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Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

9 May
Welcome to the Swap Meet.

Welcome to the Swap Meet.

The Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet has really taken hold of the tribute band circuit by continuously hosting many different kinds of faux rock legends.  What is a swap meet you ask?  It’s like a flea market.  What is a flea market you ask?  Well, it’s “a gathering at which enthusiasts or collectors trade or exchange items of common interest.” So mixed in with the sunglasses, bunnies, nuts, ladies clothing, kids’ toys, vintage action figures, tutus, beer and hats you will find some surprisingly entertaining music.  They hosted what may be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen for $1 – which is the entrance fee to the Swap Meet.

People getting into it.

People getting into it.

I was unaware of the underground (does it count as underground if I just don’t know about it?) world of phenomenal and very serious “tribute” bands.  I put tribute in quotes because of the couple I’ve seen, they are good enough to stand on their own.  However, instead of doing so they offer up their musical talents and pay homage to those that came before them and impacted them so fiercely.  I mean, it’s not just any day that one decides to completely embody another man so devoutly and fanatically.  It is a strange parallel universe, that’s for sure.  And let’s be honest, the band names alone make it worth it.  A majority of the time the wordplay bridge melding the names of the original band with the tribute band is fucking genius.

During my first foray into tribute bands at this “venue” I saw Led Zepagain, which I hope you’re picking up is a Led Zeppelin Tribute Band, and they were mind-blowing.  In a good way.  A really good way.  (Is it weird that the lead singer might be better than the current Robert Plant??)  So when I had the opportunity to see Bonfire, which is the not-as-obvious name of an AC/DC Tribute Band, I was 100% into it.  These guys are pure entertainment.  You don’t know if you’re laughing with them or at them, but the important part is that you’re laughing. Talk about pouring your heart and soul out onto a stage!  They were wild, loud and took advantage of their opportunity to shine in the spotlight.  They hit all the high points – hair, school boy uniform, duckwalk, devil horns, energy and everything that comes along with it – the “Angus Young” runs through the crowd and performs on tables for goodness sake!  Even though these guys originated in Los Angeles, the lead singer even had an Australian accent.  Real?  Not real? We’ll never know, but I think it says something about their commitment level.

Be warned – In some of the below photos you will see topless men of a certain age…

yeah!

Yeah!

Horns.

Horns.

A stint in the crowd!

A stint in the crowd!

Tandem

Tandem

"Angus"

“Angus”

Did I mention the groupies?  I didn’t?!  Well, they were an integral part to the whole retro experience!  The big hair and remnants of the once young, screaming AC/DC fans and panty throwers was a highlight.  Speaking of people watching, there was a lot of it.  Interesting crowd at the ol’ Swap Meet.  Plenty of tattoos, lots of kids and lots of people rocking both AC/DC and Bonfire T-shirts all making for a very watchable audience.

Awesome Hair.

Awesome Hair.

Thanks for the tip.

Her button says, “End Slavery Now.” – Thanks for the tip, Obvious Police.

Having a grand time!

Having a grand time!

Nice.

Nice.

A fan.

A fan.

Colors of the rainbow.

Colors of the rainbow.

Yep.

Yep, this picture sums up my experience.

They play three hour-long sets with one hour breaks in between.  During these breaks is a good time to explore the above mentioned Swap Meet merchandising. It takes about an hour to get there from L.A. in traffic.  So go get a churro and have a good time.

Coming up on the horizon this summer:

MAY

Hard Days Night (Tribute to the Beatles)

These Handsome Devils (Tribute to Morrissey and The Smiths)

JUNE

Red Not Chili Peppers (See above wordplay comment)

No Duh (uh huh, Tribute to No Doubt; this might by my favorite one)

Electric Funeral (Tribute to Black Sabbath)

Aeromyth (See above wordplay comment)

JULY

Pyromania (Tribute to Def Leppard)

The Rising (Tribute to Bruce Springsteen)

Damage, Inc. (Tribute to Metallica)

Lyvyn Skynyrd (Tribute to Lynryd Skynyrd)

Click here for Bonfire’s website – Click here for the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet’s website13963 Alondra Blvd., Santa Fe Springs, CA  90670

Out!

Out!

Out!

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A Dive Bar Thanksgiving

23 Nov

After all is said and done – the turkey has been eaten, bellies are exploding, games have been played, alcohol has been drunk, Macy’s Parade, “Elf”, “The Ref”, “Twilight Zone” and “Alf” have been watched, more games have been played and more drinks have been drunk.  The two remaining stragglers hit up the best dive bar ever and realize that they too host their own Thanksgiving dinner.  They rock it old school where sharing is caring and have a full spread for their patrons to enjoy.

Nicely played, Drawing Room, nicely played.

When the 80’s Attack

17 Sep

By Wladi87krasov. Pulled from wikimedia commons.

Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw…I’m a step away from making a mix tape and crimping my hair with the random 80’s onslaught that has inhabited my life recently.

The 1980’s.  It was exaggerated and bright time period, the music, the styles, fads and fashions were all overstated and embellished.  It’s a vibrant and care-free middle child to the war ridden 70’s and self-obsessed and angsty 90’s of recent past.  Recently, we’re taking hold of our 80’s heritage and now we’re re-obsessed with color, with fun music and clothes that are a throwback to that time period.   Because of this influx, it’s not surprising there’s been a triple invasion of 80’s culture to my simple life.  I love the 80’s, but other than it’s music, I don’t find myself on its radar most of the time.  Until this week.  This week, that was not the case.

This is what happened:  I started reading a new book, knowing nothing about its contents and was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Turns out, it is centered around the glorious decade that is the 80’s.  Then, some friends and I happen upon a random bar we’d never heard of before and…well, you’ll see, but I’m guessing that you’re guessing it has something to do with the 80’s and, like, you’d be right, bitchin!  Go ahead…keep reading –

Awesome. Photo by Michael Surran, pulled from wikimedia commons.

READ – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Note:  this will be the worst book review you’ll ever read, continue at your own risk.

It’s the year 2044, the earth has gone to complete shit, our 18-year-old Protagonist lives in “the stacks” (think trailer park except with all the trailers stacked vertically forming a new version of The Projects.)  An extremely high-tech, detailed and comprehensive virtual reality called OASIS has been created by a mastermind, Steve Jobs type, to help the population cope with its current living circumstances.  Kids attend school here, people hang out, travel, everything you would do in real life, they do in this alt-world.  When the creator of this parallel universe dies, the Contest is born.  The users of OASIS are challenged to “find” three gates hidden in this virtual reality world he’s created.  Once you find them and beat all the challenges presented, you become the beneficiary to his estate and the recipient of his billions of dollars, etc.  Being the 80’s lover that he was, people begin studying everything 80’s.  Since this takes place 33 years in the future it is amusing the way the author references current film directors, fads, video games and musicians as a thing of the past.  It’s an interesting little headfuck and a very easy and enjoyable read.

Awesome pinballs at Blipsy Barcade.

GO – Blipsy Barcade – What a wacky place.  The description is in the title, Bar. Arcade.  See!!  I’m a little upset with myself that I didn’t stumble upon this gem of a place until now, but better late than never, I suppose.  It is stuffed with old video games, mostly from the 80s; you won’t find any of that too cool for school Mortal Combat or anything Tekken.  It has two pinball machines (my personal favorite), Donkey Kong, Mrs. Pacman, Joust, Robotron, Double Dragon, Rampage, Spy Hunter, Asteroids, Centipede, etc. and they all cost a quarter to play.  A quarter.  Again, a quarter.  No rip off artists here.  There was a great DJ spinning 80s (and some 90s) music and the crowd was milling about dancing, playing and generally being non-pretentious.  Good for them!  It was busy, but not crowded; you could still move around.  It’s the epitome of a shitty dive so bring cash; no credit cards accepted.  I’ll be going back in the very near future.

For the Record series at Rockwell.

DO – For the Record: John Hughes – So very very much fun!  Dinner Theatre at it’s best!  As we are assigned our seats at the bar we immediately notice they have some drink specials – cocktails named after some classic references, such as Long Duck Dong, She’s Alive, and my drink of choice, The Abe Froman. The energy in the crowd was wonderful and you can tell everyone was there in the same capacity.  No judging, no agenda, just to enjoy what was the classic John Hughes movie and all of its comedy and music.  As a child of the 80’s, I appreciated everything about it.  All the references, dance moves, song choices and inside jokes.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house and since the cast moves around the space constantly, you’ll never feel like you’re going to miss an entire bit.

These performances are actually a series.  “For the Record” puts on many different shows, all with the same idea…music and short excerpts usually formed around a certain movie or director.  Some past shows include “Boogie Nights” and Quentin Tarantino.  Do yourself a favor and try to catch John Hughes in time, or wait until the next installment – Martin Scorsese.  Man, if they do anything to do with “Casino” I’ll be institutionalized. – hit up goldstar.com for discounted tickets

If you find yourself looking for a little extra 80’s in your life and you’re not in the mood for fluorescent clothes or a “Pop-Up Video” marathon why don’t you go ahead and give these a look-see –

To the Theatre!

12 Sep

Beautiful interior of The Pantages Theatre. Pulled from wikimedia commons.

UPDATE: If going for the lottery – the matinee on Saturday is at 2pm and the matinee on Sunday is at 1pm & Sunday nights at 6:30pm and all other nights at 8pm, so you’ll need to show up 2 1/2 hours prior to those times…

———————————————————

Theatre in LA.  There are a lot of stigmas attached to a sentence like that.  Things like poor performances, bad productions, etc.  But, times they are a changin’.  Over the past few years, there has been an increasing amount of chances to catch a quality show, and not necessarily just touring or regional productions either.   More and more opportunities are arising for you to see shows that are held in high regard in the theatre community and, in some cases, will actually star some or all of the actors that originated the roles, now that is the bomb-schbomb diggity.  The pinnacle of this LA theatre uprising being the new arrival of “Book of Mormon” at The Pantages.

You need to do this.  This is what you need to do.  “Book of Mormon”.  Ahem, Ahem.  I SAID, “Book of Mormon”!  If you are unsure of what I’m referring to, please, let me educate you.  I guarantee, this will be one of the funniest things you’ll ever see.  It’s wrong.  So very, very wrong.  It’s a musical, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone who are also the wonders behind “South Park”.  It won nine, yep nine, Tony Awards in 2011 and it is so sensational I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t do my best to force people to go.  It’s like George Carlin, Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor all had a talk with the comedy gods and decided now was the time to shower the people of earth with their celestial comedy magic once again. So down it rained and this show was drenched with their satirical genius.  Not that anyone should or does need forcing, but you will be thanking me later.

Book. Of. Mormon.

This show will define the modern musical.  It’s a fresh spin on a classic musical format.  There are the same impressive notes and pristine vocal abilities present, the same big builds and ballads, but the lyrics, the lyrics and overall content is what changes things.  If you were to just listen to the melodies of these songs, you would never guess in a million years the words that were about to come out of their mouths.

Now, tickets are expensive, you’re looking somewhere in the arena of $100++++.  I personally think it’s worth it if you’ve got it, but if that sole fact is keeping you from seeing one of the greatest shows you’ll ever see, ever, than there is another option for you.

I feel like nearly everyone outside of New York City is unaware of the following information, I surely was.  Let me introduce you to – the lottery.  No no no, I’m not saying your only other option is to win the state lottery, [imagine at me looking at you funny] good luck with that, big dreamer.  What many theatres have is a ticket lottery available for all or many of its shows.  In the case of The Pantages where “Book of Mormon” is playing from now through Nov. 25th – you show up roughly 2 ½ hours prior to show time (SEE UPDATE above: matinees start at 1pm and evening shows start at 8pm), submit your name and how many tickets you would like (1 or 2, and you can only submit your name once), and then they have a drawing 2 hours prior to the show.  If you are a lucky human and win them, you pay $25 per ticket in cash and your day/week/month/year has instantaneously gotten better.  And I mean by a very large margin.  If you’ve got the time, give it a try.

Another perk to checking out this particular production is that The Pantages is located directly next door to The Frolic Room. One of the most identifiable and iconic dive bars in Los Angeles.  You can drink there.  Because it’s a bar.  You should do it.  You’d be in the presence of some of the most famous ghosts in Hollywood history dating as far back as the 30’s.

Since we’re talking about theatre, another thing you should be aware of is goldstar.com.  As we know, theatre tickets can be very expensive.  This site has discounted tickets and frequently you’ll end up paying up to half of the original price; the seats aren’t bad either.  You sign up, enter your city and they’ll send you email notifications with all sorts of discounted activities coming up in your area.

One last thing, I’m not saying you to have to dress to the nines, but put a little effort into your theatre-going wardrobe.  Once upon a time, people dressed up because going to the theatre was an event; there was something special about it. You get to see, first hand, actors singing and acting their hearts out, so the least you can do is refrain from wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt, OK?  Can’t we keep it just a little classy?  And with that final note – enjoy the theatre!!  Click here for Center Theatre Group site where you can check out upcoming productions and here for another helpful Los Angeles Theatre site –

Here’s a little test – listen to the below video in its entirety.  If you’re laughing or your mouth is agape (in a good way) you should go see it.  If not, well, there you go.  You’re off the hook…

Operation: Rethink Happy Hour Hours

27 Jul

I didn’t create this image, but I surely approve of it

OK Team, let’s get together on this.  I think – again, I think (or, more accurately, I’d like to think) that Happy Hours started back in the day because people would get off work at 5pm and need to relax.  Let loose.  The day was hard, and they’d want to go out, not spend a lot of money and still be rewarded for their workday, if you will.  The issue I’m taking up here is the fact that most Happy Hours last from 4-6pm or 5-7pm.  Now, I don’t know about you, but in the world I’m living in, I GET OUT of work at 7pm, if I’m lucky!  There has clearly been a shift in regards to the standard work hours in the United States of America since the 1960’s, or whenever Happy Hours were first enacted.

Eh eh ahem…I hereby proclaim that the Happy Hours of America be adjusted to reflect the later working hours of our culture!  We need to rise up and boycott and hold court and occupy to fix the heinousness that is the behind the times “Happy Hour”.   And I’m not talking these late night Happy Hours; that’s a whole other animal altogether.  I’m talking – get out of work and go there sorts of establishments.

Fine, you want to get serious about it?  According to the internets (whose information I find suspect in general), the history of Happy Hours has nothing to do with the workday and everything to do with pre-dinner drinks.  Even if that’s accurate, the swing, the shift, the trend of Happy Hours has evolved into less of a pre-dinner-drinks thing into more of a let’s-go-out-and-get-shit-faced-after-work thing and by golly, I think it’s high time we start acting like it!

Who are the current Happy Hours really happy for, anyway?!  (Alright, they’re always happy.)  BUT, I maintain, that people who can go to them from 5-7pm, can ALSO go to them from 7-9pm!  Let’s make this a movement!  You want to play devil’s advocate?  Bars make money with Happy Hours being set at “off” times, you say?  They wouldn’t succumb to the new Happy Hour laws since 7-9pm is when people tend to go to bars anyway?  Hogwash!  People who are drinking from 7-9pm will likely still be there drinking from 9pm-12am!  Mark my words – Fill thy patrons with cheap alcohol and they will continue to imbibe!  We all want to play nice together so let’s give those hard workers a carrot as thanks for greasing the wheels of society with their long hours and hard work!

Operation:  Rethink Happy Hour Hours unite!!!!

…Here are just a few awesome bars in L.A. that are already hip to the cause:

Bigfoot Lounge (Culver City) – 5-9pm

R Bar (Koreatown) – 7-9pm

Thirsty Crow (Silverlake) – 5-8pm

Bar One (North Hollywood) – 6-9pm DAILY (nice touch Bar One).

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