Sculpting a Niche: L.A.’s Diverse Underground Music Scene Shapes its Own Identity

APAHM continues to run strong and features the best within LA. Featuring photos from Martin Santacruz Jr.

Exposing music lovers to a vast and eclectic mix of hometown artists and heroes, the American Pacific American Heritage Month showcase in L.A.’s classiest joint, The Smell, had fans anticipating the showcase from some of the local saviors of rock music. In collaboration with moonroom and OnThree Management, the awaiting crowd was treated to some of L.A.’s finest indie rockers: Chill Trigger, Earth Is A Death Star and WASI. Inspiring and wildly entertaining, the genres spanned between experimental-grunge to indie-pop all while showing off something new and something most definitely lively.

Coming in like a bat out of hell with a furious itch to scratch, Chill Trigger is one of L.A.’s upcoming rockers who turn the ‘grunge rock’ label on its ass and spanks it a new one. Mixing elements of experimental-psyche with hardcore punk, these longtime friends are standing high atop a pillar of their own making as their honest and emotional music transcends all notions of what rock music stands for. The brooding and sultry chords on “Blend Me Again” were as seductive as they are haunting. Vocalist Emilio Zoen roared a guttural bawl expressing his raw vocals on the unsuspecting crowd. Abused strings on the fret board managed to hold on by sheer luck to the glue keeping the headstock together. Guitarist and backing vocalist Issac Aquino added to the primal sounds from this axe as he belted out a few notes during the set. Bassist Zach Skelton and drummer Nick Imamura were there every step of the way during the onslaught of madness. Their latest EP release, I’m Sorry, is out now on all platforms.

Making Movies at The Moroccan 5.25.18

Earth Is A Death Star is the brainchild of Danny Louangxay, multi-instrumentalist  and former Ramonda Hammer drummer and current Surely Lorraine guitarist. The futurism presented on the available online singles borders cinematic accuracy intertwined with human emotions struggling to comprehend the inevitability. Louangxay’s band is fairly new with this showcase being the first time all four members played together live. Starting off their set, they cranked up the volume by five additional notches and infiltrated the reverb pedals, making them blush from the soundscapes presented. “Parting of Ways” was a standout track that had the room eating from Louangxay’s clutched hands. Transforming heavy synth tracks into raucous punk songs was no obstacle for the band as “Never Will I Ever” and “Perfect Blue” sounded like two teens finally coming out of their shells and ready to show the world just how important they were for all to witness. Humbled by the love, Louangxay thanked the crowd and his bandmates for an unforgettable performance that will surely blossom into a fully developed planet destroyer. Look out for an upcoming EP release, soon.

Making Movies at The Moroccan 5.25.18

Finishing off the night was Los Angeles riot-pop darlings, WASI. Forged by unbreakable beats, witty hooks and a catchy rhythm section, the band is led by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Merilou Salazar with bassist/vocalist Jessie Meehan by her side, Cindy Sukrattanawongon on bass, and drummer Lindsay Martin swinging for the fences with her uncontrollable head banging from behind the tom-tom. With lyrics centered on social justice, political activism, homosexuality, feminism and alienation, Wasi has a lot to say about issues that drive today’s global youth. Their music is universal and unfiltered with dramatic consequences, to the witnessing audiences, which forces unrestrained dancing. The set started with “Mama’s Gonna Get You” followed by a song Meehan wrote that inspired a group LGBTQ homeless youths at a recent show in Portland. During that Portland showcase, their 30 minute set was interrupted by a Neo-Nazi rally from the floor above, where some of the kids at the show lived at, but pushed their way past the negativity and hate to find a special bond with the song “Floor Talk.” They shared a collective sense of hope and freedom of expression with the three-minute track that also influenced the L.A. crowd to show off their own dance moves. WASI’s current EP, Stranger California, is out now.

Making Movies at The Moroccan 5.25.18

All attendees supporting this showcase and most importantly, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, were left with a permanent imprint on them that opened a new chapter for their affinity and lust for new local music. The current APAHM pop-up shows continue into early June with an array of diverse sounds including Ceramiks at Bridgetown DIY in La Puente on May 31st and wrapping up the showcase at The Offbeat Bar with tomemitsu on June 19th.

All words and photos, Martin Santacruz Jr.

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Remaining APAHM Shows

5/31 – Ceramiks Showcase | Bridgetown DIY
w/ All Hell Breaks Loops | bod [包家巷] | HØUNDS

6/19 – #AAPI Encore Showcase | The Offbeat Bar
w/ tomemitsu | Roger Hallaway | Paladin Shield | Pasthype


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