On Saturday night, the HUF warehouse hosted a reception for the singly named Haroshi. But the Tokyo sculptor isn’t some poseur who simply paints on skateboards or appropriates the culture for street cred. His pieces (made out of used boards by DLX team riders in this particular case) actually capture and convey the energy and power of skating from a skater’s point of view. Probably the smoothness, too, although rent-a-cops were stationed to keep guests from fondling the art.
One of the first guys I saw upon entering the HUF warehouse in Downtown L.A. was Money Mark, who brought me over to Haroshi. One cool dude introducing me to another. Mark was slated to jam with with friends Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, and Fredo Ortiz later on that night.
The sculptures were based on the skaters whose used boards they were made of. For example, that’s Torey Pudwell’s arm flipping the bird, tattoos and all. Pudwell actually tied with Dylan Rieder in a contest where guests were invited to ollie over the fire hydrant sculpture (and sign the piece afterward). I missed it, but appreciated the wheat-pasted skate photography on the warehouse’s walls depicting fire hydrant tricks.
The musicians plugged in around 9:15, and Tommy Guerrero said, “Consider this a night at the improv.” But they weren’t goofing around. For around 90 minutes, the combo played a raging mix of rock, funk, and soul. Totally unlike the jazzy, loopy stuff–which was totally amazing when Tommy and Ray played at Scribble and Scripture way back in 2003–I heard hints of Thin Lizzy and Funkadelic. Sweaty and heavy.
I think it was Fredo Ortiz who really charged the combo. He’s played and sat in with everyone from the Beastie Boys to Los Lobos and Tenacious D–not to mention Tommy and Mark–and he pushed extra hard all night. Each of musicians is a real master, and it was cool to see them riff off each other and set each other off in a casual but intense setting.
I hitched a ride with my friend Happy Tsugawa-Banta, who has played with Ray at countless shows including my wedding. So it was extra cool to see Tommy ask Mark to hand her a tambourine (above).
The musicians were visibly fried by the end of the set, but Keith Hufnagel himself came out and asked them to play Haroshi’s guitar sculpture. After Ray did some serious tuning, they took turns, playing soulfully but also a little gingerly. Did Nike’s Phil Knight really purchase the piece for $20,000+?
You might still be able to score some of the very cool HUF x Haroshi x DLX gear online but the event has gone the way of the second-hand smoke, taco wagon fumes, and ringing ears. An incredible night in Downtown L.A. surrounded a ton of old and new friends–many whom I couldn’t even get to say hi to because I was either staking out a spot by the band like a fanboy or digging the set.