Show reviews: It’s Casual, Bongoloidz, and Sandy Yang at Alex’s Bar; Limp Wrist, DNF, Fraude, and ACxDC at The Echoplex

The only other time I put together a show was a San Diego Comic-Con party with Flattbush, Upsilon Acrux, and The Binges with DJ sets by Free The Robots way back in 2009. Looking back, that was a pretty rad lineup! So it makes sense that Bradley from Flattbush would facilitate my second-ever gig. He serves drunks at Alex’s Bar but also books shows now and then. This one came together at the last minute and I am very grateful to my friends who put themselves out there during the deadest part of the holidays to take part.

First up was my old friend Sandy Yang. You might have caught her work with noisy or arty combos (The Red Krayola is both) but her solo gigs are rather rare. I recently caught her second one (at The Smell) in a few decades and was proud to present her third with members of HowardAmb and Tom Watson (The Red Krayola, Slovenly, Mike Watt’s Missing Men). I loved her deconstructed, understated vibe at The Smell but this show was something different altogether with extra confidence, power, and restraint courtesy of the guitar interplay and the HowardAmb guys channeling their rock roots. The Throbbing Gristle cover was amazing!

Next up was Bongoloidz, a.k.a. the solo project of Fredo Ortiz, who I’ve recently bumped into at Giant Robot Biennale 3 and the Refused/The Bronx show at the Fonda. You might have seen him play with everyone from The Bronx to Beastie Boys to Los Lobos–not to mention frequent jams with the likes of Money Mark, Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, or all of the above. His solo stuff ranges from punk rock to hip-hop to cumbia, and it turns out he and his crew can rip at all of the styles equally well in a live setting. So stoked that a guy who has gone on a tour with the Beasties, Sonic Youth, and Bikini Kill would play Long Beach’s finest dive bar and bond with me over Jawbreaker. So awesome.

Headlining the show was It’s Casual. Eddie Solis’s band just played a packed show at The Troubadour, so I was kind of surprised and amped that he would play this much smaller show. I guess it was fitting since this is where I was first blown away by It’s Casual, bought an LP, and became a fan and now a friend. As always, the local duo brought its ultra heavy yet cerebral brand skate rock with 110 percent energy: “The New Los Angeles,” “Too Many Kids,” and brand-new material off The New Los Angeles II. 2012 was a big year for the SST Records-inspired heshers with a new album, podcast, and a ton of press for “The Red Line” video by Rick Kosick, and this was a perfect way to usher in 2013.

Bonus review! The very next afternoon, I caught an all-ages crust and hardcore matinee at The Echoplex. I love seeing friends rip it up but sometimes you have to check out something new, and I had never caught any of the bands in this lineup. First up was ACxDC. Not the arena rock band that releases new material exclusively through Wal*Mart but SoCal’s own antiheroes of powerviolence. The latter probably encapsulates the “Highway to Hell” ethos better than the Australian band’s post-Bon Scott lineup with a brutally heavy and hard, dark, and awesome sound.

Fraude was next, mixing in MMA moves and tambourine into its stoner-positive hardcore sound. I’m serious! Very heavy, very different, and very cool. Bands like this and ACxDC are reasons to catch the openers, and these two in particular seem to play often on bills together. Check them out if they roll into your town and buy some 7″s off them.

DNF presented the most straightforward crusty hardcore of the evening, with little if any breakdowns or metal riffage. A nonstop barrage of grind and sludge without chit-chat or messing around, and featuring members of Trash Talk and Touche Amore. Of the openers, they easily drew the biggest and most raging pit. Because of their serious demeanor and guitarist wearing a Discharge shirt, I thought the acronym would stand for something like “Democracy’s Not Freedom” or “Denounce Non Facts” but it really stands for Duke Nukem Forever…

Finally, Limp Wrist. Singer Martin Sorrondeguy is a legend in political and Latino hardcore because of to his previous band Los Crudos. As Crudos flew the flag for the oppressed, Spanish-speaking punks on either side of any border, Limp Wrist is the hardest and heaviest queercore band around. Not cutesy about the gay experience like Pansy Division or ironic with Tom of Finland style like Turbonegro, but venting about homosexual oppression the same way a classic hardcore band would rail about Reagan or the A Bomb. The most raging hardcore possible from a guy dressed in a leather cap with short shorts.

Yesterday, my ears were still recovering from the back-to-back rad shows as I was driving around with Wendy and she remarked that she wishes she attended the recent King Tuff show with me. That was totally understandable because she had been working long hours and was on the cusp of being sick, but that got me thinking. Since my brother and I were taken by our dad to our first concert in 1983 (The Clash at the US Festival) there is a handful of shows that I will always regret missing (Love & Rockets at Fender’s and the final Ramones show at The Palace for starters). Yet I have never ever regretted going to one. Something to remember as you make your resolutions for 2013… Seeya at the next show.