L.A. the Blog: ‘Grimes’ At Make Music Pasadena 2012

Indie Rock Stage

Old Pasadena Indie Rock Stage as the Cults perform – Make Music Pasadena, Saturday, June 16, 2012

Last weekend L.A. the Blog visited Make Music Pasadena 2012 to listen to recording-artist Grimes perform live. Tipped off about the show well-worth seeing and scheduled for the 5 o’clock hour, we arrived via the Metro Gold Line from downtown at 4:30 p.m. right near the main stage as the Cults finished their set. As a free event, the city of Pasadena definitely knows how to throw a good party, and the main stage area with great sound and a stellar lineup made concerts look fun again. The Cults sounded amazing and left an ache inside for missing the majority of their show.

The point of heading into conservative Pasadena wasn’t the Cults, though, nor was the reason we came performing on the Indie Rock stage. At this point, describing how Make Music Pasadena works will help understand the sheer scale of the event. The main stage area drew a humongous crowd stretching two blocks down the middle of old town Pasadena’s main drag Colorado Boulevard. They closed off the street at the stage but not the whole downtown area for the event, as streets leading off in various directions remained open for traffic. This way business and life went on as the concert rocked. Five smaller stages setup in various directions from the main stage, ranging from a few blocks to 10 blocks away, allowed for more bands with a wider variety of genres. From a Jazz stage to straight Rock ‘n’ Roll with old-time Blues and Funk mixed in between the event offered a bit of everything for everybody. Six stages are just the tip of the iceberg as different bars, the local library, coffee shops, a book store, the playhouse and even a church opened their doors to different musicians. In total over 30 venues setup for live acts and the number of musicians can make the head spin. A little something for everyone – literally.

Grimes on stage

Grimes singing live on stage to adoring fans during her performance at Make Music Pasadena, June 16, 2012.

So heading over to the Eclectic Stage, aptly name with KCRW as a sponsor (the stage highlighted a DJ set by their own Jason Bentley who hosts their signature morning show Morning Becomes Eclectic), we arrived just as local-based Dengue Fever finished up and Grimes setup for her show. Eclectic indeed as Dengue Fever plays tunes best understood as music suited for the old, silent film ‘Lost World” (literally); and Grimes represents the heart and soul (or call it rhythm and blues if you like) of electronic music with driving deep bass and ethereal vocals that easily capture the mind as well as emotion. Originally from the underground Montreal music scene dating back to 2006 Claire Boucher (aka – Grimes) recently moved to the L.A. area, that is if the Blog heard her announcement correctly, bringing with her a style of music both intense and alive in a synthesis of pop, punk and rave culture. A well-needed infusion of fresh talent to shake up the music scene in sunny Southern California.

Not to mention that young boys and girls love her – really, never have so many teenage boys and early-20’s men screamed for attention at a beautiful lady with pink hair. This writer understands for no one is a bigger sucker for a girl with pink hair, or blue, or red, or purple for that matter. Highlights of the show include the crowd surfers who kept popping up and the young dancing fan who jumped on the stage, well, dancing. As security removed the fan, Grimes between verses told security to let him stay to no avail. Even as they roughed him up she voiced her support.

The only hitch of the entire show came from the horrible sound system provided for the stage. The lows and highs played alright through the speakers but all the mid-level tones arrived muddied and weak. Even so the show definitely left an impression, and if it is an example of things to come, Grimes promises to deliver many more memorable events. Check out video we shot on our trusty cell phone, and since its a crap video we are placing a link below to an official music video of the same song.

L.A. the Blog: ‘Skaters Rule’ Artshow Echo Park

A variety of images adorn the wall paying tribute to skateboarding in the Bureau of Arts and Culture gallery in Echo Park mixing memorabilia with original art in a presentation simply thought of as ‘Skaters Rule.’

Southern California (all California even) spews and spawns skateboard and surf culture as if the constant sunshine keeps society from coagulating boys and girls into traditional sports like a hereditary hemophilia disorder. With skateboard culture comes the unique artwork that splashes T-shirts, adorns the bottom of skate decks, and fills the pages of magazines. Inspired and pulling from this plethora of creativity throughout the decades, local artists in Echo Park put together a gallery show of personalized skates, iconic collages and classic memorabilia.

The majority of the show consists of a variety of art styles hand painted or printed on the bottom of skateboard decks, from classic movies star images to the 70s-esque retro design of clean colorful lines against a background colorfield. This ‘bottom-deck’ (not to be mistaken for ‘low-brow’) creativity extended into an ambitious 3-D installation of a deck spinning from a chord attached to the roof, painted with a glossy enamel in glowing black-light colors (ultraviolet light included), showing the famous Natas SMA pentagram repeated from top-to-bottom, and includes 3-D glasses for added audience participation.

In another area of the gallery the back wall is dedicated strictly to skateboard history. From an old helmet to a great collection of vintage magazines and letters the viewer takes a trip down memory lane while paying homage to the legends who innovated the sport.

Last a small but favorite part of the gallery show includes traditional canvas and collage paintings that juxtaposes the art of skating with recognizable images that normally don’t mix. A Pac-Man ghost jumping on a deck, or an African native rolling through the Sahara on a board? Both these particular pieces of art you easily imagine on a modern skateboard, and might see someday in the future.

The Bureau of Art and Culture, located at 1282 W Sunset Blvd, Echo Park, CA 90026, presents ‘Skaters Rule’ through the month of June every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. Below find a slideshow of various pictures of the opening:

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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