Garage-rock trio Sunday Times has split up, drummer Ryan Hand told CityBeat this week. “We all have different priorities at the moment,” he explained in a Facebook message. Hand is currently trying to open a moped shop, and bassist Ryan White plans to move to Austin, Texas. North Park Music Thing “was gonna be his last show with us as we looked for a replacement. We feel bad about canceling last minute, but Ryan’s heart just wasn’t in it.” Hand adds: “I’m not interested in being in a genre-specific project anymore. But I have a few tricks up my sleeve with fellow local musicians I hold in high esteem.” Singer / guitarist Junior hernandez did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Gutter punks mourning the loss of Radio Room now have a new punk-rock dive to look forward to. The Shakedown Bar is set to open on Sept. 1. Hoping to “create a rock n roll nightmare unlike any other,” according to the bar’s website, the owners plan to sell a variety of malt liquors; play old skate videos, band footage and vintage biker and hotrod movies on a projector; and book punk bands like The Adicts, U.S. Bombs and The Bugs. The bar is located at 3048 Midway Drive in the Sports Arena area.
View from a Stool
I kept my critical faculties. I took copious notes. I fulfilled my duties as reporter and critic. In the end, North Park Music Thing won me over.
I moderated a demo-review session and sat through the keynote address by Kim Fowley, the notorious 71-year-old impresario, who brought singers up to the stage, had them sing hooks from their best songs and then gave them a mix of useful and strange advice. But the highlight came with the two-night music showcase, during which more than 160 artists performed at 14 venues across North Park, South Park, Normal Heights and Hillcrest.
To say it simply, my Friday night was fucking epic: I caught six sets at as many venues, including a house party attended by almost every cool person in the local music scene. For me, Americana ruled the night: At Claire De Lune, Miss Erika Davies channeled the spirit of Billie Holiday with her warbling song, her hands instinctively waving and fluttering with the music. And The Silent Comedy turned U-31 into a house of worship, driving a packed room of drunken congregants into histrionics with a hard-rocking set full of amens and hallelujahs and culminating with a version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
My Saturday, on the other hand, featured more forward sounds. At Soda Bar, the always-intriguing Heavy Hawaii had the sunny disposition of The Beach Boys as they banged out dissonant pop slime that you could interpret either as bad musicianship, hilarious parody or cutting-edge experimental rock. One of them broke a guitar string early in the set, but I wouldn’t have noticed. Later, L.A.’s Abe Vigoda closed the night with a lengthy set of arty poprock with sparkly synth melodies, convulsive post-punk beats and mutant-like reverb-drenched guitars. They’ve come a long way since the one-dimensional “tropical punk” of their debut, Skeleton. They still have that humid feel, but theirs is darker and better than so many other beach0loving buzz bands.
Will musicians who attended the conference actually get the recognition they’re pining for? It’s hard to say. Fowley later told me that he came across only seven artists “worth being in movies or in music.”
Did the music showcase work like clockwork? No. The biggest complaint I heard was that some venues mucked up some festivalgoers’ itineraries by pushing back their schedules.
But judging by the sheer number of smiles and hugs and drinks shared through the weekend, I’d conclude that North Park Music Thing was a success: It was just a damn good time.
The Enrique Experience
It was an intense, sweaty jaunt. I was twirling about manically as if suffering from electro scabies under a sheet with sewn-in Christmas lights that closely hovered over the crowd gathered on The Casbah’s dance floor last week.
Williamsburg’s The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! had just ended their frantic hipster-disco set, transforming the venue into a fullblown winter wonderland. With multicolored light strands galore and light-up snowman statues aplenty, the venue looked as if Mrs. Claus had queefed all over it and then ordered the elves to sprinkle tinsel on top.
Yet, with all their kitsch and schizophrenic sing-alongs, it was the opening act, consisting of a lone girl with a cocktail drum kit, that stole the show.
“Hello, I’m Smile Now Cry Later,” a somewhat timid Lizeth Santos-Roberts said as she took the stage. With red lipstick that looked like it could last for days and dressed in a black wife-beater and a skirt she’d sewn herself hours earlier, any hint of diffidence was thrown out the window as soon as the first beat of her of nu-Mexi-hiphop anthem “Big Booty Butt” started to play.
With a range reminiscent of a young Gwen Stefani and a style all her own, the Selena-by-way-of-Debbie Harry chanteuse brought down the house (which included her No. 1 fan, husband Rafter Roberts, also a performer that night) with a sui generis set list featuring a cover of Debbie Deb’s Lookout Weekend, an old-school favorite of Santos-Roberts.
“It was the ultimate quinceañera jam when I was growing up—the one song that would always make everyone dance,” said the self-taught musician who’s currently recording her first album. “And that’s what I want my performances to be— memorable dance parties.”
Citing everything from low-rider oldies to The Kinks as inspiration, the one-woman band made good on her promise to deliver “exuberant excitement,” dripping raw sexuality with every note. Who knew hitting a maraca with a drumstick could be so damn sexy?
No crystal ball needed; this chick is gonna be huge. No one believes me when I say that a then-unknown Lady Gaga performed on my birthday at an L.A. club three years ago.
It’ll be a proud day when someone shakes their head in disbelief when I attest to witnessing Santos- Roberts’ rise, as well.
Smile Now Cry Later takes over Jivewire at The Casbah on Sept. 5.
Greg Gibson’s music is good on its own, but add a little Jamuel Saxon and you have something that has the potential to be as viral as a cutecat video. Go to greggibsonmusic .com and listen to “Settle Down (Jamuel Saxon Remix).” It’s a pretty little ditty that sounds like it could be on the soundtrack of Zach Braff ’s next movie.