After years of studying music, I feel a natural connection with musicians everywhere, and I developed many strong bonds within the music community in Northern California. Even though I’m no longer working as a musician, I still enjoy checking out live music whenever I get a chance, and it’s always a treat when I get to see my friends from the Bay Area performing right here in the city of angels. A couple weeks ago, some of my favorite South Bay musicians were rockin’ hella (a little token Bay Area slang for ya) hard at the Knitting Factory’s Bluebeat Lounge with their ska band the Whiskey Avengers. When they called me up and told me they would be playing in my neck of the woods, I couldn’t resist the urge dig out my plaid shorts and newsie cap and head down to Hollywood Boulevard to skank it up on the dance floor.
Alright, honestly, I haven’t been a ska fan since I was 14 and really don’t know that much about skankin’ either for that matter, but I was pretty surprised at how much of a ska scene still exists in Los Angeles. I guess it’s just one of those LA subcultures that I rarely encounter. Nevertheless, I was there in the audience with my friend Bonnie, photographer Jeff Koga, and two local guitarists, Nick Fannon and Rosh Roslin. Sure enough, this little-known band from Northern California was playing to a room full of hip hats and plaid pants that were grooving to their songs about loose women and the joys and evils of alcohol consumption. We all showed off our moves in an epic skank-off; I’ll leave it to you to guess who in our modest group was the skankiest (hint: it wasn’t a guitarist or a girl). Needless to say, the Whiskey Avengers rocked the joint, and they were by far the best band of the night.
In the hours surrounding the show, I heard rumors from a variety of sources that claimed that the Knitting Factory would soon be closing its doors for good. A few minutes of Internet research quickly confirmed these stories. Amidst the many blocks of live music venues on the streets of Hollywood, the Knitting Factory has served as a bastion of wholesome entertainment for hipsters of all ages. Once their lease is up at the end of October, where will the young ska fans go to skank? Where will prepubescent punks go to mosh? Where will maturing metalheads bang their heads? Where will idealistic indie rockers go to avoid conformity? Sure, those of us who are old enough to legally consume alcohol while gettin’ down to our favorite Van Halen cover band have plenty of other options, but LA’s youth will be lost without an outlet for expressing themselves in terms of the specific genre of music they enjoy.
It’s always sad when a community loses a performance venue. Artists need locations to exhibit their talents, and fans need opportunities to personally show their appreciation. Fortunately, the Knitting Factory is considering opening a new location in another part of town, but who knows how long that will take. For now, get out on the scene and enjoy some live music. Musicians are struggling to survive in this recession even more so than they were when the economy was strong, so they could use some support an appreciation.