L.A. the Blog: Local Band ‘Gangi’ Exploring the Frontier Of Electronica

Not too long ago during a free show at the Bootleg Theater, L.A. the Blog came across local musicians Matt Gangi and Eric Chramosta, who play together as the band Gangi packing the stage area and filling the dark space with solid sounds in a live show that deserves respect.  Taking electronic music’s signature downbeats and electro-acid fills combined with some impressive live drumming by Eric, and psychedelic guitar, vocals and keyboards by Matt, the duo impressively drew all the technical elements together into a performance well worth experiencing.

Most reminiscent of the pysch-pop sounds of bands like Phantogram and more experimental psychedelic bands such as Animal Collective, Gangi finds a nice middle where they incorporate less of a pop sound, keeping the heavy and fast drums and/or guitar of rock’ n’ roll, while not falling into experimental limbo with enough hard electronic rhythms tempered by the psychedelic lyrics and keyboard to create songs that kept the crowd gasping for more.

Besides the great music at the show, L.A. the Blog was even more impressed watching them put the songs together.  Whether it was Eric pounding out the electronic bass lines on drum pads to loop during his own drum solos, or Matt switching from keyboard to guitar while providing the electro-acid background noise through any numerous distortion and frequency devices, their energy held the show together.

We shot some video with our trusty mobile device, and are happy to share.  So you don’t judge them by our crappy video, below also find a music video that the band posted to their own site gangimusic.com.  You can also find them on facebook and myspace!

If you get a chance head down to the Sunset Junction 2012 Jubilee on Sunday, May 27th, and catch them at El Cid for a show at 5 p.m.  You can also check their band page for other upcoming shows.  Well worth your time.

Gangi live Bootleg Theater – L.A. the Blog

L.A. the Blog: Unique L.A. and the Story of the Custom Shirt

Unique L.A. is back!  Yes, the third annual holiday shop-a-thon of everything that comes from independent designers.  Perhaps its handmade in a persons garage; sold from a roaming bike store; and/or made from recycled goods (think junk mail from some established store like Macy’s).  It has everything Do-It-Yourself and indie, well almost everything that is!

Unique L.A. - California Market Center

Shoppers stood under the Christmas tree that decorates the halls of the California Market Center as they waited for the 3rd Annual Unique L.A. design showcase.

Unique L.A., held on Dec. 11th and 12th, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., takes over the top floor of the California Market Center (CMC) that sits in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ fashion district. L.A. the Blog managed to catch the first half-day of action.

Like all good fashion crowds they studiously showed up for the bonanza well before the elevators opened forming a solid line of around 200 people.  It costs $10 just to get into the event, perhaps $6 to $10 for parking, so plan on at least spending $20, especially if you want something to drink while at the show.  Luckily at it’s up 13 floors so you at least get a nice view for the money.  Yes the infamous 13th floor, and no the CMC didn’t skip the number.

826LA Unique L.A. Booth

826LA setup shop at Unique L.A. selling books, posters, time travel stuff, etc ...

It’s notable that 10 percent of the door proceeds went to 826LA, a nonprofit the event sponsored.  My favorite item at the 826LA booth, the All My Friends Are Dead illustrated book by Avery Monsen and Jory John (also available on Amazon and truly funny!).  826LA offers tutoring and creative writing workshops after schools let out for those young, vivacious maniacs howling through the streets (yes I evoked Ginsberg).

Let’s get to the point.  The most striking thing about the show:  too many shirts and not a hint of pants.  You would think that people only wear tops and walk around naked from the waist down.  Detroit Sprinkles Cassette DesignIt offered sweaters, hats, t-shirts, gloves, hoodies (like those cool Detroit ones), pins for your hoodies, neat feather headwear, but not one good pair of jeans.  Or at least not easily found jeans (did anyone sell pants there?).  Wait, there was a sock booth where you could buy socks, and headdresses.

T-shirts at Unique L.A.

T-shirt designs on display at Unique L.A.

The second foible to my perfect day, the price.  As an independent design showcase with many of the items handmade, t-shirts printed by hand, original artwork hand painted, the asking price stood a little higher than the $5 to $10 dollar shirts that you can find just outside the event everyday on the street.

The quality however and the unique feel of everything, the chance to wear a one-off shirt screams at the fashion diva in as all.  IntelligentsiaHell though even the food was expensive.  Coffee cost $4.  Enough said.  Roasted in SoCal, and sold at the newest coffee shop fad in L.A. – Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea – it even wears the mantle indie D.I.Y.   The coffee isn’t even Fair Trade, it’s better. Direct Trade.

Highlights of the show:  the hunt for something affordable, or also known as the best bargain in the show.  The live DJ.  A shop that sold items from recycled garbage.  Of course let’s not forget the hip people cruising around.  While not everyone came decked out in fashion forward mode, there was some jewels of creativity within the shoppers.  Stay tuned for updates!!!

Stuffed cat

Yes, this cat was once alive! It adorned a jewelry display and I can't tell you how much cuter it would be if it was still alive : (

L.A. The Blog: A Look at the Los Angeles Derby Dolls

It was a dark and stormy night, wait … that’s a lie.  It was like any other winter night in Los Angeles – bicyclists taking to the streets in large groups, indie bands playing behind thrift stores, a mass brawl and stabbing at a USC vs. UCLA football game.

Nothing out of the ordinary except the 2010 LOS ANGELES DERBY DOLL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

L.A. Derby Dolls Logo

If you see this famous skull and crossbones then you know you are in L.A. Derby Doll territory.

Yes, that’s right Saturday, December 4, saw the showdown that brought the Southern California Derby Dolls together under one roof as the Los Angeles Tough Cookies took on the San Diego Swarm for bragging rights as to who gets the title of the best girls on skates.

As roller derby goes the all-female (hence the name) Los Angeles Derby Dolls skate on a banked track.  This makes the action more exciting as the speed, the falls and the wins seem ever so much sweeter.  It also makes the Derby Dolls one of the few leagues in the Unites States that skate on such a track.  Wikipedia even claims that in the United States there are only five other such leagues.

The Tough Cookies skating on the banked track.

The L.A. Tough Cookies skate around the banked track to warm up for the second half.

I want to make a disclaimer here for while there are other “Derby Doll” leagues in this wonderful and wide world, I have maybe preemptively named the Los Angeles Derby Dolls (LADD) part of the Southern California Derby Dolls (a nonexistent league) that would be composed of the San Diego Derby Dolls (SDDD) with the LADD, and the soon to be Orange County Derby Dolls (OCDD).  Notice the last acronym is close to OCD, which this whole paragraph might be considered.

To end the suspense, the Tough Cookies put down the Swarm with a stunning 148 to 106 victory.  Now this was my first roller derby, but I follow basketball and when you win by 40 points, especially in a championship game that means you dominated the other team.

The Tough Cookies obviously had the home-track advantage as last years champions.  They also won in 2008.  So when they got a lucky break in the first half with a heavily penalized San Diego team loosing players to the gruesome death-squad referees (is that their name?); it was somewhat of a surprise when the Cookies only led by 4 at the half.  Without the Swarm picking up those penalties it could have been the Cookies down by 40.

The champions however showed the rough and tumble team that you would expect to win-it-all as they used some well placed penalties and Krissy Krash’s dominating defense to thin out the Swarms ranks in the second half.

The San Diego Swarm

The San Diego Swarm taking a quick team meeting before the 2010 championship game.

Perhaps like all roller derby the usual tripping, shoulder blocks, and in the case of the Tough Cookies, crowd taunting occurred.  Cool heads prevailed in the end as penalties continued to hurt the Swarm leading to multiple ejections from the game in the second half.  Or as the announcer said, “there seems to be some kind of deadly disease going around thinning out the hive.”

Possibly the best thing about the LADD jam other than the beautiful people in derby attire everywhere is the plethora of sites that make up a normal night for the dolls.  At halftime a metal/punk band with some actual talent played for the fans, even though I never caught their name so who cares anyway (sorry good band that played!!!!).  Hot Dog On A Stick sold its famous breaded delights, my personal favorites, along with other food trucks that posted in the parking lot.  (IS IT TRUE THAT THE FOOD TRUCKS GOT THE TABLES REMOVED FROM THE SIDEWALK IN FRONT OF ABOTT’S PIZZA CO!!!  I WILL KILL!!!).

Roller derby girls check out the band.

The amount of t-shirts, knickknacks, and memorabilia along with pure energy of the game fulfilled my need for commercial exploitation that I get at all sports events.  They also sold beer for those inclined to down a cold one.  All-in-all I give the whole night 5-stars and if you have a roller derby in your town (New York??) I say go support the beautiful women as the punch it out.

Oh yeah as the Los Angeles Times reported in 2008 that Alex Cohen from NPR was a roller girls, too bad you can’t read the first few paragraphs on my Firefox browser because some stupid Google ad!!!  You can check the article for a breakdown of the rules in simple form, too.

Also, if you are in Chicago on December 11 check out the L.A. Derby Dolls as they compete against the Windy City Rollers in the Red Bull Banked Jam.  GO L.A.!!!  Stab someone in the parking lot to show how we do in the City of Sin (no don’t I was joking).

Also, last interesting fact – an L.A. Derby Doll wrote the script for the movie “Whip It!” and the dolls skated in that movie.  I love you Derby Dolls!!!

The Girls Going RoundThe LA Derby Doll stage

Artwork at the L.A. Derby Doll track