Friday, December 19, 2014

THE RAMPANT YEARS OF L.A. PUNK PART 2: TALES FROM THE MASQUE, THE FLEETWOOD, WHISKEY A GO-GO, STARWOOD.

A.N.: Attention!! This post is gonna be huge and will blow your mind with 80's Nostalgia. 
I don't presume to know everything as if I was physically there, but it's like I was. I might not be fully satisfied with the length of my English writing, that I often wish it more articulated than how it is. But I like to think of myself as a Punk journalist, also.
You see, passion can lead you anywhere in time, and sometimes you don't really need to be over-forty to show people you are a real Hardcore-driven person. 
Enjoy the reading.
V*




Picking up where we left off before..

I gave a quick yet in-depth round up for those bands who INSTANTLY felt related to the image and spirit of what was generally recognized as the Los Angeles punk scene. 

But the very roots had to be found out in quite something else.

Underground clubs, basements, auditoriums and theatres were first-choice music leading facilities which truly defined the birth of a new cutting-edge music sensibility getting its foothold by late '70s in America; they stood as home to so many acts that an immediate artistic linkage was established, and without them this would have never been possible.
Central and West Hollywood district areas got brimmed with the best venues (we'd rather say, "meccas") for punk shows hosting. They often consisted in apartments or buildings directly bought/brought to fame by rock promoters, booking agents and in some cases, old already-existing dance halls later adjusted to hold concerts.


(Masque Basement Interior Graffiti shot featured in the book "We Got Power!". Photo by David Markey.)


  • The Masque and Other Masque (1977-1979) were no doubt the clubs that bossed it over any other, when embryo Losangelenos weirdos started to pour out there like a flooding river. Founded by the ingenious mind of Brendan Mullen, the Masque gained recognition as most legendary punk venue in the history's shortest time lapse; all 1st American Wave bands played at the Masque: X, Bags, Germs, Skulls, Avengers, Screamers, Alley Cats, Rik L. Rik's F-Word, Weirdos, UXA, Dils, Flesh Eaters, Deadbeats, Plugz, Eyes, Controllers..










("Inside The Masque", 1997. Collection of photographs by Michael Yampolsky.)






(1st-2nd picture: Mr. Mullen in front of the Masque Spray-painted walls. RIP Man.)


















(Some epic flyers.. - they are never enough-)














(Bands shootings: Germs, UXA, Screamers, Avengers, Alley Cats, Weirdos, Bags.)











In those times when revolutionary art and music were solidified through one permanent bond, work of journalists, writers, independent photographers was far crucial, since they immortalized LA punk pioneers with an unique camera eye and uttered critical sense. Besides the great Edward Colver (who really deserved to be handled as "The Eye Of L.A. Scene"),  I can't avoid to mention a terrific artist like Ruby Ray, author of the awesome Punk Passage and From The Edge Of The World visual compendiums, which I received months ago by my friend Lowell, signed by Penelope Houston nonetheless..It was such a thrill to hold it in my hands, read the introduction with a full reference to Jon Savage, peer into the wonderful shots that Ruby did left me speechless. 
But wouldn't either be fair to forget names of the caliber of Jenny Lens, Theresa K, Ann Summa, James Stark, Vincent Ramirez..




(So excited 'n moved back when I got this.. Aww!!)



(L.A. Contingent. Left to Right: Hellin Killer, Trudie, Pleasant, Darby Crash, Nicky Beat, Alice Bag, Delphina, Lorna Doom, Pat Smear, Jena. Photography by Ruby Ray)


(Paul Roessler/Tomata Du Plenty from the Screamers. Ph. Ruby Ray)


(Ruby Ray)


(Penelope Houston caught screaming. Ph. Ruby Ray)


(Penelope and KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer. Ph. by Theresa K)


(Avengers by Theresa K)



As for magazines/fanzines, we can't deny the tremendous impact that Slash and Flipside had on nurturing and documenting California's most thriving movements. Some of Slash covers, like the ones picturing Exene, Darby, John Denney from Weirdos, have been straight made history.
Built around by a bunch of arty people known as the "Staph", in which Hudley and Al Kowalewski emerged as main publishers, Flipside shortly became the most long-lived Los Angeles #1 reference zine for Punk enthusiasts all over the country.
Even though existing just from '77 to '80, Slash held a prominent position in spreading the early scene's information, and still gets lotta interest on reissues being sold anew. Besides Bessy, Nissen and Samiof who created the issue, the magazine availed itself a large number of contributors among which Gary Panter, Monte Cazazza and Jeffrey Lee Pierce stand out. Both Slash and Flipside started important record labels like Slash Records, Flipside Records and Dangerhouse.


















(Thanks to Hudley Flipside Blog - for covers providing)


Getting back to the venues, yeah; the Masque wasn't the only rip-off club in Hollywood. Other joints were hella bitchin as much as managed to gain an excellent reputation for hosting the best hardcore punk pioneering bands. Here's I list a round-up of what I consider being those who tore it up in the day.

  • Stardust Ballroom (5612 Sunset Blvd. / 1975-1984) 
                             
     
 
    
         (Images Source: Gogo's Notebook Blog)





As name suggests, this space was initially set up in 1975 by bandleader Orrin Tucker, who turned an old skate rink into a nightclub where -mainly- elderly guests could dance to 30's-40's bigbands music. Yet soon around '79 and until '81, the venue also started hosting finest New Wave and Punk shows, to recoup with investments and audiences. 1984 saw the end of the Stardust, with its selling and later demolition in place of Home Depot.







  • Starwood NightClub (8151 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, 1973-1982)


Here we are.. One of the three diamond-pointed venues in terms of punk shows booking I wanted to highlight you. Originally called PJ's, it was strictly a jazz/classic rock club that hosted acts like Rush, Canned Heat, Mott The Hoople, Arthur Lee & Love, Bob Seger, Dr. Feelgood.. But from 1977 onwards, the Starwood became the stage that any cool punk band would crave to play on..Then the creme de la creme of Cali bands had its grand appearance right at the Starwood.. X, The Plugz, The Blasters, D.O.A., Fear, China White, Adolescents, 45 Grave, Mad Society, Circle Jerks, Weirdos, Middle Class, Agent Orange, Social Distortion, Alley Cats, Wall Of Voodoo, The Cheifs, Black Flag and many many others..
The Starwood closed its doors permanently in 1981, after several neighborhood complaints about loud music and disturbance caused by local patrons in the streets.





(Below: Show Calendar Ads. Credit to Old School Punk Rock Info)



















  • Fleetwood Club (260, N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach)

 Ahh, the Fleetwood.. Home to infamous Black Flag -even if they formed in Hermosa B.ch, Redondo and Manhattan Beach were places dear to them- and center of Beach Punk at its highest quality. Opened in 1977, it was located within this land triangle that led off from to the Redondo Marina and King Harbor. 
The Fleetwood did acquire notoriety for violence and vandalism, but it's been a milestone of ever-hitting hard music masters.









  • Whiskey A Go-Go (8901, W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, still active.)





The "World Famous" Whisky!! Must staging post to the 60's/70's/80's Rock 'n'Roll cream of the crop bands like Led Zeppelin, Captain Beefheart, Taste, Byrds, Doors, Stooges, Buffalo Springfield, Mothers Of Invention, UFO, Animals, Country Joe & The Fish, Steppenwolf, Ten Years After, Fleetwood Mac, and lots more.. 
The very roots of the Whiskey as we know it date back to the early 60s, when Elmer Valentine keyed what was once a notable go-go dancing discot√®que to live show and music performances that end up being recorded on "Live At The Whisky" bootlegs (do you remember the raving Live On The Sunset Strip by X?) 
Along with the Whisky, we shouldn't forget other clubs always in Sunset Strip like Gazzarri's, Roxy Theatre and Troubadour which were equally in the lead of Los Angeles pre-New Wave live entertainment.
























ADDITIONAL CLUBS & GREAT CONCERT HALLS


  • Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Boulevard, active and renovated)



A living institution in the history of L.A. rock venues, the Palladium earned fame for over 50 years now. Giant bands like Rancid and Bad Religion have recorded their live shows right here, and between Eighties and Nineties, it became the "House Of Blues" of all underground big names.






  •  Grand Olympic Auditorium (1801, South Grand Avenue, demolished in 2007)

Built in 1924 as a sports venue for the main purposes of wrestling and boxing events, by 1980 it began to host the best Punk Rock groups of the period, with Goldenvoice's chief Gary Tovar promoting bands such as FEAR, GBH, Circle Jerks, D.O.A., T.S.O.L., Youth Brigade, Toxic Reasons, Code Of Honor, Dead Kennedys, Raw Power.. The DK show in 1984 is quite remembered with great enthusiasm, as one of the most incredible that took place at the Olympic.


(Havoc crowd in Dead Kennedys' gig at the Olympic. Photo by Edward Colver)










  •  Fender's Ballroom (521 E. First Street, Long Beach. Shut down in 1989)

This was a great venue indeed. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any image of it, but I know every possible damn bitching band I love played there. It was located in La Fayette Hotel complex in Long Beach before it went permanently closed for nuisance disturbance, riots and fire. 





















  •   Club 88 (11784 Pico Boulevard, West Los Angeles. Active 1977-1981)


The smallest of all previously mentioned clubs by importance and size, Club 88 had its own righteous part in getting played most local bands, with the exception of some L.A. highlights that are worth recalling, like X or Weirdos. But that wasn't enough to ever outclass the fortune of venues like the Madame Wong's or Hong Kong Cafe. 





  •  Madame Wong's West & Hong Kong Cafe - two sides of the same coin?


Hard to believe, but West L.A. Chinatown was the best hotspot in late 70's for seeing rather unknown and newest New Wave/Pop bands playing. The clubs that ruled it up at that time were doubtlessly the Madame Wong's and Hong Kong Cafe.




 


Mme Wong's West former site rises up on 949 Sun Mun Way, next to the Hong Kong Cafe. 
Esther Wong bought the Rice Bowl restaurant premises by the end of '78, just when she was persuaded to book punk shows in order to increase customers incoming. That one proved to be a lucky move, since the MW became one of the most-sought, first-choice Punk landmarks. Wong made herself be known as a controversial yet charismatic figure, who put a strict policy upon who's who performing (girl singers banned cause they were trouble in her opinion, clients accepted only whether 21+, no booking allowed for those who played at rival Hong Kong..), but she also was in everyone's good book for letting musicians have what they deserved out of their popularity. Such benevolent as well as sharp attitude earned her the nickname of "Godmother Of Punk" by many of her fans.
Alley Cats, Go-Go's, Knack, Textones, Oingo Boingo, Plimsouls, Twisters, X, particularly felt attached to the venue.. Randy Stodola remembers those times at MW with a mix of nostalgic joy. 
Madame Wong's West called it quits in 1985.









It didn't took so long that nearest Hong Kong Cafe, situated on 425 Gin Ling Way, formerly a restaurant too called Joy Yuen Low, would follow Madame Wong's footsteps, even overshadowing a valuable share of its fame. In fact, those bands who were thrown out of MW for being too loud and noisy, like Bags, Flyboys, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Fear, Middle Class, Cheifs, Controllers, found their suitable fit at Hong Kong's. As a predictable consequence, more and more competition grew between the two, thus giving rise to what has been dubbed as real Chinatown Punk Wars.
The Hong Kong Cafe existence lasted from 1979 to 1981, just when the Hardcore crowds were moving away towards the larger Starwood and Whisky.






    








(Patricia Morrison w/ Alice Bag, Alley Cats, X, Fear's Lee Ving at HKC. 
Photos by Ann Summa)



















  •   Devonshire Downs (Northridge/San Fernando Valley)



Along with BYO-oriented venue Godzilla's, another fantastic playground for Hardcore Punk, was the "Downs", once a vast horse racing track near Reseda Boulevard which soon had been set for being a multipurpose facility. The Downs definitely passed into the annals of music history for the three-days Newport Pop Festival in 1969, a massive Woodstock-like event featuring great personalities of the time, i.e. Jimi Hendrix Experience, Joe Cocker, Jethro Tull, Eric Burdon and lots more.
 80's concerts at Downs used to be held in the CSUN in Northridge or in other sides of the campus.
2001 saw the whole property being razed of all its premises, including the stadium.





  •  Vex Club/Arts (2706, Brooklyn Ave - Alvarado St - El Sereno District, East Los Angeles)


Formed in 1977 by the uttered arty figure of Joe Suquette, the Vex is most assuredly the club which managed to mix Chicano Punk (The Brat, Los Illegals, Zeros) with Orange County bands legacy as Agent Orange, Adolescents, Social Distortion, D.I. in a very peculiar formula few others could ever compare. That's the reason why it went so legendary over these 30 yrs.
From its very start, the Vex had a tight connection with the world of all arts (see Self Help Graphics magazine project), encouraging eastern losangelenos in developing creative experiences of any sorts, especially painting and museum exhibits.
After closing its doors in 1984 for management pressure, returns with a twist later back this 2013 in a new renovated space at El Sereno, offering a rich schedule plenty of artistic and community ventures.















And as firecracker..


  • Cathay De Grande & Raji's (Argyle St. - Selma Ave. / 6162 Hollywood Blvd , Central Hollywood)






I couldn't miss out on putting up the two best places for Punk Rock hearing in Los Angeles. The most hard-kicking, hellish-sound bands played at the Cathay.. from Agression to Social D, TSOL, DI, NOFX, Shattered Faith, Love Canal, Naughty Women, Flower Leperds, Abandoned, Lost Cause, Channel 3 and damn good others.. I guess it was indeed the place to be, if you wanted to have fun and be a total part of the scene. CDG rocked out through all the early 80's, with a peak of shows between '83 and '84.  
Problems with business and violence already arose by 1985, and Cathay was forced to bid farewell through a Mentors/Circle Jerks gig. Was it really over, though..?






















Nope, it wasn't. The Raji's Club opened shortly after Cathay's closure; small but great venue and meeting hub, inherited half its predecessor fame for having the best of Rock'N'Roll-Punk guests of honor: GG Allin, Nirvana, Jane's Addiction, Redd Kross, Bad Religion, L7, to name a few.
Raji's went on a permanent shutdown in 1991, due to poor management treatment.





*******************************************************

That's all, folks!! I may have left some minor bars out of the list, but I put a very selective focus on which ones really shaped up the 80's Punk we still love listening to. My effort was big, in the hope of always delivering you the top-notch stuff.

Peace, Love, Punk.






Special Thanks:

- Randy Stodola (Alleycats): You're hell of a musician and one of my truest Cali Punk pals I wish I could see very soon..Thanks for being my friend. Luv ya lots.

- Hudley (Flipside): Hey Hud.. What can I say.. Love all the work you've made over those years and besides this I'm proud to have known such a spiritual human being like you. XOXOXO.

- John Denney (Weirdos): John!! I'll never be grateful enough for having received your goods of the night gig at the Echoplex!! Weirdos are and will always be my 1# top fave early LA punk band ever. Love ya guys.

- Ruby Ray (Photographer): Your photos are just astounding to me, Ruby. Have looked at them many times in wonder. Even your work in "Punk Passage". I'm honored to own your work at home and I hope we would talk sometimes, if you want.

- Penelope Houston (Avengers): As I once said, "my feminine punk inspiration". I'm glad you came to know me through our mutual acquaintance Lowell. Avengers for Life.

- Lowell "CaptainCrunk" Galliani (Soulmate, Friend, Modern Punkrocker): My dearest Lwl.. :) Your gifts were like a breeze of fresh air to my soul..I regret so much not to live in California, I'd surely hang out with the best people ever. You're always in my thoughts.



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