DS Photo Gallery & Show Review: True Rivals, Sid and The Twins, The Dirges & Cross-Check (Los Angeles, 11/13/15)

True Rivals at Loaded in Hollywood

With the constant threat of stabbings, gunshots and epic super hero brawls, Hollywood isn’t the most desirable place to hang out in the greater Los Angeles metro area. So, imagine our dilemma when we got the invite for a free True Rivals show at Loaded on Hollywood Blvd, the belly of the beast. To make matters even worse, it was set for Friday the 13th! You thought Tinsel Town was crazy on a regular Friday night? You haven’t seen crazy until you’ve been there on the 13th. The most fitting course of action? Send our most expendable Staffer down and just hope they come back intact. We reviewed our annual performance reports and found that Anarchopunk was the most unproductive and least liked writer in the office, so we took a vote and we chose him as the sacrificial lamb. Fortunately, for the sake our beloved readers (but just as unfortunate for our writer’s bullpen)  he returned unscathed with the deets on the whole affair for your enjoyment. Check out his full write up and photo gallery below!

 

Free show? I’m in. That’s really all I need to know. Free = Yes. Los Angeles isn’t a very cheap place to live, so anytime I can take advantage of free entertainment, I jump at the chance. Anything to stem the bleeding of my constantly hemorrhaging wallet. Our friends in True Rivals always put on a great shindig, so I didn’t even really do too much research into the other local bands because I knew it would be worth attending…..but mostly because life has been kicking me in the nuts pretty hard lately and I didn’t have time. So, I grabbed my favorite photog, Josie Not Grossie, hopped on the Red Line and traversed the hills to Loaded on the Walk of Fame!

Cross-Check has only been around for about a year now, but from their performance, you wouldn’t know it, although they did seem to have a hard time fitting on the small stage of Loaded. The guitarist started the set down in front of the stage on the still filling dance floor probably out of necessity. He eventually found his plot up with the rest of his band mates about halfway through the opening song which was a long, entrancing instrumental (always a prefect way to start off a show if you can swing it). It had pounding bass riffs and built gradually from a slower rock tempo to a harder, more edgy punk tempo as it progressed. This four piece would probably best fit in the garage punk category but they are cleaner, more precise than most others in that subgenre. The vocals are probably their most “garage-esque” trait. They’re aggressive, loud and abrasive, think Crazy Tom Davis from DFL. The music was simple but still showed good range. They can certainly thrash with the best of them, but they also showed some more variety and composure with a few songs that sounded more hardcore than anything. Since I hadn’t done any pre-show research, I didn’t even find out that they were Christian punk until checking their social media pages the day after. I’ve never been a fan of Christian punk. Not because I don’t believe in a god (although I don’t) but mainly because I don’t like being preached to or told that I need to change what or who I am. I don’t do well with rules. These guys certainly have some religious overtones in their lyrics but it’s not always prevalent and it never feels like it’s being forced on you. More like they’re just doing their thing and if you like it, you like it. So, go see if you like it, I sure did! Their demo, just released a little earlier this year is available for Name Your Price on Bandcamp!

The Dirges definitely get the award for most original band of the evening. They’re an aggressive folky (“AgFo” for short) five piece from right there in Hollywood and even though they have been part of the scene since 2002 and played with bands like Flogging Molly, The Briggs, Millencolin and The Young Dubliners, I had never had the pleasure of hearing them. Now, after being introduced, I can’t imagine my playlist without them! I listen to a metric shit ton of punk music and If I’m honest, a great deal of it starts to sound the same. Then, out of nowhere, like a beacon of originality, a band like The Dirges pops up on your radar and you get to freshen up your music library a little. What other punk acts feature flutes, mandolins, lap steels and an old school organ that sounds kind of like something Ray Manzarek would be jamming on? None. The answer is no other bands. Their sound is rooted in Celtic Street rock, but it has earthy, honest, hardworking folk cut in, to even it out and take the edge off, it’s very unique. It reminds me of the music I would hear in the mountains of North Carolina when the family would visit in the Autumn months. The music composition itself was wide ranging, from slow, more plodding ballads to downright dirty hardcore street punk, these guys and gals can do it all. Fans of the Boondock Saints films will probably instantly recognize them as they are also featured on the soundtrack for the second installment of the series. If there’s one take away from this review, let it be The Dirges.

If my frisky femme photographer is to be trusted, Sid and The Twins was the best looking band of the night, garnering a whopping score of “fucking hot” on the Josie Hotness Scale (we’re not just pieces of meat, ladies….unless you want us to be). Although I didn’t share her exuberance over the attractiveness of the band, we both agreed that Sid and The Twins was a superb act. This LA based trio consists of Sid Johnson on guitar and (you guessed it!) twins Justin and Jesse Bivona of Interrupters fame on bass and drums respectively. They hit the stage a bit later than anticipated causing my beer to band ratio of 1 to 1 to get quite a bit unbalanced. I quickly forgave them though because they had the most entertaining sound check of the night by far. They threw in some humor and interacted with the audience, which helps get a restless crowd on your side. Not that they would’ve had a hard time gaining fans after the set started, these guys can absolutely shred. My semi-coherent notes read “Ramones + Decendants but harder”. Even in a more lucid state, I agree with inebriated Anarchopunk’s assessment. Fun, pop punk with metal and garage influence thrown in for a little grit laid behind intelligent, well thought out lyrics (a little more eloquent without the hindrance of PBR). As with many smaller bands, everyone contributes on vocals which always keeps my interest piqued a little more than a traditional band with just a single lead vocalist. They also showed respects to the late Brandon Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket, dedicating a song to him near the end of the thirty minute set. All in all, very tight set. Keep an eye out for these boys and not just you ladies.

As LA based punk rock act True Rivals took the stage for sound check just before midnight, I realized by now that the beer had far, far outnumbered the bands performing and my notes were pretty much illegible, so I left my post by the bar and moseyed on down to the front with the rest of the riffraff for a better view of the main event. I guess because the only other time I saw them live was at an outdoor venue I never realized just how loud these guys are. My ears were still ringing more than 24 hours later (that’s normal, right?). I’m sure the skinny, corridor like interior of the bar helped increase the volume a little, but damn, these boys rage on stage! Speaking of the stage, this quartet used it way more effectively than anyone else during the evening. As mentioned earlier, it’s an exceptionally small stage, but these guys acted like it was a 40 foot Colosseum stage set up. Trevor was literally bouncing off the walls and almost fell off the stage a few times because he was stretching the limits of it’s bounds at every turn. The pace of the set was blistering as expected and consisted of mainly songs from their sole LP The Revenant, opening with my personal favorite track “Right Behind”. At one point, I heard a song I didn’t recognize but I’m still not certain whether it was a new one or not (they are back in the studio). To close out the set, they gave us a little surprise, when Christine Doanzig of Dirty Black Summer (a local Danzig/Misfits tribute band) joined them on stage. I couldn’t make out the song or the lyrics as my ears had pretty much quit on me stopped but her performance was glorious. The emotion and the energy that she exuded was just as thick as the air had gotten with the packed house. It was perfectly times, just when you thought the show was winding down, she stepped on stage on got you pumped up and ready to conquer the shit-fest that is the Boulevard at 1am on Friday the 13th and for that I cannot thank her enough.

 


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