"Rock music is boring right now," declared and lamented club owner Sam Lanni of Safari Sam's during their "Community Open House Meeting" on Tuesday night.
When the Militant first heard about this event, he was expecting people who lived around the corner to voice their opinions on possible parking, noise and/or littering issues from patrons of the 15-month old East Hollywood nightspot. Surely a new club inviting the community to speak out about whether they're a good neighbor or not is worth talking about.
Whether intentional or not, the event was totally different in nature and was more of a discussion on the state of the music industry, more specifically the live music scene in Los Angeles circa 2007. Either way, the Militant was interested.
Lanni complained about uninspired, homogenous "shoegazer" bands performing their droll repertoire to a thinned-out crowd who just stands there, meagerly clapping between songs, and worse, crowds only present for the 45 or so minutes the band they intended to see is onstage. When the set is over, they leave.
More than a few in the 30-or-so, almost exclusively white crowd (aside from the Militant, the only ethnic faces were those representing the local neighborhood council at their outreach table. And when the people from the "community" look more white than the people from the neighborhood council, something's not quite right...) chimed in, in accord, "That's an L.A. thing," Of course, insinuating that every person in Los Angeles, including the guy who sells oranges by the 101 offramp, is shallow, flaky and self-absorbed. Uh, okay. Though one woman, bless her soul, muttered, "That's how it is in Chicago, too..." but it's likely no one heard what she said, or wanted to recognize that such words were uttered.
But Lanni mentioned that his old-school country (not contemporary Nashville country, he stressed) shows don't exhibit those same traits as his rock shows -- the bands support each other and watch each other's sets, and the crowd has a great time. "I don't want to have to make this a country music club," he quipped.
One veteran in the crowd, however, recalled that back in the '80s, in the era of the most "L.A." of all "L.A. rock scenes" -- The '80s glam/hair metal era -- bands would support each other and watched each other's shows. He mentioned how a person going to, say, a Poison show back in the say, could easily spot members of Ratt or Motley Crue in the crowd. The camaraderie, he mentioned, is lost these days.
Of course, these days, the crowd agreed, there are a plethora of clubs in the scene, catering to an overabundance of bands.
The Militant blames it all on the indie rock thing. Maybe he's getting old, but he just doesn't get it. So a hipster can strap a battered Fender Mustang knockoff guitar around his neck and strum on a couple chords. What is driving him to do such an activity? Boredom? Conformity? Whatever it is, it's certainly not the same stuff that drove alienated young Britons in the '70s to make punk, nor is it anything close to what inspired African American youths in the West Bronx to create this music/movement/culture called hip-hop.
The Militant knows there are lots of scenes and sub-scenes, genres and sub-genres never discovered by the mainstream club scene, or even the "mainstream underground" club scene. Latino punk bands from South Los Angeles? Korean-American hip-hop events? (but oh, many of you have seen this one) many laugh because such notions are way out of their mainstream paradigms, and most of all don't fit the mainstream's ethnic-stereotyped compartments. But if one wants to look at art borne out of alienation and disenfranchisement, there's lots from our ethnic communities. They're more underground than "the underground," which is determined by tastemakers far removed (in so many ways) from the living, breathing multiculture of the ignored, the disregarded, the invisible. The Militant has seen (and may have even participated in) these beyond-underground scenes. Though the level of talent ranges from novice to the OMG, there is a definite drive and purpose to their artistry. The unfortunate thing is, they "preach to the choir" and are largely celebrated only within their own enclaves. Unfortunate, because they have incredible potential to educate others about their own cultures, yet in most cases that has not yet come to their realization.
But as clubs, promoters and the like either lament the lack of creativity or originality, or merely perpetuate it, something is going on outside their windows that they might really be into...as long as they recognize it's there.