Digging the scene at “This Ain’t a Scene” with a gangsta lean

This Ain't a Scene

This past Saturday, I went to the 1650 Gallery in Echo Park to check out the opening of This Ain’t a Scene: The Vibrant Music Community of East LA which was co-presented by Radio Free Silver Lake and compiled by Jackie Lam. Radio Free Silver Lake is a website focused on Indie music in Los Angeles.

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Map of the Eastside Map of Silver Lake Map of HiFi Map of Echo Park Map of the Mideast Side
Pendersleigh maps
Note: The “East LA” of the subtitle could be construed as a bit misleading.. East Los (whose vibrant music community produced performers like Black Eyed Peas, Cannibal & the Headhunters, Hope Sandoval, J-vibe, Kid Frost, Lalo Guerrero, Los Lobos, Los IllegalsLouie Perez, Luis Villegas, Quetzal, Suzanna Guzman, Taboo, The Bags, The Blazers, Thee Midniters and Tierra and  supported live venues like Club 469Eastside Nightclub, El Club BaionKennedy Hall, The Lamp Lighter, The M ClubRudy’s Past House and Vex) is not represented here. The bands and venues depicted in this show are, if I’m not mistaken, all from Echo Park, P-Town and Silver Lake — three neighborhoods in the eastern portion of Central LA that belong to a region that no one has named with a widely-accepted term.) Enough quibbling about geography and nomenclature from me… let’s start the show.

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The participating photographers include Angela Holtzen, Ben Hoste, Carl Pocket, Gabriela Gonzalez, George Tapia, Jeff Koga, Laurie Scavo, Levent Buyukgural, Michael Gomez Burton, Michele Evans, Miriam Brummel, Olivia Hemaratanatorn, Rollence Patugan, Sterling Andrews, Timothy Norris, and Zoe-Ruth Erwin. Click here for mini bios on Radio Free Silver Lake.

Live acoustic music was provided by Andrew Spitser from Radars to the Sky, Kelli Noftle from Miniature Soap, Rob Danson from Death to Anders, Ryan Fuller of Fort King, and The Smugg Brothers.

Of the bands depicted, I only recognized The Warlocks and Dios as acts that I can say I’ve knowingly heard before — some of the names sounded familiar too. For someone who’s worked at and for record shops for over ten years, my ignorance of indie rock is vast… and judging by the prevalence of beards and plaid shirts in the photos, I’m guessing that’s what kind of music most of the subjects make. (Also, I recognized The Echo and Echoplex, Pehspace, Satellite, Silverlake Lounge and Spaceland).


Kelli Noftle performed Prince’s “When You Were Mine”

Some would find my lack of knowledge a hindrance, I liked to think that allowed me to evaluate the photos as art and not get bogged down by the subjects. The exhibit includes band portraits as well as snapshots of rehearsals, behind-the-scenes photos, and photos of live performances. Although I didn’t recognize the subjects, I liked George Tapia’s use of color, Levent Buyukgural’s command of atmosphere and the sense of immediacy in Jeff Koga’s pictures. However, I was most taken with the photographs of Zoe-Ruth Erwin. You can see them on the galleries website here – or better yet, go to the gallery and check them out for yourself! And check out future art openings in this charming gallery space too. Next up is Wanderlust: Travels Near and Far… I’m planning on being there.

Smugg Brothers
The Smugg Brothers doing their version of “Sin City”

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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