I Played Club Microwave at California Institution of Abnormal Arts

The stage at CIA.

The stage at CIA.

There’s a venue in North Hollywood called the California Institution of Abnormal Arts (CIA). It’s on one of those big, Valley boulevards that practically beg for you to speed along without a second glance. But this spot, set back only a bit from the street, is marked by a clown on the gate and a clown on the front door. They aren’t as eye-catching as the big, polka-dot guy atop Circus Liquor a few blocks east, but you will notice them. I have plenty of times before Saturday night, but for some odd reason or other, never stopped to peek inside. I’ve actually had friends, a lot of them, play here and yet, it wasn’t until two nights ago that I made the trip here.

Clearly, I have been missing out on something special. CIA is the coolest venue I’ve seen in the Valley. It appears small, even after you walk inside. The actual performance area is roughly comparable in size to an itty-bitty punk club. It’s a little rough around the edges too. Look closely and you’ll find tiny cracks in the patterns on the floor of the stage. The scruffiness goes with the decor, which is a mix of oddball vintage finds. There are old mannequins done up in bizarre fashion, skills, dolls heads and lots of candles. The more you explore, the more bizarre this space is.
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DJ Gig: Club Microwave 8/03/12

CIA08032013Saturday night, I’ll be playing at Club Microwave, which is held at CIA in North Hollywood. This gig is particularly cool for a few reasons.

1. I’m playing all vinyl, all synthpop. The musicians on the bill are playing chip tunes.

2. It’s all ages. (Be aware that those under 18 need to be accompanied by an adult.)

3. It’s in the Valley. I don’t think I’ve had a gig in the Valley before this, which is weird considering that I grew up there.

Anyhow, I hope you’ll attend. If you want a Facebook reminder, check out the invite. 

Two DJ Gigs This Weekend: Shadowplay and All This Is That

1016775_1399181353628323_222979457_nEvery fourth Saturday of the month, my friends, Larry and Diana, and I throw a goth party at the Grand Star in Chinatown called Shadowplay. Since tomorrow night is said fourth Saturday of July, it’s your chance to join us for some fun on the dance floor. We’ll be bringing old school and new school spooky jams. All you have to do is show up. This is a 21+ event. The cover is $8. However, there are a few ways you can get in for free.
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Preview Night: When We Landed an Awesome Hotel Room and Goofed Around

This was part of the view from our hotel room.

This was part of the view from our hotel room.

It took five years to get here. When it finally happened, it had more to do with my friend’s luck than my own.

Three of us entered the hotel lottery. We did this last year with mixed results. This time, though, we were methodical. We bumped up the amount we were willing to spend on a room. We made sure that a few of our choices overlapped. On the day of the lottery, each one of us managed to submit our picks in well under a minute. In the end, we all got hotels within a few blocks of the convention center. G scored the fanciest of the lot, the one with the bar that brings in the industry folks, the one that is the shortest walk from the convention center.

G led me to the room, opened the door and instructed me to look out the windows as soon as I set down my luggage. To the right was a harbor dotted with yachts. To the left was the city. I could see inflatable versions of Mordecai and Rigby, the characters from the regular show, perched high above the crowd the was just moving in for the next few days.

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Set List: Underground, July 13, 2013

Dancing in the fog to "Sex Dwarf"

Dancing in the fog to “Sex Dwarf”

I took this photo from the DJ booth last night, while I was playing “Sex Dwarf.” The fog machine was pumping. The music was blasting. The floor was crowded. It was a good night.

Friday was our New Order party at Underground. We couldn’t ask for anything better. People started dancing early and stuck around to the very end. We met one lady who came up from Tijuana for our party because she had seen posts about it online. There were a lot of old friends and new friends inside the club bringing some of the best energy I’ve seen in a while. I played Savages and people kept dancing. When something new does well, I’m ecstatic.

Also, this marked the first time Diana and I played a tag team set. It was fun. We should do it again. Here are my set lists from the night.
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Upcoming Gigs: Underground, Beat Swap Meet, Shadowplay

ShadowplayFlyers1I have a few DJ gigs coming up on the horizon. Here are the details.

Friday June 21

Underground @ Grand Star Jazz Club

I’m back at Underground this Friday night and we’re doing a tribute to one of our Britpop heroes, Jarvis Cocker. Larry, Diana and I will be playing our favorite Pulp tracks, plus a lot of other hits from the U.K. and beyond. RSVP on Facebook or through Underground’s website for free entry before 10 p.m. and $5 entry thereafter. Without an RSVP, the cover is $8.

Saturday June 22

Beat Swap Meet

On Saturday afternoon, I’ll be back at the Grand Star with a few stacks of vinyl for Beat Swap Meet. This is one of my favorite events in L.A., a record swap meet that takes over Chinatown every couple months, and was so excited that I was asked to play for this event. I should be on the decks at around 3:45 upstairs at the Grand Star. Even more exciting is that Free Moral Agents is playing live. Make sure you catch their set.  Beat Swap Meet is free with a canned good donation. Check out Facebook for more info on the event.

Saturday, June 29

Shadowplay

Remember how we did a couple goth nights at Underground? The response was so good that we decided to let Shadowplay go off on its own. Our first proper Shadowplay party is June 29 at the Grand Star in Chinatown. Larry, Diana and I will be digging into our record collections once again for the spookiest tunes we own. RSVP on Facebook or through Underground’s website to get in for free before 10 p.m. Otherwise, the cover is $8 all night.

Further along:

Saturday August 3

Club Microwave @ CIA

This is a ways off, but you might as well mark your calendar now. I’m DJing at Club Microwave on August 3. This is a cool event from the fine people behind 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer and I’m excited to be playing it. RSVP on Facebook. 

Set List: Zerox at La Cuevita, 6/13/13

Last night, I played Zerox, a monthly party at La Cuevita in Highland Park. It’s an ’80s night, but not your standard one. Resident DJs Eric Dead and Ralphie Nigma play a lot of interesting punk, goth, new wave, ska, etc. I took the opportunity to bust out some tunes that I don’t normally play in my sets, along with some of my favorite hits. Thanks to Eric and Ralphie for having me play last night. Also, thank you to those of you who made it out to the party. It was a great time!
Here’s my set list:
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Evolution of a Convention Reporter

If I were to rank the shittiest years of my life, 2007 would be at the top. I was struggling to finish grad school on an almost non-existent income so that I could get a good job in an industry in which good jobs had suddenly ceased to exist. The resumes I submitted went unanswered. The query letters I sent for freelance work were met with rejection emails. The music magazine that I was editing folded. The DJ gigs had all but completely dried up. I was working part time at a law office with the sneaking suspicion that filing paperwork would be the rest of my life. Nothing I could make would even come close to paying off that grad school debt, plus the lingering loans from undergrad. On top of that, my dad spent nearly the entire last month of the year in a hospital bed.

At the dawn of the new year, my dad came home from the hospital and I decided that I needed a change in my life. Up until then, I was strictly a music writer. I interviewed bands. I wrote record reviews. I used the words “burly” and “ethereal” far too often. Music writing was getting to be a bore. The stories I wanted to write– the ones about electronic and experimental artists getting all philosophical with their approach to remix culture– were the ones no one wanted to buy. The ones that were a market success were run-of-the-mill short band profiles that hit when the album or tour did. Sometime during that first week of 2008, I was goofing around online at my day job when I stumbled across an anime convention, Anime Los Angeles, that was taking place in Burbank the following day. It looked interesting and, at the very least, I could probably find those Paranoia Agent DVDs that I wanted there. That Friday, after my office shift was done, I headed over to the Burbank Convention Center in a godawful January storm. I stayed there until late in the evening and was so inspired that I wrote about the experience for a Razorcake Magazine. That was my first convention story.
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