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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Photek at SD Union



Well, SD Union has barely given us 2 weeks to recover before another installment is coming up this Saturday, `10/12 at The Merrow in San Diego.  I guess you have to take FREAKING ADAM F when you can get him!  This has got to be his first appearance in SoCal in a hot minute, at least at a small venue.  That being said, I'd better get this review of the more than comparable Photek before this one rolls out.

First, let's talk about The Merrow.  The venue used to be The Ruby Room but has recently changed management/ownership, so not much has changed for the SD Union Denizens.  I do miss the graffiti on the wall outside the club, and the bar staff still needs to work out a few timing kinks, but otherwise the drinks are still a great price, the new decor is nice and they have some great local craft beer options, so for the most part it's pretty much the same, just classed up a bit.

So Photek (along with Adam F) is what I call a "second tier" producer; this is the group of DnB talent who came out with releases within a year after the first tier/inventors Hype and Goldie, with his first release out in 1992.  What this means to me is that these guys are OG to the thousandth power, and have done more than most of us can comprehend to shape the scene that we've all come to know, and you can also go ahead and frigging give them credit for Dubstep while you're at it.  Something I didn't know is that he's also been nominated for 2 Grammys.  So, while I never doubt SD Union's ability to pull big names (especially since J Majik 18 months ago), I was still surprised, if for nothing else than he hasn't been in SoCal since about 2006.  We're taking it next level this year!

As is my horrible jaded scenester custom, I didn't get to The Merrow until around midnight, missing Will Guise, Evlo, and resident Ghost MD.  I'm sure they laid it down, however, and one of these days I will have to stop being a dickhead and come early.  I did catch the end of Adia Break's set, and that definitely got the crowd going and ready for Photek.  MCs CSD, Subliminal, and resident/founder/birthday boy along with Eric YoRidda, were also on hand to amp the crowd and host.

Photek holds a special place in my heart not only for shaping DnB as a whole but being instrumental in creating darkstep and techstep, which readers have seen me laud in other posts and with which I identify more than any other sub-genre.  In this area, he did not disappoint.  Photek's set consisted of many of his own classics, current sick tracks which also had lots of dark flavor, and dubplates that I bet we couldn't even date because none of us will get our grubby little hands on them.  Not just tracks, Photek's set had a nice overall dark n' grimy feel, and with me still on such a high from Wreckignition, it was like methadone to help me come down.

It was also Ridda's birthday as I mentioned, and what better way to celebrate - jeez.  Apparently there was a little cake mishap, but who needs a frigging cake when you've got Photek on your birthday?  Pssh, not me!  Beyond that there was a great chill vibe and everyone seemed to have tons of fun.  Great party as always.

So now we have Adam F (Breakbeat Kaos), jump-up OG, coming in on Saturday and I'm barely over September's parties.  The event will be at The Merrow once again, and cover is $10.  For more information, go to the SD Union: Adam F event page or SD Union's Facebook page.  Be there or be frigging stupid!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wreckignition is Back! For me, it's Like they Never Left

Ahh Wreckignition, how do I love thee?  As I've said an annoying number of times on Facebook, as a devout Junglist in the 90s who tended towards the dark beats, Wreckignition was my church.  I would liken it, however, to more of a Thesomophoria; an ancient and secret hedonistic Pagan festival dedicated to celebrating the darker, more dangerous elements of life.  Bass music is definitely in this category; respect and use it properly, and it will be there for you in a way nothing else can.  Exploit or disrespect, well, anyone who went to underground parties back in the day knows exactly what could happen.  Truly Tantric, baby.

Now that I've waxed spiritual for a moment, let's sum it up in laymen's terms: Wreckignition was probably the most badass monthly underground event stateside that you can think of in the late 90s-early 00s.  It started in 1997, and I believe it was the first all-dnb party I went to on the West Coast.  It sadly ended in 2003 but I think many of us stopped going in 2001-02, or at least I did.  Adulthood, careers, desire not to go to jail, etc. took over for a while, but I remember when it was announced that it was ending, and I definitely got choked up.  I remember thinking something along the lines of "this is the watchword of the decline of dark drum and bass in the US," as we knew it, anyway.  Wreckignition straddled a period in SoCal and in jungle and dnb in general that saw the darkest, ground-out beats and sounds in its history.  This was a period from whose grumpy, glowering womb sprung the Usual Suspects "Killa Bees," Krust's "Warhead."  All the classics: "Scorpion," "Cops Don't Like Us," I could go on.  All the staples that every self-respecting basshead should know came out of there, as well as some of the best dark and ragga pieces out of RAW, CRS?, and APX-1's crew.  It was quite polarizing back then, actually; you really had a much clearer divide between jungle and drum and bass in the first case, and then very clear divisions between jump-up, darkstep, hardstep, ragga, liquid, etc. in the second.  I honestly don't even recognize DJs like SS and Loxy from where they were in this period.  I remember a lot of us fought against merging genres, to the point of heated arguments and actual physical fights.  Now, looking back, it really was a natural progression/evolution of the genre, and I feel we're all united and just dedicated to making good music.  I do miss those days though, or at least the music and the parties, and Wreckignition was a place for all of us darkstepper/ragga heads to go where we knew we would hear exactly what we liked.

But again, adulthood happened, and while I still listen to classic dark dnb more than any of the new stuff, I've quite content to go to smaller events at bars and clubs: Respect, SD Union, The Rhythm Lounge, etc. gave us legit places to hold our 21+ all-dnb events, and while I was happy to be free of any drama associated with the old parties, something was lost in translation.  It got so lost, in fact, that I didn't even realize how much I missed it.  So, it might be understating to say I was excited when I saw in about May of this year that Wreckignition would be coming back.  I instantly recognized what I was missing: excellent SoCal djs spinning classic darkstep and ragga somewhere under a freeway in downtown LA.  That was the other great feature of Wreckignition: it was almost always exclusively local talent.  Wreck crew Don and founder Deacon, E-Sassin, Machete, RAW, CRS?, APX-1, Devas, Hazen, Havok Mega.  We have some crazy good talent here in Southern California, and it seems lately that you can't pull the kind of heads you used to with that kind of lineup.  I know we're all old and tired and pregnant or whatever, but if the only names that get you out of your jammies lately have to come from England or Europe, examine your conscience; there's plenty to piss yourself over right here.

The first installment of the recently resuscitated Wreckignition was on August 31, and as I remember most of them in the past, it was located under a freeway overpass in downtown LA, but it was also totally legit and secure.  The neighborhood wasn't too bad either, so it was nice to see they classed it up a little.  That seemed to be the overall feel of the night as well: still capturing the old feeling and the old culture, but also making sure things were updated and not too over-the-top or too ghetto, adapting to current times and our more adult sensibilities.  For example, there were still art pieces by jungle art legend Spectr, but an absence of any of the old military accessories we used to use to mark DnB parties (Wreck used to be champion at that).  There were two areas of sound and the lineup included everyone I mentioned above as well as Heretic, Sixfootunda, Direct Feed, Circut, Prime Mover, Clutch, Caelum, and Impostor as well as Kemst, Werd, and a number of other MCs.  I unfortunately got there quite late so I missed many of my favourites, but the sets I did see; Machete, Deacon, CRS?, APX-1, and RAW were all bangers.  Some did fully darkstep sets, while others spliced in ragga and even some full-on reggae.    It was also 21+ (thank God) with a bar and Wreckignition t-shirts for sale, and Drumz clothing rolled out as well with a new line and the revival of the gasmask tshirt (!)  There was even a massage station (which I meant to avail myself of) and a food car magically showed up at around 1:30.  Perfect. The whole night had a classic feel with a thoroughly modern bent.  It was so nice to re-connect with this shared reality all of us oldschool SoCal heads have, and also bring newcomers into the fold and see them experience a part of being a junglist  that they may not ahve heretofore experienced.

Sorry you missed it yet?  You should be.  Luckily there will be another installation soon, on October 19.  Lineup TBA.  I highly recommend getting signed up for their email list at www.wreckignition.info.  That's the way to get the most up-to-date information including chances for guest list, early venue info, etc.  More info also on the Wreck Ignition facebook page, and get ready to have your brains blown out with bass.  I'm so happy it's back (as if you couldn't tell)!





 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekend Art Wrap-Up: What You Missed, and What You Can Still See



This weekend saw the openings of 3 off-the-radar art shows, sponsored by Subtext Gallery, Thumbprint/Lombardo, and Suicidal Octopus, respectively.  Featuring cool, digitally manipulated photos, eclectic mixed media, and street art on miniature garbage bins (!), each show had something new to offer the San Diego art community and should not be missed.

Though I generally avoid Kettn
er Nights like the plague, when Subtext announced a special photography show on Friday, 9/13 called ANIUM, featuring the unique digitally manipulated photographs and short films of Charles Bergquist, I had to go.  I missed his last public showing, and now that I'm working on my own portfolio, I'm always up for new ideas.  Bergquist is known for his unique digital overlays and psychedelic colour choices, as well as his bright, robust photography direction in music videos, short films, and his own art film pieces.  The focus of his art photography is definitely on the art, and I wish I could have spoken to him more about how he does some of his photo tricks.  The show itself was sparsely hung, none of the still shots framed and they were attached to the walls with magnets, making them look as if they were hanging to dry in a darkroom.  There were also several film pieces for sale in individual TV boxes which ran on loops of 5-10 second short films, including one stand alone box that was about 8' high.  The films were beautiful and had varying speeds to showcase each subject in a unique way.  The show at Subtext runs until October 13 with with gallery hours on Saturdays from 12-3 and viewing appointments available if you email info@subtextgallery.com.  Thanks to Dylan (suddenly beardless!) and John for bringing this unique show to us.




Also on Friday 9/13 was "Lucky 13," an event run by local legend-cum-desert flower, Guy Lombardo and hosted by 57 Degrees.  57 Degrees is a new wine and craft beer bar and retailer in Middletown, where the Pier 1 Outlet used to be.  It's a really cool spot, and I think it's a great idea to have shows there.  I didn't even know the place existed until I heard of this show, so the art is doing its job promoting the venue.  57 Degrees has a great selections of rare wines and what looks like some good food.  The art show was a mixes bag that night; everything from Picasso-esque modernism to haunting Native American to abstract pieces to Guy's own more Pop Art selections on found objects (my favourites, unsurprisingly).  The event also featured live music from
Mantis, a band put together in part by Thumbprint Gallery's Johnny Tran. Mantis is sort of an experimental EDM hybrid, very cool.  A video of part of the performance is featured below.  I believe the show is still up at 57 Degrees, but I'm not sure how long it will be on so stop by soon, get drunk, buy some wine, and check out all the varied art.  For more info, go to the 57 Degrees website or contact Guy Lombardo on his blog.





Lastly on Saturday, 9/14 we had "Deconstruction of Art" at Thumbprint Gallery, guest curated by Suicidal Octopuss.  Don't know who Suicidal Octopuss is?  Well, you should.  For shame.  Suicidal Octopuss is an
independent urban art collective started by two prolific street artists, snak3oil and pid.  Their ranks have since grown to include the illustrious likes of Bobby Draws Skullz, Lord of Stink, We Are Zombies, and Grumpus.  All these and more have works in the Thumbprint show.  I'm not exactly sure what the name of the show means; perhaps it's a nod to the fact that many of the pieces are done on mini-trash bins, spray paint cant, and broken skate decks.  I guess you can't get any more deconstructed than that, but despite the media used, the pieces are all bright and well-composed.  Constructed well for being so deconstructed.  Either way its a great street art collection, and best of all it's portable!  The show will run at Thumbprint Gallery  until October 6.  Gallery hours are Weds., Thurs., Saturday, and Sunday from 12-4 or by appointment.  Thumbprint Gallery is
owned and run by Johnny Tran of Mantis - this guy is everywhere!  For more information about the show, go to www.thumbprintgallerysd.com or to the Suicidal Octopuss Blog or Facebook page.

So, this is my last plea: get out and see some shows, and maybe buy yourself a mini trashcan with a rat spray painted on it or a piece of particle board with a crazy Pac Man ghost figure.  The San Diego street art scene, though alive and well, isn't going to support itself!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: New Label Shoot Recordings to Release first Tracks on Limited Edition Transparent Vinyl September 16


If you've been following the trajectory of Calculon n' friends via Rubik Records and their other independent releases and mixes over the last year or two, you may have noticed a trend away from your standard Drum and Bass. Initially, releases and mixes from Calculon, Sinistarr, Austin Speed, and Chrissy Murderbot looked like they were moving with the trend towards Dubstep, Juke, and Trap beats, but after listening to a number of these pieces, I think that may be oversimplifying a little, and cramming these artists towards a box into which they don't quite fit. The new tracks and mixes coming from the stateside faction of Rubik seem to be more experimental than just your standard Trap or Juke, but I don't really like that term, either, as it can be even more limiting than the more specific genres I just mentioned.

 That very quandary seems to be the impetus for Calculon's creating this new label, Shoot Recordings. "The sound is way different. We released a Juke Jungle EP on Rubik recently, but it's better to do a new label," said Calculon today when I was bugging him about all things Shoot. Rubik is still alive and kicking, in case you're wondering, and I agree with Calculon's reasoning here. Rubik is already such a brand, especially in England, and while Calculon has certainly taken it in some new directions, this new indefinable format is probably suited to a separate label.

 Now on to the actual tracks. The first release from Shoot Recordings will feature two tracks on a cool transparent record, and are available today exclusively on Triple Vision Records' website, and it will be available from all other major retailers on September 30.

 The A side of this record is a tune by Chrissy Murderbot called "The Original," and it certainly is. With a pseudo-trap beat laying down the bassline, the track samples some chopped-up Old School DnB snares as well as some classic 808 tick-beats and Dancehall vocals. If that wasn't enough, there's a Darksteppish (I am spell-check's worst nightmare right now,) descending chord progression throughout the track, which, oddly enough, ties it all together.
 The B side is by Pawn, normally known for his work with Smog Recordings in LA, called "Your Words." This track also has a core beat that sounds pretty Trappy to me, but the slower tempo could push it into Dubstep territory. The opening of the track is highly syncopated, but it smooths out after about a minute, and by the middle there is literally nothing but the base beat and more 80s-inspired ticks. It ends abruptly, leaving the listener wanting something more, but the only option is to re-play the track? Did someone say rewind?

 Confused yet? You should be. These new sounds are designed to push the boundaries of all those different specific genres and pigeon-holes that have been created out of the emergence of Dubstep, Trap, etc. in the past few years. But a label for this stuff? They don't have one yet. "I don't know what to call this music," said Calculon. Good, so that makes two of us. It also makes Shoot Recordings the only label you can give these tracks, and that's exactly what this crew have done.

 For more info on this new sound, check this interview Calculon just did with Kraar UK, which includes an exclusive mix by Chrono.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Review: Thumbprint Gallery Presents Anarchy in Artistry at Basic



I'm not sure how they do it, but Thumbprint Gallery manages to consistently come up with new and interesting themes for its group shows to showcase local talent at Bar Basic in the East Village.  Just this week there was another show (which I unfortunately missed) called "Lions, Tigers, and Bears oh $h!t!", and there have been a number of others in the 6 weeks or so since "Anarchy in Artistry."  In addition to
Iggy looking beautiful in a stunning photo.
Thumbprint's solo shows at its permanent location in La Jolla, these 1-off event mini-shows at Basic help keel Thumbprint present in the San Diego art scene while promoting hometown talent and interesting ideas.

Though it's been a while, I just had to review the "Anarchy in Artistry" show, because this is a subject near and dear to my heart: punks and the people who love them.  The images in this show ranged from classic anarchic symbols to photographs of my long-lost love, Iggy Pop, to more artsy interpretations of punks, such
Mr. Potatohead as angry punk.
as a "Mr. Popunkohead", as I'm calling him.  Some pieces were a bit pedestrian or, in my grumpy punker's mind, sort of missed the mark, but overall a good collection, and you can't argue with the theme.  My only real disappointment was in not seeing any sculptures of creepy dolls dressed in trash bags with safety pins holding them together, but you can't have everything.  Maybe I'll make one of those myself for the next show!

Thummprint Gallery's next show at Basic will be a group show held from September 14-October 6 called "Deconstruction of Art" and will be guest curated by Suicidal Octopuss, another heavy hitter on the SD Pop Art Scene.  The show will feature snak3oil, Lord of Stink, Grumpus, We Are Zombies, Bobbydrawsskullz, and quite a few more insanely talented artists.  There will be an opening reception on 9/14 at Thumbprint's La Jolla location.  Go to www.thumbprintgallerysd.com  for more info and all upcoming shows, or check out the Deconstruction of Art facebook event page.  Should be a good one!
Sid Vicious looking a little more like Gary Oldman than he probably should.



Monday, September 9, 2013

The Beatkillerz "Sheep Killerzzz" EP out September 12 on itunes - Not Smart to Miss this One

Beatkillerz TM Logo used with permission.
Weed rap? Eh, not exactly. SoCal underground Hiphop? I guess technically that's what were dealing with, but The Beatkillerz new EP, "Sheep Killerzzz" contains so many complexities and transcends so many genres that labeling on this new EP seems academic. What is certain is that this bass-driven, lyrically complex assembly of tracks may be the best underground release of the summer, so you're welcome for this piece. As you can tell, I'm having a hard time categorizing the ubiquitous Beatkillerz sound, but don't get me wrong; that's a good thing. With so many strong influences in the DnB, HipHop, Funk, and yes, even Punk scenes, this trio still manage to come up with a unique and uncharacterizable style which doesn't sound frenetic or confused but rather completely different and just plain good.

 Founded in 2007 by main MC Catfish and Havok Mega, who mastered this EP, The Beatkillerz then brought in Ethyx soon after to lend his MC and production style, and have been writing and performing since that time.  If you've seen their energetic and chest-thumping live shows wherein all 3 emcee (Catfish prefers the term "emcee" to "rap", though it'll probably kill me to use "emcee" as a verb throughout this article), man the decks and tweak the sound, then you've been anticipating this EP drop for a while like I have.

Album art used with permission.
Catfish has named a gallery of influences to Beatkillerz sound in general: everything from Shapeshifters and Awol One to Gramatik and Pretty Lights. On this EP the beats also have lashings of mid-90s Wu-Tang and almost all of the tracks sample heavily from 60s soul, funk, do-wop, and even a scratchy-sounding 1920s calliope.  The beats, however, as would be expected of 3 kids who grew up in the DnB and Grime scenes, are anchored in heavy bass and this EP should only be listened to on a set of good headphones or properly woofered-out speakers. All these elements make for an interesting musical track to be sure. Another refreshing thing on the EP is that of the 10 tracks, only 5 actually have lyrics.  The rest are full instrumental and showcase Ethyx's unique style as he did most of the beats and instrumentals. For me and many others who have always gravitated to the clean production values and a solid core bass and drum structure of a song before any lyrics, spoken or otherwise, have been added, we have been oft disappointed by some underground groups' inability to pull off a good backing track.  It's a welcome feature of "Sheep Killerzzz" that the group showcases just how important it is to have a track stand on its own without help or need of lyrics, and indeed tracks like "Sinatra" and "MPCxyz" do just that.

This is not to say, however, that the lyrical stylings of Catfish and Ethyx are just tacked on for good measure, or are somehow boring and not important to the album - far from it.  The MC skills of these two are featured heavily either as a tag-teaming duo or separate, and Catfish and Ethyx's styles, like the beats, are a many-splendoured thing.  Catfish's vocal timbre is young, fun, and a little nerdy sounding - kind of like a white Humpty but with tighter enunciation which allows him to spit really quick circles around the beats, creating another layer to the track (though I'm not sure if he likes his oatmeal lumpy).  Content-wise, his writing ranges in topic from fun, silly jabs at the ridiculousness of social conventions in "Table Manners", to the more serious, psychedelic, and intellectual musings of "Dementia" (easily my favourite track on the EP), to the joys and perils of growing up SoCal in "Cali Sun", where Catfish identifies himself as "a modern-day Spicoli": probably a better description of his lyrical style and attitude than I've attempted to present in this whole article.   Ethyx's lyrical style sounds a little more conventional, but whether he's backing up Catfish or they're tag-teaming, his vocal  weight and speed can easily stand up to whatever Catfish is putting down.  It makes for a great duo, and they complement each other stylistically quite well.

Overall, the EP really has a great flow to it, moving seamlessly from song to song and telling a story on the way and hearkens back to the days when an EP or LP would be seen as a whole body of work, not just the random fragmented songs which comprise it.  Remember those days when you would go to the store and purchase a record or CD and listen to the whole thing all the way through, expecting the artist to take you on a journey through his or her world and what he or she was going through at the time?  Remember when you couldn't mention "Mother" without talking about "The Wall" in all its greatness, or talk about "Let Me Ride" without thinking of the whole new genre Dre's "The Chronic" ushered in?  Remember when every track was a banger, and you weren't constantly flipping through you ipod or Pandora to get to a track you really liked?  Ok I know I'm waxing jaded old lady nostalgic now, but that's what this EP does, and it's really a nod to Havok Mega's mastering skills but also to the way I know all 3 of these guys wanted the record to sound and make the listener feel.  Each track can stand on its own, but the body of work that is "Sheep Killerzzz" deserves to be listened to as it's own playlist on your ipod.

As mentioned, "Sheepkillerzzz" will be out on itunes on September 12 and is available for pre-order now.  The EP is also available for sale on The Beatkillerz website, and I recommend that method because all profits go straight to the group where, as you know, on itunes there is a significant cut taken.  They've made it convenient on the website to pay by Paypal or by credit card in the Beatkillerz shop.  While you're there you can listen to clips from the EP and buy yourself a cooler-than-everything Beatkillerz tshirt (both women's and men's styles and sizes available), and if you want to book the guys (who wouldn't), booking contact info is on the site as well.  I've also got some links below to their Soundcloud page, Savageland, because I feel I've done a rubbish job of fully explaining this album but hopefully I've piqued your interest enough to want to listen for yourself and say "that bitch doesn't know what she's talking about.  This is way better than she described," because it is.







**All website images and track links used with permission from artist.**

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Please Check Out My New Photography Page



One of the more positive contributors to my not posting for so long, my new page features my real photos, not these wacky slapped-together pics I post on the site.  Check out the page, LKL Studio Art Photography.  Please also "like" the fb page and follow me on Twitter at @studioLKL  I hope they're a little more artistic in your minds, and no I don't do weddings.

Pics from the Unadvertised Fixdie Race and Art Show Last Night at Us vs. Them

This is a little informal, especially considering the bafflingly long hiatus I've taken from posting, and I also apologize for the article-jumping I'm doing here.  I'm still recovering, and I consider this a baby step.  Self-deprication notwithstanding, I wanted to at least post these pictures from the cool show last night, featuring art painted directly onto fixed-gear bike frames at Us vs. Them last night in their show, "Aerosol & Aluminum".  The likes of  Exist 1981, Insa, and Honkey Kong created pieces for the show, and  here was also a race, which meant the place was rife with hipsters, both art and bike.  There were also some great flat toonish pieces in the tattoo shop.  Enjoy the album, and I promise that some real reviews and articles will be coming soon.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Burny Worm Guy? Anyone?

The pics I've posted here are a little old, but I've seen them popping up again.  The cool thing here is that the black stickers for this artist are actually singed, and then the worm itself is scratched onto the surface.  I've seen this technique a few times, but this is with a worm!  10x better, right?  If you know who this artist is, please comment below and you could win! 



Rewiew: Monstro and the Kelp Kids at Thumbprint Gallery



As Thumbprint Gallery's current solo exhibition from Kreemworks, "Werkaholic," closing today, I'm just catching up to talk about the previous long-term exhibit, "Monstro and the Kelp Kids."  I urge you to use the rest of your Sunday afternoon to check out "Werkaholic" at the La Jolla location, as it's really a great show as well.  Info is on the event page, or at www.thumbprintgallerysd.com

I was excited to see "Monstro and the Kelp Kids" because I've been a big fan of Monstrinho for a while now.  Just a word of advice if you're not used to the private gallery scene: if you're going to see a show outside of the opening or closing parties, gallery hours are usually subject to change.  Thumbprint's regular hours are Weds/Thurs/Sat/Sun from 12-4pm, but if there's not a lot of traffic, they may close early.  Thumbprint is basically run by one guy also, so I just think things probably come up.  The first time I tried to go, we got there at around 3pm on a Thursday, and it was a no-go.  No judgement on this, but plan your trips accordingly for any smaller gallery.  Below are a few pics of me trying to shoot through the windows, and my friend left a kiss mark for the owner.  Timing digression aside, I was able to go take a look and take real pictures the following Thursday at the closing party. 



For those of you not familiar, Monstrinho is a New York artist who is and should be known for his bright and colourful open-air and street murals.  Reminiscent of children's books but with an adult flair, his works and shows often contain their own grouping of characters and stories.  The Kelp Kids are no exception.  In Monstrinho's own words, "The 'Kelp Kids' are a family of a diverse group of kids, that embrace each others differences and have a profound love for the sea and adventure. They possess characteristics and qualities that can be found within ourselves and others we have met and will meet on our separate life journeys, making it relative to both adults and children."  Sounds great to me!

The colours and materials used are also childlike and whimsical in this series - most of the technique looks like watercolour, but upon closer inspection, it looks like special acrylics and inks that created this effect.  Monstrinho says of his technique in this series, "This approach has been extremely liberating in that it has given me the opportunity to truly find beauty in imperfection. The pieces are loose, multi layered and have hidden messages and icons within."  Both the technique and the message seem multi-layered and complex, however the pieces can be appreciated on simply an aesthetic level, and I think it would be likely that kids would like this show and hopefully be inspired by the bright colours and fun characters.
My favourite piece at this show - rappin' kelp kid!
 


"The Kelp Kids" apparently premiered in Miami, and we definitely have Thumbprint to thank for bringing this exhibit to San Diego.  You can learn more about Monstrinho, check out some of his murals, and if you are interested in purchasing any of the pieces you see here, go to www.monstrinho.com.  Prices are reasonable and vary based on the piece.  I've got my eye on a couple myself.  Enjoy the pics! 

After the Kreemworks show closes today, the next event from Thumbprint will be a one-night group show called "Anarchy in Artistry" at Bar Basic in Downtown San Diego on Tuesday, 7/23 .  It looks like a punk rock theme and will surely be great.  Check out www.thumbprintgallerysd.com or the Facebook event page for info.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Review - Hybris at SD Union: American Jungle Filming Party


There were forces at work during this landmark show that I, as a mere attendee to the American Jungle taping at SD Union with Hybris headlining, was unaware.  I have, in spite of myself, been following American Jungle's progress around the country as they film at different parties and interview the various local heroes who gave birth to, or have worked hard to maintain the stateside Jungle and Drum and Bass culture, and based on what I've seen it looks like it will be a pretty good representation.  In San Diego alone, I was impressed with the range of DJs and MCs they spoke to; oldschool heroes like Havok Mega and Uncut, Brand New Heavies from the Organized Grime Crew like MC CSD, Proof, and Gum-B (who's actually been around for a long time but OG is the new project), and trenchmasters like MC Ridda and Eric Yo!, who have been slaving away trying to keep the DnB cruise ship from going Titanic lo these 7 or 8 years while the others have been busy regrouping or being in high school.  It was a great mix, and if these guys have been nearly as thorough in other cities, and all this great material also makes it into the finished documentary, we're in for a great ride.

When I say I wasn't aware of all the players, it's because I still have no idea who the dudes are who are touring and doing this work, but that's ok.  They're clearly insiders to know as much as they do about whom they should hit up for filming, and if they're also promoting themselves and trying to make connections at the same time, I for one will applaud their efforts.  That is, as long as they stay true to the scene and I don't see this shit on MTV after Teen Mom.  Deal?  Deal.

Since I'm hardly fully informed about the project, however, I've found it difficult to finally get this review down on virtual paper.  The best I can do is give readers my own experience of the event, and hopefully that will suffice.  At the very least more connections will be made.

When I first got to the Ruby Room at around 11:30, I was surprised to see that it wasn't completely packed.  Between Hybris (Metalheadz) and the taping, I expected people to be lined up around the block.  A little shy, are we San Diego?  People did start to filter in a little later though, and once Hybris was onstage, it was properly packed.  Other featured DJs that night were Organized Grime's SubKillaz, of whom I am becoming more and more of a fan, and DJ Evlo.  Us vs. Them's Volz rounded out the lineup, and the event was hosted by Ridda and CSD.

As a crotchety old Junglist, I really appreciated American Jungle's muted presence at the event.  Ridda did merch giveaways onstage throughout the night, and I saw some people being interviewed, but I was happy to see that they made sure not to stick any cameras in anyone's face, and they stuck to the sidelines and didn't disrupt the flow of the party.  They were definitely there, but didn't make a big deal about it and it seemed like they were trying not to make the party all about them.  Yet another indication that these guys really get it.

What this party was all about, as it should have been, was Hybris.  I don't believe I'd seen Hybris live before, but I've definitely been digging his tracks for a few years now.  They're reminiscent of that great time in DnB around 1999 when jump-up and darkstep were first merging - his tracks are dark and grimy but higly danceable and the whole party was definitely on its feet dancing for the entire set.    I believe I caught a few minutes of my two favourite tracks by him as well, "Not Human" and "Please Exist" (off the Prague Connection EP) but don't quote me, as I may have had a few adult beverages and dreamed it.  If you're not familiar with Hybris, click these links or here is a video of him live another party:



As usual the SD Union vibe was fun and not too heavy, and I credit Ridda and the Technical Support crew for really keeping things together after the SD scene split up into crews and rivalries back in 2005.  It was good to see everyone out in full force, and to see that the San Diego scene will be well-represented in American Jungle.  I missed one installment of this monthly in June, but the next one is coming up next Saturday, July 13 and will feature Ben Soundscape from the Insiders.  SD Union is tagging this as "Pride After Dark" as it falls on the weekend of pride and will be in Hillcrest at The Merrow, which is the new name for the Ruby Room after the shift in ownership.  Check the SD Union July event page for info and updates.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Power Animals III: Spirit Guides Presented by Thumbprint Gallery at The Spot Barrio Logan


I love how suddenly everyone is waxing surprised about the "explosion of new art talent" in Barrio Logan, as if it hasn't been happening for literally decades.  It never went away, you hipsters.  Just because a few bloggers finally pulled their heads out of their asses to comment on it doesn't mean that the art scene in Barrio Logan and Golden Hill is just becoming as vibrant, funny, and smart as people suddenly think it is.  Those of us who have lived there, grew up there or just new it was the place to go for cool quirky shit have known this for a long time.  The only thing it was ever missing was money and white people who cared.  This is an area that has been hiding amazing talent in plain sight for years.  The city just kept whitewashing over it.

Hopping off my soapbox now, The Spot on Main Street in Barrio Logan is a relatively new artist's collective that rents spaces to artists at reasonable prices, does shows and events of all kinds, and apparently does some street vending on the side.  They've given new meaning to the term "multi-purpose," as there was even a Hip Hop video being shot in the loft upstairs when we went to the opening show for Power Animals.  Despite its newness, The Spot is completely run by locals, and while it's well-lit for art shows and devoid of graffiti (that we could see), the space definitely has that great Barrio Logan/Chicano Park, art-but-no-art vibe that those of us who know and love the area can immediately recognize.  It's great to see these crews and groups starting to be able to go legit and have spaces and shows of their own, and I love that Thumbprint Gallery chose this space to showcase Power Animals III.

Since I didn't see Power Animals I or II, I'm sort of firing blind here, but no matter.  Thumbprint has a great way of not explaining itself too much before a show and letting the art speak for itself.  I think this is a great tactic, because it allows both the artists and the viewers interpret the themes on their own terms.  The theme of "Spirit Animals" was widely interpreted this time, with everything from a Sloth running a vacuum in a pink dress a'la Freddy Mercury in "I Want to Break Free" to abstracted, ghostly street-inspired panels.

The show only ran from May 18-25, and I once again found myself in a situation where I was so stoked on all the art that I didn't write down many names.  About 30 artists participated in this special short show, and I'm really just going to let the photo gallery above speak for itself.  Truly an amazing show.  If you know any of the artists, please feel free to leave the names int he comments and I'll tag them, and if you're interested in any of the pieces again just comment and I'll do my best to find out.   You can also get more info about upcoming events at The Spot or artist rentals by going to www.thespotbarriologan.com.
 
Thumbprint Gallery is currently showing Werkaholic: Works by Kreemworks at their La Jolla Studio through July 8.  They also have two upcoming short shows opening on July 2 and July 23 respectively at Bar Basic downtown.  For more info or upcoming events go to www.thumbprintgallerysd.com.  Hopefully my crappy pictures from this show will inspire you to come and check them out.  Thumbprint are truly tapping some great unseen talent in San Diego and beyond, and we should all be thankful to have collectives like them and The Spot in this town.  They are our true culture.  Hey, where'd that soapbox come from again  Enjoy!

**All photos in this post by LKL Studio**







Thursday, June 27, 2013

What the Hell is Going on Here?? I Must Know Who Did these Stickers!




I'm calling these stickers the Tittongues.  I think they pretty much speak for themselves - these things have been going up all over the place lately, and I think they're hilarious!  But no signature, nothing - BUT professional-style stickers!  I keep trying to grab one for my fridge collection, but as you can imagine they come down almost quicker than they go up.  The bottom ones were actually on the electrical box outside of my building, so missing those really chapped my ass.  Who takes them?  I'm hoping it's a combination of rabid but confused fans like myself, and people who are horrified/titillated by them (also like myself).  We must find this artist!  If people respond, I'll re-implement the prize policy, so take a look.  It's not like you can un-see them now anyway.  Oof.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Review: Junglist Fridays with RAW at Kava Lounge SD


Now that we're in sight of Bulletproof and Dub Chamber's monthly collaboration event's second month, I think it only appropriate to give those of you who weren't at the first event.  Junglist Fridays was kicked off with a bang on May 17, featuring Socal's, and, let's face it, international legend, RAW (we can't keep him to ourselves forever), and our OG prodigal son did not disappoint. 

I hadn't been to the Kava Lounge in a while, but were it not for RAW (Woofer Cooker Records, Dub Chamber), I'm sure the fun, pesudo-hippie vibe I've come to know and love would have still been there.  RAW, however, is still capable of turning pretty much any room into La Casa ca. 1998 and I'm still not sure if it's the beats or the man.  Probably a combination of the two if I'm honest. 

The supporting DJs, Sixfootunda (Tonz of Drumz, Dub Chamber), Rebellion (Special Technique, Dub Chamber), NKey (DnBtv.com), and Dregen (Dub Chamber) certainly set the mood that night, and I found myself dancing pretty much as soon as we walked in.  A great surprise also was that MC Tez is back in the mix, and helped host with Oozi and Reflex. 

Then it was time to be transported back to a magical time in DnB history, a time when beats and peeps were hard, rough, and full of soul.  RAW's set was ragga-heavy but not so much that it made me feel like I was growing dreds.  There was a very impressive selection of old hits with some modern tracks thrown in for flavor, just how I like my jungle (being the crotchety oldschooler that I am).

RAW at Kava Lounge 5/17/13 Photo by LKL Studio
The vibe was definitely sick; chill but still hard and from what I can tell everyone had a great time.  That's one thing I can say about the Kava Lounge: I've literally never seen any drama go down there.  If they just had some diet cola for my vodka, I'd never leave!

The next installment of Junglist Fridays will be this Friday, May 28 and features RAW's long-time partner-in-bass, CRS? (Tonz of Drumz, Dub Chamber).   We can also look forward to Quest with MC Reflex (Bulletproof, Dub Chamber) whom I haven't seen in a while, the always impressive Peacemaker (Special Technique, Drumz SD), and Joeyanimals (Future SD).  Hosted as always by our benevolent residents Tez and Oozi, Junglist Fridays will once aain take place at the Kava Lounge on Kettner and is 21+ with only a $5 cover.  I expect this monthly to be a great success going forward and they have even more heave hitters coming up in future.  More info can be found on the Junglist Fridays event FB page.  See you suckers there!



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Interview with Kristine Schomaker: Second Life, Psychedelic Drip-Paintings, and Challenging Body Image; a Merging of Media and Self-Perception


 
Kristine Schomaker is the board-elected media boss of the LA Brewery Artwalk, a large collective of artists housed in (obviously) an old brewery in LA.  I've been moderately obsessed with the LA Brewery since I was about 18 when I started raving in Los Angeles and would often drive by the huge creepy structure, thinking it would be a great place to break into for the purposes of rave or just architectural nerdism (you can see my many tirades on the subject in my preview and review of the LA Brewery Artwalk).  Turns out it's hardly vacant or eerie, and Kristine has been tasked with promoting the Brewery's events and social media, which is how I met her.  As soon as I found out the Brewery was inhabited, let alone by artists(!), I was all over their webpage, Facebook page, and Twitter.   This meant Kristine had to handle my barrage of gushing and pleas to speak to whomever could tell me the most about it, the lucky lady.

One of my pleas to Kristine was to allow me to come interview her about the Brewery so I could find out every little thing, but once I entered the studio she shares with a roomate in the atrium building, that interest quickly waned when the conversation turned to her own art (and besides, all of my questions were easily answered on the LA Brewery's website).

Kristine's art on first glance is a high-octane colour-fest, which clearly uses a lot of layering to create texture and dimension.  There are canvases of varying sizes all over the walls and in the loft of her studio, but on the day I was there most eyes were immediately drawn to the four life-sized mannequins in the center of the room, all covered in the same rich neon swirling patterns as what could be found on the wall  Behind the figures, there was a projected strip of film from a computer which showed more digitized figures of the same type of art, but rather than the mannequins' uniform skinny elongated figures below, these figures (which were all dancing), were of all different sizes and shapes.  It made an impressive display, and I was curious about how Kristine had arrived at this idea.  The answers went much deeper and were much more innovative than I expected.  Enough to kick my obsession with the building we were standing in out of my brain for the duration of my visit that day, and certainly enough for me to want to give Kristine a spotlight in this blog.

Close-up of Kristine's great layering technique.  Photo by LKL Studio
DWS: So what's the significance to you of these real-life models vs. the digital ones projected on the wall?

KS: Well, I've been in Second Life for over six years, and I started with my paintings; I uploaded digital copies of my paintings, and that was it - I was an artist in Second Life selling paintings.  And then when I was working on my Master's degree, I showed my Professor what I was doing with the paintings, and she saw my Avatar and started asking me, "well, who is your Avatar and why does she look the way she does?" - a very ideal version of myself.  And so I started to think about it, and I started to write tons of notes, journal, sketch - all sorts of things, and I started to see her as a self-portrait.  I had never ever done a self-portrait before, so I started researching self-portraits and what they mean; delving into identity and why my Avatar was ideal and why I created her (to look the way she did). 

DWS: What kind of things did you find in your research?

KS: Well I found research from, like, Stanford where they showed how your Avatar influences you in real life, and I thought it was so fascinating.  So I did my Masters' thesis on the relationship between me and my Avatar, it was called "My Life as an Avatar," and we had conversations, my Avatar and I, and I focused on body image, I started to really look into the media's representation of women, and how all of this influences society's perception of beauty, so that was my thesis.
Schomaker conversing with Avatar Gracie in one of the comics Schomaker created.  Image used by permission  www.kristineschomaker.net
DWS: So once you'd finished that thesis, where did you take it from there?  Now that you had all of this understanding of you vs. your Avatar?

KS: I kind of took a little break, and I started to think about other peoples' identity with their Avatars, why they chose the Avatars they did.  It made me more open about who I was in real life.  And so I decided to change my Avatar, which I hadn't done in years.  I took one of my paintings, and used it as a skin on my Avatar.  That just started something totally new.

Schomaker's Avatar, Gracie, and an art-skin Avatar
DWS: What direction did that take you?

KS: A few months after I put the painting skin on my Avatar, a friend of mine saw that Avatar and asked to buy the real-life mannequin.  So of course I said, "well there is no mannequin, this is all digital," and so then of course that led me to...

DWS: To the idea of doing the paintings on real mannequins?

KS: Yeah, I mean I'm always looking for ways of mixing realities and ways of bringing the virtual into the physical world, so this was just like "duh!"  So I went looking for mannequins, and started painting them like my Avatars.

DWS: Sorry to change the subject to technique for a moment, but I noticed that the mannequins have little drip stalactites coming off the fingers and backs.  Was that on purpose?

KS: Yes, good eye!  A lot of people don't notice that.  I noticed that the little drips were happening on the first one I did, and then on the rest of them I kind of concentrated on that, and I put more layers on because I wanted to form more of the drips.

DWS: I was hoping it was on purpose because it looks really cool.  Back to where you went next with these Avatars, though...

KS: Well because I'm focusing on body image, all the next mannequins are going to be plus-sized.  It's about being an individual and being yourself.  This whole project is called "A Comfortable Skin."  In my Masters' thesis artist statement I state that I'm not comfortable in my skin.  But now that was three years ago, and since going through this journey I really feel that I've evolved along with the project and I feel like I'm much more comfortable with who I am, inside and out.

DWS: So do you now have an Avatar that looks more like you in real life?

KS: (Laughing) No!  Well I do, but I don't use it very much.  The Avatar created from my actual self is that first one on the left (of the dancing digital models).

Still of Schomaker's dancing digital Avatars.  Used with permission www.kristineschomaker.net

DWS: Oh yeah, because you created all of these for the project.  I have to say, that one looks like it's the happiest and having the most fun.

KS: That's what a lot of people have said, it's funny.

Its clear that Schomaker's journey to self-acceptance, much like anyone's, is still evolving.  In the meantime, she's managed to use her considerable artistic talent and great techniques, and the new and sometimes confusing reality of Second Life not only to help her on this path, but to make a point about how we view ourselves and how we wish we were.  There's no shortage of controversy surrounding Second Life these days, but the positive potential is clear with participants like Kristine: the virtual world can be used as a reflection of ourselves as well as a way to further understanding about the differences between us and accepting all the possible permutations, whether virtual, real, conscious or subconscious.  Aside from that, Kristine's a kickass artist, and I can't wait to see more from this project.

Schomaker with her models, both tangible and virtual.  Photo by LKL Studio.
Kristineschomaker.net contains more pictures of Kristine, her work and her Avatars, and an in-depth look at "A Comfortable Skin," including the comics she created from the conversations she had with her Avatar.  Being the social media maven she is, Kristine's site gives a much better picture than I could hope to of this groundbreaking project, so make sure to check it out.
Kristine is currently showing at Tractionarts in Los Angeles.  The closing reception for her show, "Ce n'est pas une peinture" will take place on July 6, 2013.  For location and details, visit www.tractionarts.orgTo find out more about the LA Brewery or any of the artists in the collective, go to www.labrewery.com or the LA Brewery Facebook Page.


**Images from Kristineschomaker.net used with permission.** 




Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Drumz's I Like It Dirty: It Was Dirty, and I Did Like It

Well, the highly anticipated I Like It Dirty from Drumz and Elev8 has been in the can for almost a month now, but it's still in the annals of my favourite parties in recent memory.

Spin nightclub on Hancock Street, when fully open and the security in a good mood, is a really fun venue.  There are 3 levels of party, multiple rooms and types of rooms, a rooftop deck, and really great systems in the performance rooms.  The main room has a sunken dancefloor, and best of all, the club is part of an elite few in the county which are able to stay open until 4am.  Not too shabby, and I'm glad Drumz worked with Elev8 on this one so we could dirty it up!

The lineup for this event was insane.  The main draw was of course Gigantor from Evol Intent, as well as Dysphemic and Miss Eliza, and RAW/6BLOCC in the main room.  There was also a huge gallery of local talent, including Havok Mega, Beatkillerz, MK Ultra, Peacemaker, Peligro, Gum-B, Lockjah, and Uncut.  There were even more djs smashed into that night, which is a testament to the greatness of Spin's 4am closure clause.  Spectr also contributed to the rad vibe with some classic art pieces, which always give me a little flitter of nostalgia in my heart remembering the epic Drumz parties back in my heyday.  I see a Spectr piece on the wall, and I know it's going to be a good night.

Justifiably, all of the DnB legends were slotted for the main room, and all or most of the local talent was lined up in the smaller upstairs room, to the side of one of the outdoor smoking areas.  An interesting phenomenon to this party became clear as soon as I walked in, the whole party was crammed into this smaller, local talent room.  The fact that everyone smokes was certainly a contributing factor, but really it was because this was a local crowd, here to see all their local favourites.  It was really great to watch, and a testament to Havok's ability to put together a lineup as well as how many people in San Diego county are down to support the local scene.  Pretty incredible.

These guys in the "Anti-Whack Audio Survival Room" did not disappoint, either.  Every dj who stepped up to the decks brought hard, chest-rattling sets.  It was almost like a polite, continuous 2x4, with each dj trying to bring better and harder beats.  It was great to see that spirit again at a show.  Beatkillerz was one of the highlights per usual, and the crowd was really into it even though they were on at the same time as Gigantor downstairs.  The big surprise of the night for me was DJ Kechup.  I really hadn't heard of him before and he also played dubstep, which most of my readers by now should know I will not usually stay for more than about 15 minutes to listen to, but this guy's set was really out of control.  By the end, you couldn't move in this tiny room because it was just packed with people stomping to the bass.  I literally was shocked at how much energy this dj crammed into a dubstep set, as well as speed and smooth mixes.  Just brilliant.  I will look for him again.

I'm not discounting the main room and the great performances put on by the headlining djs.  Gigantor/Evol Intent was of course mindblowing, and the crowd definitely shifted when he was on the decks.  Another surprise, just because I didn't really know them, were Dysphemic & Miss Eliza.  Really hadn't heard of them before either and didn't look them up before the show, so imagine my surprise to walk into the main room to see a dude on the decks with a girl playing an electrified violin, playing classical music!  This act somehow coordinated sick DnB beats with classical violin, and it absolutely blew me away.  I wish I hadn't been crammed into the local room for most of their set, and I will pretty much be stalking these two for the rest of my life  I love creativity like that, and it's proof positive that if there's beauty and truth in two types of music, you can marry them to make a completely unique creation that exposes its parts in a totally new way.  I'm very grateful to Havok Mega for booking these people, and exposing San Diego heads to something we never would have seen otherwise.

Clearly this was a great event, crowd-balancing awkwardness notwithstanding, and anyone who missed it should be regretful.  Drumz's next event is hot on the heels of this review, as the next installment of Dirty Birdy hits Taste & Thirst on June 7, and this time it's Hip Hop vs Glitch Hop.  I kind of don't know what that entails, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's not to miss a Drumz party.  There will always be something going on that you didn't expect.


Peligro on the decks lookin evil

MC CSD framed by a sick classic Spectr painting with extremely fast-moving left hand.

Peacemaker looking like he's listening to the actual record.
Havok Mega with the Beatkillerz about to yell some shit.

Dudes posing drunkenly including Gigantor, Eraser and RFX.