubs, pornography theatres, and dog meat restaurants. Sounds amazing, right? Find out how to support the book–and perhaps get signed copy as well as an archival quality print–at the City of Darkness Revisited Kickstarter page.
The opening night for my exhibition, “B-Shots” was Sunday March 31st at Balconi Coffee in West LA. I imagined it would be myself and a few friends rolling through. It’s not an “art show”, as I imagine art shows. This is more of a document of a time period. The late 80s and early to mid 90s.
I was actually more impressed and thankful to the artists who came and lent support. Mari Inukai, Luke Chueh, Edwin Ushiro, Andrew Hem, Sean Chao, Rob Sato, Ako Castuera, Kris Chau, Leah Chun, and I know I’m forgetting some at this moment. There was so much talent in the room, it was overwhelming. It was also great to talk about the shows, the bands, and listen to some of them via a playlist. Also, I recognized Dee Plakas, the drummer of L7 in a group of folks who were checking it out. That was a holy shit moment! Although these photos are pulled from half of my negatives that I only recently found, I’m now bound to find the other half and compile an even larger collection some time soon.
That’s Kris Chau and Ako Castuera taking a look.
A note I wrote about the exhibition.
I made a zine for the exhibition, “From the Pit” along with a special display box made by Dirty Dean.
A group shot near the end. Thanks for coming through. I’ll add a bit more some time soon.
flicks by DJ Tony Jr.
Last Friday, I attended the media preview for the Mike Kelley retrospective at MOCA and it’s amazing–the biggest showing of the much-loved L.A.-based artist’s work ever. It started with an assortment of short speeches, starting off with new MOCA director Philippe Vergne calling it a homecoming after debuting at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and making stops in Paris and New York. Mary Clare Stevens, Executive Director of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts described the artist’s personal involvement in the show’s evolution and Ann Goldstein, the former director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and exhibition curator, added that the show began as related to theme but shifted to chronology upon the artist’s death in 2012.
MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson emphasized MOCA’s history of supporting the artist (who was part of the museum’s “First Show” and has been in almost 30 more including one that he curated) and added that the current stop includes a Chinatown-related piece that has never been shown in Los Angeles before. Framed and Frame (1999) is located on the upper floor, and challenges the audience with concepts of context but also alludes to the Downtown L.A. area’s punk rock history via sex and drugs paraphernalia mixed in with the traditional wishing well icons.
Another large piece is Kandors (2007-2011), a collection of sculptures of Superman’s hometown reimagined from various comic book pages. The reference to the alien city, shrunken by the iconic hero’s arch-enemy Braniac and kept under glass, is esoteric to many but is folklore to hardcore comic book readers. Kelley created a video installation mashing up the four-color hero with the goth poetry of Sylva Plath, but never realized his plan to introduce the Art Forum scene to the Comic-Con crowd online. (more…)
Ray Potes from Hamburger Eyes stopped in today to check out his prints. They’re gigantic and it’s part of a grid of photos being displayed in his section. Glad to see his curated images so large. I’m not sure how Hamburger Eyes is viewed everywhere, or if it’s viewed, but knowing the commitment to the craft of photography and taking it to the world of zines is amazing. Ray Potes and his crew do a lot for the world of photography. I’m proud of have them as part of this exhibition and it was great to see Ray for more than a few minutes since the LA Art Book Fair. I’ll see him again soon on April 18th.
Meanwhile, David Choe just about finished his mural. It’s amazing how people tried to get in by “delivering food”. Did you really think you’d get into the doors? Security stopped some strangers from getting in. This piece shows a lot of maturity of David Choe. Can a face be obscured? Does each line need to represent something? Can it be abstraction? The work slowly changes in a great way. Not everything needs to be literal and clear. Glad to work with him again. Meanwhile catch him on ViceTV.
OMCA will be diligently working onwards for the SuperAwesome exhibition.
I’m visiting the Oakland Museum of CA exhibition for the preparation SuperAwesome Art and Giant Robot. This might be the 6th or 7th visit now and counting and it’s looking great. I took a few pics of what’s going on including the already well documented mural by artist Andrew Hem who conducted great media appearances as well. The mural is huge and fitting for the space. It’s a rest spot at the entrance of the museum and people are already interacting with it. Great job Andrew! I’m glad to have him on board for it. See the extra photos for the details including his “giant robot” nod.
I’m at one end of the exhibition space that actually has more to the sides than I can show. There are some rooms that are getting cut off, including the entry way that contains Giant Robot highlights, the room with the Scion Famicar, a room with my personal collection of “stuff”, Adrian Tomine’s room, and so much more. But this photo tells a lot about how large the space really is. It’s 8000 square feet.
There’s David Choe painting. He’s quick. In a blink of an eye, he can cover a wall, then like Kaiser Soze, poof he’s gone. As many of you know, I’ve known him for ages and it’s almost like old times. The music: Explosions in the Sky, and he’s off painting.
The exhibition is coming together with the efforts of everyone involved and there are many of them. I can’t begin to thank the folks who helped, there’s just too many, but there’s still another few weeks of serious installing that’ll be happening. I’ll be on board to help.