By Alfred Montez
Cinco de Mayo is here, along with Mother’s Day on Sunday and Fiesta Broadway all weekend long. Let’s see what is out there this week to help the party along.
Today on Cinco De Mayo, celebrations are being held all over the city, with many notable events on the Eastside. In Boyle Heights, Eastside Luv will be rotating the mariachis that roam the plaza across the street in and out of the bar from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. as DJ Bryan performs. There are rumors of free Pozole for some of the early birds. I might show up with my olla and see if I can bring some home to momma. There is no cover charge all night, and you can actually hit up the bar for a “Pozole Pass” by clicking here.
Calexico & Mariachi Luz De Luna @ Echoplex
Also on Cinco De Mayo, Calexico will be performing at The Echoplex in Echo Park along with Mariachi Luz De Luna. Calexico’s forays into music have collected steam and depth over the years as they experiment in different genres. Their ominous Spaghetti Western-like sound track full of nylon string guitars meandering around the minor key intonations give a feeling of dread at times. At other times, for example, say a Cinco De Mayo show, they blast out songs to dance and celebrate things like the unexpected Mexican victory 149 years ago against the French.
The rhythms are unmistakably Latin, and the idea of mixing a full mariachi band behind them sounds like a party. Mariachi Luz De Luna has joined them on the stage before, and, as you can imagine, the mariachi sound overpowers the quieter acoustic guitar duo. If you can imagine a mariachi band at full volume, blasting horns and rhythm, abruptly muting that blast of sound down to a single pair of acoustic guitars, barely audible above the crowd, and building back up to that blast, you will have an idea of the dynamics in this incredible show.
Calexico’s recognition of that dynamic is what gives the music it’s texture. Range of style and tempo keep the mind interested and the feet dancing. Tickets are available via Ticketweb. The show begins at 8 p.m. Cover is $20 and the venue is 18 and over.
The Insect Surfers, Thee Swank Bastards & Ghosts of Searchlight @ Mr. T’s Bowl
Friday May 6, Mr. T’s Bowl in Highland Park will host a night of Surf rock with The Insect Surfers, Thee Swank Bastards (From Las Vegas) and Ghosts of Searchlight. Also performing are The MuerTones, with your humble author on the bass guitar.
The Insect Surfers are regulars in the SoCal surf scene, but Thee Swank Bastards are a group you don’t get to see all that much outside of the Las Vegas area. They’re an extremely talented group who are known for wearing suits, performing with a hula-hoop spinning go-go dancer and doing whole album versions of your favorite music in a surf style. I’ve heard them play a Black Sabbath set completely surfed out. As much as you may think you’d have to soften it up to make it happen, The Swank Bastards kept the songs true to their original themes and feel. In other words, the Sabbath songs retained their creepy, bite-the-head off of a bat feel. These guys are one of my favorite surf groups around because they prove that you don’t need to bubble gum-up your sound to play to a crowd. It might not be widely accepted to add that much grit to a surf song, but then again this isn’t pop music, and Thee Swank Bastards have definitely found that nice middle ground. The venue is 21 and over only, and usually around $10.
Zola @ The Satellite
On Saturday May 7, Zola Jesus will be performing at The Satellite. The sound of their music is big and spacious, using layers of vocals, keys and effects to produce ghostly screams placed carefully on top of noisy room sounds and stacks of reverb. At times it sounds like the band recorded in a church, with all the space you feel on the record. Very artistically made recordings.
The sound almost reminds me of Concrete Blonde or Siouxsie and The Banshees, updated for modern ears and amped up a couple of levels. Music people constantly argue about the usage of digital vs. analog recording media, and, listening to Zola Jesus you can only wonder where older performers would have taken their music if they had an unlimited number of tracks and effects to play with. Zola Jesus explores that depth and dives in headfirst. Also performing at the Silver Lake club are Naked on The Vague, and Hive Mind. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. $12 advance, $14 at the door. 21 and over only.
There’s a lot of music out there. Eastside Mix will help guide you to noteworthy shows and keep you up to date on Eastside venues, bands, artists and labels. Did we miss something? Send an email to [email protected].