LA Shakedown, The: A Breakdown By Kristen K

(Note: Due to fact that this article – as all live reviews for Razorcake are – was slated for this here website and not the print version, we were denied free access to this event, as was the promoters’ prerogative. Tim was kind enough to lay some hard cash on the line to provide what you’re reading. Todd took all the pictures. They aren’t from the Shakedown, but are from his archive and are bands that Tim gives props to.)

After the first Shakedown in Vegas, I said it was the best time I ever had. It was like cramming all the fun you can have on tour into three days. I was definitely going to the next one. In fact, I couldn’t wait for it. Then, after the second one, I decided that if it was not in a casino with a lot of bands I wanted to see I would skip it. When I saw the line up for the LA Shakedown, I wasn’t that stoked except that the Scientists were playing. Then, when they moved the venue from Hollywood, I said I would be surprised if it even happened, because moving the venue a month out points to problems. I should start a psychic hot line or something.

My friend Tiffany was begging me to go on this trip. I was putting off making up my mind until I found out if the Adolescents were playing in LA within the next couple of months. When I found out they were not, I figured the show couldn’t be that bad. Besides, the weather was going to be way better than in St. Louis.

I decided on a nice four-day stay – get there early on Friday, hang out, and have Monday after the Shakedown to see what else I could do. The start of my trip was spent like everyone else at Lambert St. Louis International Airport, being searched thoroughly by security, since we had an “orange” rating for terror. Super. Not only that but I had to wait in a line of traffic to get through Check Point Charlie. They only search mini vans and SUVs. I guess the thought that someone could plant something large inside the trunk of a Lincoln hasn’t crossed their minds. (Oh, by the way, if you see that cool little notice on the American Airlines website about printing out your boarding pass, make sure you join the Advantage club first. Otherwise you can’t take “advantage” of that little process.)

Once I made my through security, where my bags were tossed, I finally got to the farthest possible gate from the city of St. Louis and saw that my flight would be packed. I did see a few folks that looked like they might be headed to the Shakedown but I didn’t start up any conversations with them. Once I got to my seat I noticed that the guy next to me was placing a snare into the overhead. I didn’t think any thing of it except to say, “Hmm, that’s a snare.” At this point, my brain was not moving really quick. I settled in with my book, but once the plane was in the air I couldn’t resist the temptation to watch the in-flight movie, Sweet Home Reese Witherspoon Is So Hot Alabama. Once we landed in LA, the guy next to me pulled his snare out and I noticed a Gaza Strippers sticker on the case. I mentioned that I had seen them many times and loved their shows. He said he was in town for the Shakedown and that he was in Nine Pound Hammer. That was the most I saw of Nine Pound Hammer.

I was told that traffic from LAX to the downtown hotel I was staying at – just across the street from the venue, Variety Arts Center – would be really bad. I must admit there was a lot of traffic but it did seem to move. It only took me about thirty minutes. I have noticed that in LA the traffic is quick, which I don’t mind one bit, but I could do without the constant breaking and lane changes for no plausible reason other than to piss me off. Oh, and those drag races to the highway were kind of cool until I realized that it wasn’t a race where you are parallel to the other car. No, it’s a race to see if you can make it the fifty feet to the freeway before the other guy cuts you off. Or in my case, cuts them off. Look out pal, I’ve got an SUV and I mean business. Okay, it was a Jeep Liberty; not exactly an Excursion.

Ah, at the lovely Holiday Inn. My friend Tiffany was not there yet. She was somewhere in Hollywood after flying in from Chicago earlier in the morning. I changed into a pair of shorts since it so wonderfully warm and took a walk to see the venue. I wanted to see exactly where it was and see if anyone else was in the area. Mainly, I was hungry. The Pop Tarts I brought on the plane with me were no longer doing the trick. I walked out the front door and turned right. I figured the venue was the giant blue building just across Olympic. I walked across the intersection and made my way to the front of the building. There it was. A giant sign that read, “LA SHAKEDOWN 15th & 16th NOT HERE.” I just stood there. Mouth open. Head tilted upward. Thinking, “Can I get a complete sentence here?” Once the shock wore off, I read it again and looked around, hoping that there’d be someone standing there for me to yell at. I was out of luck. I walked on down the street in search of food. I found a mall and a food disco within to satisfy my hunger. Yet, I had no answers.

After I ate, I headed back to the room and called Tiffany to let her know about the venue change. She had already heard about it from another friend that was in town for the show. There was some rumor that it would be held around the corner and that part of the show would be at two other venues. Sure glad I moved my room downtown from Hollywood to be walking distance from the show. Tiffany also informed me that she had heard that DI was playing some place in Orange County. I was stoked. I had not seen them since their show in St. Louis a little over a year ago. I couldn’t wait to actually see a punk rock show in a small club in Orange County. I just didn’t know how small it would be. The Doll Hut is about the size of someone’s basement, but it was a great time and DI totally rocked. I was just happy to be seeing Casey and DI and to be warm in February. Unless you have lived for any time in the cold you just don’t really understand how much that means to someone that hates winter as much as I do. The drive down to the show was a bit hectic. We kept coming up on slow traffic. I kept thinking about all those Flipside reviews I had read for twenty years that went, “Yeah, we tried to make (fill in the blank) but we got stuck in traffic and missed the whole show.” I was NOT going to be that guy, so I drove as fast as I could when the traffic would allow. I was doing ninety and still getting passed.

With a gut still full of Denny’s Saturday morning, I got up to see if anyone was out in front of the Variety Arts Center to tell me what was up with the show. Right away I saw someone from St. Louis, which, by the way, is not hard to do. I don’t just mean for shows out of town. Anywhere you go, you will find someone from St. Louis. It’s because everyone wants to get out of here as soon as they can. Anyway, this guy had the lowdown.
The new venue was on Grand, just three blocks away. Not too bad. I can live with that. Then the kicker – part of the show would be at the Garage. I don’t know anything about the Garage except that I think it is probably really small.

We walked up to the door and were told to, “Check in within the next couple of minutes.” I walked back to the hotel to get my receipt for my ticket and told Tiffany what was going on. She was still asleep. It seemed that the no real booze deal at the Doll Hut was still kicking her ass. She had to down glass after glass of wine and bottle after bottle of beer in an attempt to make up for a lack of real alcohol. Lucky for me, I’m the “straight edge” guy. I go around remembering stuff and making it to shows on time. I told her what was up and headed back over to get my wristband. Then I thought I would hang out to see the first few bands and get something to eat. Ah, such a plan it was, too.

When I got back, there was a line that went all the way down the sidewalk and across the parking lot entrance. The folks in front of me confirmed the two-venue news. So I chit chatted with them a bit – a group of guys from Chicago, no less – more people in love with the weather. The folks behind me were from Tahoe or some where near there. We would all become friends. That’s because we had three hours to kill while we all stood there wondering what was going on with this show. Over the next three hours we talked back and forth. It would come out over this time that one of them, Jay, knew some people that I knew in Atlanta. When you ask someone if they know so and so, you never really expect them to say yes. I think the degrees of separation in punk rock are about one. Not only did we have mutual friends, but we had a love of skateboarding, a history of dating insane young girls, and a mutual serious crush on the drummer from The Applicators. Wow, is all I have to say. I love Texas!

After three hours, we made it into the show. The deal was that there would be a free shuttle bus running every few minutes to the Garage and back. Seemed simple enough. I wanted to see Black Cat Music over there at nine and get back in time for Youth Brigade at 10:30. That was my plan.

I’m not going to even pretend that I saw most of the bands that played this Shakedown. And I do mean “shakedown.” I watched a few minutes of Piss Ant. Cleavage and bad rock does not a Joan Jett make. I watched the Discontent but I don’t remember much of it. Mostly, at this point, I was hanging out with my new friends from Tahoe and checking out the drummer of The Applicators until they went on stage. They were really good, totally rocked out. And it wasn’t just because the hot drummer chick was wearing plaid pants.

The next band I saw was Camarosmith, but not for long. At this time my head was spinning from lack of food. I talked to my friend, Eric, who was in town from Chicago, about leaving and coming back. We found out that if you left you wouldn’t have to wait in the mile-long line with the non-wristband people. We bailed for food. I was supposed to meet Tiffany and some other people at the hotel bar. We ate and Eric went ahead to try and catch his friend’s band, The Dogs. I rounded up Tiffany and the drunk chick crew and went back to the show. They all needed to stand in line to get their wristbands. I went over to the wristband-wearing line. The first person I saw was Eric, still in line after twenty minutes. It turned out that if you left, you had to wait forever in the line to get back in even though you had been in already. While standing there it became apparent that going to the Garage would be a bad idea. I love Black Cat Music and really wanted to see them, but they were sending over busloads of people – more than what I heard the club held. All I knew was that it was getting close to seven and The Catheters were supposed to play at 7:30. There was no way I was going to miss them. In a few minutes, we finally got back inside. This was where the real fun started.

The Catheters time slot got moved, I guess, because I watched The Hunns for most of their set. I found them to be all right. But I must admit it was a lot like the US Bombs, with Duane singing and all. Not a bad thing. I’m just saying. Of course, the other thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was the fact that there was a transsexual on stage with really big fake tits. He/she looked familiar, too. But since I don’t drink, I ruled out the most scary of options as to why that was true. Turned out to be the former bass player from Nashville Pussy. She almost set the place on fire with that fire breathing act. Yawn.

I was worried that I was missing the Catheters, so I bailed and went out side again to an alleyway along the side of the building where the vendors were set up. I noticed right away that there was a fireman walking around. Not thinking they were so heroic at that moment, I was just waiting for the show to get shut down. I called Tiffany on her cell. She was still in line. (Yes, I know how not punk that is, but really, it’s technology just like my turntable. How you gonna listen to Black Flag without it?) She had just been told that no more people were going to be let into the show. People that had pre-paid. People that came from as far away as? well, St. Louis and Chicago and points south of the equator. Not cool. Tiffany later told me that she was screaming at the security guy that he had better have a knife on him because he was about to get lynched. She was already pissed that some “crime stopper” had taken her beer away.

Once the fire department left, the Catheters set up and rocked the house. Man, I really love this band. They let loose with the kind of energy that can only be reached by almost having the show shut down moments before you play. It’s a kind of crazed abandon that only makes you rock that much more. The same feeling can be reached by driving ten hours, breaking down twice and making it just as the band before you is finishing up. You have no choice but rock out. And that is just what the mighty Catheters did.

Moving on from the Catheters, I watched the Briefs. I don’t really get this band. I love the new wave, don’t get me wrong, but this particular mixture of the Weirdos meets Toy Dolls just doesn’t do it for me. I have seen them three times now and each time I try so hard to like them. And each time I fail. It is purely my fault. I mean, it must be. So many people love this band. What is wrong with me?

I walked back to the middle area where one of the bars was located. I ran into a former St. Louis kid that now works at Hopeless in San Diego. We talked a bit and I headed for a seat. I realized that I had been standing for many, many hours. From the booth, I found I could look around the corner and see the Makers. I really used to dig this band. I think it’s the stupid LA/Rod Stewart haircuts. They totally bum me out. While sitting there I also noticed a hot little Asian girl walk through the crowd. I thought for a second that it was my friend from St. Louis that lives in LA now. I shrugged it off. It couldn’t be her. They were told that they couldn’t get into the show. Then a few seconds later I saw this shock of white hair. It was Tiffany. And that meant one thing. The hot Asian girl was indeed my friend from home. And I must find her.

The night was supposed to end with the Dwarves and Supersuckers. Yeah, right. The second stage ended with Youth Brigade, which I was stoked to see. What I could have done without were the guys that wanted to start a pit. Nothing worse than a pit of three. Except the even sadder version. The pit of one drunk dude with his shirt off. Yes, it’s times like these that call for public beat downs.

I rounded off the night with running into another old friend from home that lives in San Diego. She had seen me all night but was convinced it wasn’t me. I watched a bit of DMZ but the sound was so bad that I bailed.

I hit the bed around two to be awakened at six by the return of Tiffany. She had been out doing things that warranted the wearing of shades the next day to avoid detection by those she didn’t remember hanging out with the night before for fear of what she didn’t remember doing or saying. I filled her in on the bits that I knew of just so I could give her the Nelson from the Simpson’s “ha ha.” Straight Edge Guy sucks.

It was a Sunday morning nightmare. Tiffany left with her friends to eat and get their wristbands. I left for a nice three-hour cruise to Dr. Strange. Yahoo Maps? Yeah, no good. I was lost. I made my way to where ever Dr. Strange is located and spent a bunch of money on records. Some, I had to replace after an unfortunate loss after a break up. Never ever mix your records.

Anyway, I made my way back just in time to see the Dragons. I love this band. This time things were running more smoothly. I had missed The Fuse, though, and I did want to see them. Before the Dragons, I did catch a bit of Hangmen who were pretty cool. They made some comment about being in Europe and how every one wanted to talk politics. They were not down. I gave them a mental thumbs up for that. They got another thumbs up for covering the Lords of the New Church. At least I think it was the Hangmen. I watched all of the Dragons and they rocked. The Dragons played some new songs that will be on their newest release to be put out by the mighty Gearhead. I can’t wait.

Guitar Wolf. Uh, I don’t get it. I watched a bit and tried but I bailed because the Epoxies were down stairs. Now, they were great. They pull off the new wave in a fashion I’m more down with. I don’t really dig chick singers but this girl can sing. Oh, man, can she move those hips. They had it all. The keyboards, the catchy fast tunes, and the guitars without head stocks. Can you say The Cars? I really liked these guys. This was my first time hearing them, too. I had only read about them and understood that I could get my new wave on during their set.

I then went over to see the Stitches. People love this band. People do. I, on the other hand, am just not that down. They play pretty cool, catchy music, but the vocals are bit high-pitched and nasal for my taste. And I don’t really dig that no distortion guitar sound. Other than that, they do put on a good show. There are just some things I can’t get around. I did stay for the whole set, hoping to change my mind. I stuck around for Throw Rag. I knew I had seen them in Vegas in 2001 but I couldn’t remember them. Then I saw it. The wash board. Sorry guys, I can’t take it. Too Hee Haw for me. I guess the songs might be good. But I can’t hear them. All I hear is my inner voice, “Dude’s playing a wash board, get outta here.”

The night was winding down for me. I had fallen in love with about a hundred girls, but I never saw the totally hot chick from the first two Shakedowns. She had that cool, messed-up hair in back thing going on both times. I dubbed her “hottest girl at the Shakedown” two years in a row. I thought this whole crew of way dressed up chicks were from LA, just because that’s what I expect from LA. To my dismay, she was not there. By this time, I talked to Eric from Chicago and Tiffany about going on over to the Dragonfly to see the Dwarves. I had never seen them before. We raced over there and caught all twenty minutes of their ripping set. I had been warned they play very short sets of maybe five minutes. We got lucky with twenty.

After the Dwarves, we ended up in Hollywood at the home of another former St. Louis resident. Well, actually, St. Charles. They had the four-foot Weber fired up at four a.m. for a total meat meal. Chicken, brats and rib eyes. I was there to live part of the dream – a block from Sunset, four in the morning and eating grilled meat. What better way to end a night?

Monday was a day to spend more money on records and wonder why I was at Venice Beach again after I decided it was a flea market with sand. Oh, yeah, to hang out with the totally hot Asian girl that I can’t stop thinking about just yet.

So, in summary: worst Shakedown yet. Best bands for me: The Dragons, Catheters, The Epoxies, Youth Brigade, and the Applicators. Weather in LA rules! Dr. Strange, Headline and Amoeba Records have a lot of my money and I have some great records to listen to now. Traffic is fast but there is way too much breaking. Hanging with Casey and seeing DI totally ruled. Hot Asian girl is still stuck in my head.