Last week got off to a great start with Monday night’s Refused show at The Fonda. But Friday wasn’t bad, either. I got to attend a free matinee by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at a local radio station and then saw some friends at The Smell.
When this particular gig was posted by JSBX on FaceBook a couple of days before, I sent an email to the contact, and actually received an invite to attend the performance at a ClearChannel building in Burbank. Weird but cool, right? The performance took place in a black box of a small room with a cozy stage and a few rows of pillows to sit on, but a full-on mixing board and pro speakers. Russell Simins played drums on a flipped-over tall recycling bin. The trio only played a few songs but they were heavy, including “Black Mold” and “Black Thoughts,” with references to Sandy’s recent damage to their hometown of New York City and neighboring states. JSBX is national treasure of punk rock ‘n’ soul, and they seem like cool dudes, too. We dozen or so guests weren’t allowed to snap pictures of the performance but Judah and Jon were totally down for a quick photo afterward. Rad! Definitely catch them on tour with the mighty Quasi if you can. And if I ever go to another show at the station, I’m totally taking Eloise…
Before starting his set, Keith Morris explained why OFF! wanted to have its eponymous LP release show at the Whisky. Even though the Sunset Strip landmark is now a cheesy venue that seems more concerned with selling drinks to poseurs and T-shirts to tourists than rad shows, it is a symbol of L.A.’s matchless musical history from psychedelic rock like the Doors and Love to first-generation punks the Germs and X to more recent metal shows that even I saw like Guns ‘n’ Roses and Michael Monroe (not to mention touring bands like SNFU, Scream, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, NOFX, and Green Day, as well as the first Descendents reunion shows…). Add to that OFF!
Openers Spider Fever seemed to soak up some of the venue’s psychedelic past with the elevated stage and high-end light system actually adding some unintentional-yet-not-inappropriate flair to their tweaked take on garage rock ‘n’ roll. I saw OFF! drummer Mario Rubalcaba front the band with his upside-down guitar and no-nonsense singing before playing with Hot Snakes not long ago, but this show seemed even tighter and actually more fun. After seeing the band a few times, it almost seems like the meeting point of many of Mario’s bands: the balls-out rock of RFTC, psychedelic aspects of Earthless, rawness of Clikatat Ikatowi, and energy of OFF! I was stoked to pick up the band’s amazing full-length LP, and you should get it, too.
The LA Natural History Museum isn’t as large as what you might see in NYC, but it does have a First Friday program featuring an open museum and separate admission for the bands who were in this case, Mariachi El Bronx and El Haru Kuroi. Both great bands sporting a Latin flavor. The sound isn’t at it’s best inside of a museum, but the energy was high and the bands played great.
Yet, the museum itself is a spectacle. On a first friday you can check it out for the price of admission, but do be careful. $10 parking. Why so high? Perhaps it’s because the museum has been redone and each of the sections I got to see looked spectacular. Clean, up to date and of course a great section on dinosaurs which is a must have if you’re going to boast natural history. Impressive and unlike the musty aired museum I remembered from way back. The gorilla at bottom looks real.
The skeletons look as good as they do anywhere else. The collection here is no joke and it’s probably highly underrated.