Show Reviews: Save Music in Chinatown, Paisley Underground Reunion at the Fonda, Redd Kross at the El Rey, ASG at The Satellite, Channel 3 at Alex’s Bar

Photo: Ben Clark

I would have written about Sunday’s Save Music in Chinatown matinee at Human Resources earlier but I’ve been busy writing thank-you letters to friends, helpers, and supporters. The first DIY benefit gig that my wife and I organized to raise funds to pay for music education at our daughter’s school, Castelar Elementary, was awesome and Bob Forrest was a perfect start.

Photo: Ben Clark

The singer for Thelonious Monster and The Bicycle Thief played free-flowing, acoustic versions of songs by both bands as well as some covers (“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” into “Here Comes a Regular”!). But it was his in-between song banter about the importance of music, the arts, amd community that really set the tone for the rest of the show. Bob’s off-the-cuff, kid-friendly version of “Sammy Hagar Weekend,” was pretty great, too.

Photo: Ben Clark

Lucky Dragons were next and their experimental brand of electronic music was well-received to begin with. But when they asked the small circle of kids in the front row to handle homemade instruments that turned the audience members into instruments, that really blew their minds. It was a very cool moment, and it doesn’t suck at all that Luke and Sara are involved in the Human Resources art collective’s calendar committee…

Photo: Ben Clark

Deradoorian was a late addition to the lineup and she was rad. Coming off a tour with Animal Collective, it was very cool of her to play our little DIY show. It was even cooler that she played with her sister, Arlene. The harmonium-driven sound filled the ex-kung fu theater’s space with warmth and beauty, and so did the siblings’ harmonizing. Like the other bands, they were able to appeal to kids without dumbing down their sound in any manner. One little boy, who was particularly mesmerized, wandered up to the sisters more than once to rock out in front.

The experimental new music of LA Fog was last. The combo’s cool post punk jams were at once challenging and atmospheric, and a great way to wind down the afternoon. While we barely chipped away at Castelar’s $50,000 owed for music education this year (and looked ahead to next year’s fee of the same amount), we raised awareness, gathered the community, and started something. I can’t wait for the next one, also at Human Resources and in February.

A couple of nights before our Save Music in Chinatown benefit, Wendy and I attended the Paisley Underground Reunion show at The Fonda. I loved the L.A.-based, pyschedelic-inspired, post punk scene when it happened, and how cool was it that four of the era’s top bands got back together to benefit the music education nonprofit that works with Castelar! First up was Rain Parade, who got everyone into a groovy, strumming mood until The Dream Syndicate ripped it open with feedback leading into the Velvety riffs of “When You Smile.” I’ve always loved their tight melodies but forgot about how harsh they were live; “That’s What You Always Say,” “Halloween,” and “The Days of Wine and Roses” were amazing.

I saw The Three O’Clock a couple of months ago and loved it. This time they were way tighter, deeper in the groove, and actually having more fun. Not only total rock star moves (which I don’t even remember them doing back in the day) but way bigger smiles all around. They played most of Baroque Hoedown and a lot of songs off 16 Tamborines and s0unded better than ever.

The Bangles started with “Hazy Shade of Winter” and didn’t play anything newer than 1985. Well, maybe “Manic Monday” but that was mashed up with “I’m Waiting For My Man” which brings the average date down. They played everything off the EP plus “Hero Takes a Fall, “Going Down To Liverpool,” “Live”… Of the bands on the bill, The Bangles are the ones that play regularly and it showed in their workmanship. So it was nice to see them have fun by dusting off some old songs and then jamming with all of the members of the other bands–as well as Rodney on the Roq!

The covers set included songs by The Velvet Underground, The Seeds, The Monkees… It was a super special night with a great cause, and it was quite cool that music education at my daughter’s school was the beneficiary of benefits that I attended on Friday and Saturday.

A few nights before there was another L.A. music love fest at the El Rey. Cherry Glazerr went on first, and played a cool, dreamy set that set the stage for the full-on rock explosion that is Redd Kross.

Researching The Blues was a triumphant return for Redd Kross last year and the Burger cassette still hasn’t left my van since it came out. It combines the best of the band’s every stage (punk, garage rock, psychedelic, bubblegum pop) and is a beast in a live setting. And they still play “Blow You a Kiss in the Wind” as well as “Linda Blair”! Sadly, we didn’t make it to Mikal Cronin’s set…

I know it’s good to check out new bands every now and then, too, which I why I love the free Scion rock shows at the Satellite. They’re free, they’re right down the street from my house, and musicians are flown in from all over the place. How can I not check it out? As heard on ASG played some ass-kicking skate rock from North Carolina, and were well worth the walk. Plus Don Nguyen of the LSDJS and Listen To Volume Four always plays the raddest songs between sets…

This is getting too long, so I’ll keep this last review brief. Channel 3 hosted a Cerritos backyard-style show at Alex’s the Thursday before Thanksgiving and it was great. Joe Wood played first with his Lonely Ones, followed by the excellent Mike Eldred Trio (featuring the pummeling rhythm section of The Blasters). There are some heavy roots in there. In the house show tradition, there was mixing and matching of band members (Wood with the trio, above) and covers galore (“I’ll Have It My Way” by the Backstreet Boys).

Channel 3 have toured often this year (Europe, East Coast) and this time around they were as tight as they were casual. Cheap Trick and Ramones covers made it into the set and so did guest appearances including original bassist Larry Kelley. Great band, great dudes, and you can read more about the show at my Long Beach-based Psychic Temple blog… Did I mention that singer Mike Magrann was cool enough to help promote the Save Music in Chinatown show?

And that makes a full circle. Seeya at the next show. Weirdos anyone?