Los Issues, Sylvia Juncosa, Hellbat, and BAMF
Cafe Nela, Los Angeles, CA
March 14, 2014
Time: 9:00 PM
I hadn’t been out to a club or seen any live music in about four months when I got a text from a female friend asking if I wanted to come out to a show. Hey, being that it was the day after my birthday and since each year since getting married has been a concentrated effort on some people’s part not to celebrate my birthday, I thought, “Fuck it, I’m going.”
Now to get to this club I had to take three or four freeways, 405 to the 118 to the 5 then hop the 2. Jesus Christ. I finally get off the freeway and I drive up and down Cypress a half a dozen times. There’s this big ass tree out front and I can’t find a number, then I flip around the block and hit a one-way street. Fuck.
One big plus is there is parking on the street (once you find the place), which is much cooler than the Redwood, where you pay five bucks to park and at the end of the night you find a homeless guy having relations with your car’s tailpipe.
Once I get to Café Nela’s door I notice the guy at the door looks a lot like the old doorman for the above mentioned Redwood. So I ask, he says, “Yeah.” Then I tell him a story of the last time I saw him and what he was doing.
In July of 2013, I went to the Redwood to see A Pretty Mess. This short little guy who looks like the construction worker from the Village People comes in drunk, noisy and talking shit to his friends. What? This can’t be Mike! These seem to be all the classic signs of a Napoleon-complex. Anyway, as the night wore on this little fella kept annoying the doorman, he would yell at him, then slam-dance into him. Finally the doorman would lift him up and toss him onto the stage, and then he’d throw him against the wall. After twenty minutes of this his friends took him out of the club.
The Café Nela doorman looks at me and nods and says, “Yeah, those situations are tough. Management doesn’t always have your back.” I look and say, “How do you mean?” He says, “They don’t let you hit these guys in the jaw.” I hold in my laugh and say, “Wow, that’s rough. Ah, try to stay away from my jaw tonight.”
Before walking away to jaw safety, I ask the doorman where would be a good place to hang out until show time (the show starts at 9:00 and I got there at 8:30)? He said there was a decent El Salvadoran restaurant next door, but the really good food was on the corner (by corner he meant six blocks down). A Mexican food-truck?! So, I ask what every white man should ask when being told about a truck “on the corner,” is it safe? Is it restaurant-quality or am I going to be hugging the toilet for the next three days? The doorman assured me that it was great.
Walking back to the club (after experiencing the truck “on the corner”) I see my female friend at the El Salvadoran restaurant next door. She introduced me to her date, I shook his hand and he looked at the floor real quick. Boys and girls this is called “showing your hand.” I felt like I was obligated to say, “I’m not here to steal your woman, I’m saying Hi.” I didn’t, I smiled and went back to the club.
I saw sound-man Nubs Gutmacher at the front entrance of the club and he made my announcement, “Oh this is Mike Essington, he writes good books.” Shit that’s better than carrying an American Express.
I paid my five bucks and walked into a great soundtrack being played by Nubs. First Black Flag’s Louie Louie, a few other local tracks, and then Black Flag’s Damaged 1, 2 or 3 (I don’t know). The walls were cover with various Dave Markey events, The Year Punk Broke, We Got Power, etc.
And Nubs was doing a great job with the sound.
The first band up was Los Issues. This was the band I’ve wanted to see for a while. The drummer, Billy Caldwell, was the former vocalist/guitarist for Million Kids and I always enjoyed their shows. A very cool garage feel to these guys (and gal).
The best way to sum up Los Issues is to describe them as a punk band with a metal flair; kind of like if Rob Halford joined Black Flag. Vocals for Los Issues were great and the bass player was a beast, he played and punched the shit out of his bass. Billy Caldwell provided a tight rhythm section (with the beast) for the vocalist/guitarist. They were a really tight three-piece.
Next up was Sylvia Juncosa. Now I’ve seen Sylvia play before, so I was a little familiar with her sound. And guess what? She and her three-piece band were better than the last time I saw her. Sylvia plays a very cool bluesy sound. If you haven’t seen her before, definitely go next time she’s playing locally.
After Sylvia’s set I cut out (sorry Hellbat, and BAMF). I was feeling a little out of sorts so I headed to the market and picked up stuff for the boy’s lunches for the next week and a quick stop at the local Jack In The Box for their mystery meat tacos. Yep, good way to start the birthday weekend. Yay me!